True Detective: Night Country recap: It’s hunting season

Is Raymond Clark—that spiral-tattooed scientist who somehow wrenched himself free from the Corpsicle last week—the man responsible for those Tsalal deaths? Eh, likely not, given how early in the season it is for True Detective: Night Country. But Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) and Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) still need to track the dude down to get answers not only about what happened to those freeze-dried researchers out on the ice that night, but also Annie Masu Kowtok’s still-unsolved murder case from six years earlier.

We get a glimpse of Annie K. (Nivi Pedersen), a year before her death, at the top of this Sunday’s “Part 3,” which opens with Navarro seeking out the activist on charges of trespassing and vandalizing the Silver Sky Mining facilities. The only problem? Annie moonlights as a midwife and there’s a very pregnant woman who’s 10 centimeters dilated and wailing from a baby pool that requires her immediate attention before Evangeline can slap on some cuffs. Annie and a group of fellow doulas help the mom-to-be deliver, but the newborn worryingly doesn’t cry upon birth, forcing Annie into action. Concerned but capable, she performs CPR on the infant, and it’s as nerve-wracking as anything the show has put up so far—but finally the babe unleashes a wail to match mama’s. The women sob in relief, and even Navarro is misty-eyed as she completes Annie’s arrest.

Flash forward to the present—December 22, the fifth day of polar night, to be exact—and to the ice, where Hank (John Hawkes) has enlisted a band of gun-toting, camo-wearing civilians to join the Alaska Police Force in hunting Clark down across the tundra. Back at the police station, Danvers isn’t thrilled by this development in the slightest but she has other pressing concerns: namely, the 19 boxes of evidence they pulled from Clark’s creep-mobile. She tells Peter (Finn Bennett) to call in Navarro’s trooper command to get her temporary transfer approved, but the deputy’s confused: “I thought you hated Navarro?” She clears it up for him in a reductive bit of characterization: “I do. I hate everyone. I hate you.”

“Part 3”



“Part 3”





It’s through Peter’s pestering that we get more intel into exactly what drove such a wedge between the two women: the Wheeler case, a messy murder-suicide between a repeat criminal and his 18-year-old girlfriend. After a long history of abuse, “we knew how it was gonna end, but there was nothing we could do,” Liz rues. “And then we got the call.” Navarro took their failure particularly hard, and things turned so ugly between the police partners that Evangeline was transferred over to the troopers.

But the not-so-affable pair are now stuck together—pardon the Corpsicle pun—investigating Ray and Annie’s secret relationship and how it all ties back to Tsalal. Using a mix of personal photos, hair-dye splotches and, uh, Ariana Grande’s discography, they manage to deduce that someone had to know about the couple and that person was Annie’s hairdresser, Susan (Bridie Trainor). The local stylist used to go to Tsalal to give the men haircuts—Annie tagged along once and instantly hit it off with Ray, while Susan cozied up to an equipment engineer named Oliver Tagaq, who quit the research station right before Annie was killed.

They’re details Susan didn’t reveal to Navarro all those years ago because she was worried she’d face the same gruesome end as her friend. However, she did notify police about Annie’s connection to Clark following her death, she asserts, a little fact that Hank Prior failed to tell Navarro before she was transferred out of the APF. Evangeline is furious, accusing Hank of being part of a wider mine-focused conspiracy to silence Annie’s murder. For her part, Liz is more ticked off at Hank’s jibes that she’s going “Mrs. Robinson” on his son and throws a coffee in his face accordingly.

In another bout of professional misbehavior, Danvers has Peter call in his veterinarian cousin to come inspect the Corpsicle (hey, he works on large animals!), as the forensic tech is still delayed due to a blizzard. Vince the Vet (Vilhelm Neto) believes the men died before they froze: “Cold makes their heart rate drop, their breath grows shallow. They basically fall asleep…this is not how you die in the cold.” Instead, he surmises that it was cardiac arrest or sheer fright that killed them, but he can’t be sure. After all, he’s just a vet.

And Navarro uses her own personal connections—i.e. her brewer-with-benefits Qavvik (Joel D. Montgrand)—to trace the whereabouts of Oliver Tagaq (Lane Karmer). Susan the Hairdresser had warned the women that Oliver wasn’t exactly “looking to be found,” living out of a nomad camp on the north shore, and that proves to be true: Instead of cooperation, he welcomes them with a firearm.

On the drive back from camp, the duo gets word that Anders Lund (Þorsteinn Bachmann)—the other scientist who is alive but has been in a coma the past few days—is awake. They zoom over to the hospital to question him but bro is in bad shape: multiple amputations, lost eyesight, the works. They do manage to extract a few bits of information in between his roars of pain: “We woke her, and now she’s out there in the ice. She came for us in the dark.” Who is “she”? Danvers doesn’t find out, as she’s pulled out to break up a fight happening in the waiting room, but Navarro chillingly does. “Your mother says hello,” Lund croaks out right before he flat-lines. “She’s waiting for you.”

Equally unsettling is a video Peter found on Annie K.’s cell phone, presumably the last before she died. “I found it, it’s here. I found it,” Annie says to the camera, right before she’s seemingly attacked on the ice, her screams of terror reverberating off the hospital walls.

At the halfway point of True Detective: Night Country, we’re left with far more questions than answers (though one fan theory has seemingly already been affirmed by showrunner Issa López—more on that in a second). How is Navarro’s mother connected to the Tsalal mystery? Where has Ray run off to and does he have ties to a certain cultish family? What’s the meaning behind that recurring one-eyed polar bear? How has it taken this long for an HBO series to figure out how to light night scenes without making us question our eyesight? And, most importantly, exactly what does Liz Danvers’ Tinder profile look like?

Stray observations

  • First thing’s first: Yes, the fan theories that Rose’s late partner Travis (Erling Eliasson) is the survivalist father of Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) are seemingly correct. Not only does he share the same surname and shaggy ’do of the season-one lead, but Lopez left a cheeky little Twitter comment that affirmed that Travis “comes directly from the mythology of the first season.” So the references to the first season are no longer mere fan service but canon connections. If that means a McConaughey cameo is to come, well, that sounds alright, alright, alright.

  • Speaking of references, Navarro and Qavvik have a “quid pro quo” haggle à la Clarice and Hannibal, but here it’s sweeter than that The Silence Of The Lambs scene—the brewer wants to actually get to know the woman he’s sleeping with, in exchange for forking over info on Oliver Tagaq. Evangeline opens up about her mother: She left Ennis when she was 15, meeting Navarro’s dad in Boston but leaving him when things turned abusive. After returning up north, she began suffering episodes and hearing voices, similar to Navarro’s sister, until one day she ran out into the ice and never came back. The authorities never found her killer, which all-too-neatly explains Evangeline’s dogged determination to crack Annie’s case.

  • Let’s talk about those oranges: There are a few in the opening credits, and now Navarro finds a whole one out on the ice while searching for Clark. She throws the fruit out into the glacial darkness, and it freakily comes rolling right back. Are we following Coppola rules here? If so, Evie, you in danger, girl.

Previous post The 30 Best Celebrity Met Gala Gowns of All Time
Next post It’s a Chiefs vs. 49ers rematch. Here is the tale of the tape for Super Bowl LVIII