Last week, True Detective made a return to our small screens with the fourth season of the show, titled Night Country. Set in the fictional town of Ennis in Alaska, the narrative followed Chief Liz Danvers as she looked into the mysterious disappearance of eight men from the Tsalal Research Station, who had left behind all their belongings and a severed human tongue. Trooper Evangeline Navarro suspected that it had something to do with the vicious murder of an Iñupiat woman named Annie Kowtok. Eventually, with the help of Rose Aguineau and the spirit of her dead husband, Travis, the police did find the dead bodies of the scientists. But it became clear that there were several other problems plaguing Ennis, and they ranged from racism, colonialism, environmental issues, mental health issues, and more. Let’s find out what today’s episode had in store for us and if Danvers managed to make some headway regarding the investigation.
Navarro Offers to Help Danvers
Episode 2 of True Detective: Night Country opens with the revelation that the bodies of the men from Tsalal Research Station are frozen together in a bundle in the middle of nowhere. Their clothes are neatly folded together in a spot that is a few feet away from the bundle of frozen bodies. Just to make matters worse, when one of the officers accidentally breaks off the hand of one of the men, he wakes up and begins to scream at the top of his voice, thereby freaking everyone out. While the police try to move the mass to a safe place without damaging it any further, Danvers goes to the local geology professor, Bryce, who is one of her friends-with-benefits, to ask him about the purpose of the Tsalal Research Station. The focus of the episode briefly shifts to Navarro, who is having a conversation with Rose about her visions of Travis, her sister’s visions, and whether or not they mean anything. It doesn’t clarify if there’s something supernatural going on, especially because Rose says that one shouldn’t confuse paranormal activities with mental health issues. But given how dark and depressing everything is in Ennis, it’s safe to say that everyone isn’t functioning at 100 percent all the time. That said, Rose does point out an important thing: the spiral marking on the forehead of one of the men who were found in the ice. Navarro recognizes it, but neither of them know what it means.
Coming back to Bryce, we see him telling Danvers that the reclusive men of the Tsalal Research Station were looking to replicate the DNA of an extinct microorganism that could stop the decay of cells. In simple terms, they were looking for the key to immortality. Bryce does say that it wasn’t a practical mission because, given the age of the microorganism, it would’ve been impossible to extract anything from it for scientific purposes. That begs the question: What was Tsalal’s aim if they knew that they were going to achieve nothing with their research? Danvers doesn’t get the answer to that because she has to rush back to the station after she learns that Captain Connelly is planning to shift the case to Anchorage. Apparently, the police station and forensic department are better equipped than the ones at Ennis. But since Connelly was the one who assigned Danvers to the post in Ennis, she wants to see the case to its bitter end by hook or by crook. She even finds a loophole to hold onto the bodies by reminding Connelly that if they need to be moved, they have to be thawed and then transported. Thawing takes around 48 hours. So, technically speaking, Danvers has those bodies under her jurisdiction for the next 48 hours. Within these 48 hours, she has to come up with something concrete to present to Connelly so that he doesn’t have an excuse to shift the case to Anchorage.
Usually, I guess (because I don’t know anything about moving dead bodies in Alaska for forensic investigation), bodies are kept in morgues where the temperature is regulated to help them thaw. But the men from Tsalal are a pile of bodies. Hence, Danvers decides to use the local skating rink for the mass of dead men. The rink is owned by the mining company, and Kate represents the mining company and the rink. The issue is that, in the past, Danvers had an affair with Kate’s husband. Even though Kate clearly detests Danvers, she allows the police to use the rink because it’s the need of the hour. The frozen pile of bodies is promptly moved to the rink, and everyone who lays eyes upon it is understandably horrified by it. I don’t know the amount of VFX and SFX that have been used to create this monstrosity, but the final product is truly astounding. Peter Prior and Danvers begin to investigate it, and that’s when Navarro shows up. She says that she wants to be a part of the investigation because one of the guys has the spiral marking that was tattooed on Annie’s body. Navarro thinks that Annie’s death and the deaths of the Tsalal engineers are connected. Danvers says that she has no interest in working with Navarro again and tells her to get out of the skating rink. Her treatment of Peter is the opposite of that, especially after he gets a phone unlocked by using its facial recognition technology on one of the men frozen in the ice.
Pete Learns About The Spiral Tattoo
Navarro goes to her boyfriend Qavvik’s bar to talk to Ryan (Annie’s brother) about Raymond Clark, i.e., one of the scientists whose parka is missing, and apparently, Annie was seen wearing that same parka. Ryan says that he knows nothing about him because Annie never introduced him to Ryan. That said, when Ryan’s coworker Chuck interrupts the conversation and glances at the photo, Navarro notices Chuck recognizing the man. Before Navarro can question Chuck, a fight breaks out in the bar over the mining and how it’s poisoning the water in Ennis, thereby causing people to become sick. Chuck uses this opportunity to get away from Navarro and also not pay his bill. The focus of the episode then shifts to the skating rink, where Danvers and Peter are going over the details they have on the case so far. Danvers has the habit of “asking the right question,” and she is teaching Peter to develop this practice because it’ll allow him to eliminate the questions that’ll lead them nowhere and concentrate on the questions that are important. After a lot of to-and-fro, they come to the vague conclusion that there is a killer out in the wild who has orchestrated this whole fiasco by some means to achieve something. Peter says that that doesn’t make any sense, and Danvers says that the “sense” is buried in the details; they only need to ask the right questions to bring it out into the open. Peter shows Danvers the video of the moment where Raymond started convulsing and then uttered the words “She’s awake,” which doesn’t help clear up the confusion at all.
Qavvik and Navarro are seen having a sweet little conversation, and then the episode goes to Danvers questioning the cleaning ladies who worked at Tsalal and Peter questioning the guy who brought supplies to the Tsalal Research Station. Both Danvers and Peter learn the same thing: Clark was a weird guy who used to walk around naked sometimes (nobody really bothered him with that), and he had the spiral tattoo on his chest. Navarro nearly gets into a car crash while going to Chuck’s place because her memories are triggered by the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” and a cross that belonged to her mother. Navarro composes herself and asks Chuck about how he knew Raymond Clark. Chuck reveals that Clark bought his cousin’s trailer and paid in cash; no questions were asked. Navarro orders Chuck to describe the trailer and write down his cousin’s name in her notebook. Once that’s done, Navarro tells Chuck that she knows that he initially refused to identify Clark because he is okay with what happened to Annie. Given how Chuck says nothing to refute the allegation, it’s obvious that the miners are racists and are okay with the fact that someone protesting it, an Iñupiat woman, was raped and murdered.
Peter’s dad, Hank, is apparently being scammed by whoever this Alina is. Going by the texts engaged between them, it’s obviously someone young, and she (or he) is extracting money from Hank by saying that her mother is suffering from cancer. Is Hank really that stupid to not see through this ruse? Anyway, while sharing pictures with Alina, Hank notices that Annie’s file is missing and realizes that Peter has stolen it on Danvers’ orders. Peter and Danvers go over the details they’ve acquired so far. Peter says that Tsalal is directly or indirectly funded by a shell company called NC Global Strategies and that NC Global Strategies has their fingers in a lot of pies. Danvers says that that’s not helpful, but I think this whole operation in Tsalal isn’t just about mining. There’s something more that is going on under the garb of scientific research. Peter asks Danvers why she hates her former partner, Navarro, so much because he is afraid that, given how he is working for Danvers now, he is going to commit the same mistakes that Navarro did. Danvers tells him to simply follow her orders and not mess up. Yes, that means he has to stay at the skating rink instead of looking after his son, thereby angering his wife, Kayla. When Danvers goes to pick up Leah from Peter’s house, she finds out that Kayla’s mother has etched Inupiaq markings on Leah’s chin with a marker. This angers Danvers very much, and she gets into an argument with Kayla and her mother and then promptly leaves with Leah.
Is Clark connected to Annie?
Navarro tries to convince Jules to go to a facility that will take care of her mental health issues. Jules refuses to go, and Navarro has no option but to agree with her for the time being. Leah gets a text from her girlfriend, and she sneakily leaves her house to meet her. While putting up the Christmas decorations at her house, Liz reminisces about a kid, who is probably but most definitely her son. The doll of the polar bear with one eye probably belonged to this kid. It’s not clear what happened to them, but it must’ve been tragic because people keep hurling taunts about Danvers’ family life at her. Talking about families, Hank confronts Peter and whacks him across the face for lying to his father and doing Danvers’ bidding. We do get a bit of information about Peter’s mother and Hank’s former wife: she apparently left them. Based on Hank’s behavior, it’s not a big surprise. Later on, during a conversation between Leah and Peter, we also learn that Peter’s mother was a kind soul, which pretty much confirms the theory that the woman was a kind soul who was driven out of Ennis by Hank’s behavior. During the same conversation, we get a glimpse of Liz’s husband. It’s not clear if Leah is Liz’s stepdaughter or not, but the fact that she keeps referring to her as Liz means that she might be her stepmother. That said, Peter also refers to Hank by his first name, and it’s clear that he is his biological father. So, until we get any explicit answers, we can only speculate.
Surprisingly enough, it’s been revealed that Liz Danvers has been having an affair with Connelly for around 19 years. During their post-coital conversation, Connelly tries to convince Danvers to hand over the case to Anchorage, but Danvers refuses to budge. Danvers goes back to her office and has a chat with the tattoo artist who put the spiral marking on Raymond Clark. She shows Danvers the tattoo that Clark had as well as the reference image. This prompts Liz to go to Navarro almost immediately because the reference image features Annie (with the tattoo) standing semi-naked with Raymond Clark. So, it’s obvious that the Tsalal case and Annie’s death are interconnected, and since Navarro knows every single detail linked to Annie’s murder, she is the best person for this job. There’s a really small moment in this scene where Liz tries to store the cans of food that Navarro has bought, and she notices that Navarro has started keeping her cans elsewhere. That means Liz and Navarro had such a deep bond that Liz knew where Navarro used to keep her food. Now, I really want to know what happened between them that caused them to have such an intense professional and personal breakup. There’s a good chance it’s because of the Annie case. Navarro does point out that Liz is only interested in Annie now because her death is linked to the deaths of a bunch of white guys. Liz’s latent racism fires up now and then. Hence, there’s a good possibility that Navarro got way too angry about Liz’s “centrist” behavior and charged at her.
At the end of True Detective: Night Country episode 2, while talking to Qavvik, Navarro figures out that trailers made for secretive lovemaking are parked at a place called The Nook. She drives over to that place and finds a trailer that matches the description written by Chuck. She calls up Liz, who is seemingly going through some Tsalal reports, which go from regular scribblings to the ramblings of a madman. She drops the files and goes to The Nook as well, where she finds out that Clark’s trailer is filled with articles synonymous with black magic, voodoo, and witchcraft. I mean, there’s a human-sized doll, and a baby-sized doll placed side-by-side on the bed in the trailer! And the wall behind the bed is filled with pictures, probably of Raymond and Annie. The duo doesn’t get the chance to look into it closely because Peter calls Liz to tell her that the pile of frozen bodies has melted quite a lot, and there are only six of them in there. Lund is dead. Raymond Clark is not in there. Navarro immediately says that Clark is alive and that he is out there. Peter had theorized earlier on that “the killer” was out there. We saw Clark convulsing and freaking out. And he is the one who is missing? It won’t be wrong to assume that he’s the killer. However, the question is, “Why would he kill his own team members?” Well, maybe they were all somehow linked to Annie’s death, and Clark felt guilty about being a part of their evil activities. One day, his guilt got the better of him, and he decided to take matters into his own hands. That sounds too simplistic, though, doesn’t it? That’s why we have to wait for the next few episodes to unpack this mysterious case.