True Detective: Night Country review: Jodie Foster revives HBO’s flagging franchise

In the final episode of True Detective season 4, Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) and Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis), two Alaskan detectives, interrogate a suspect who is tied to a chair. They are investigating the murder of Annie K., an Indigenous activist, and the mysterious disappearance of eight Arctic scientists. The suspect, in a state of disarray and distress, speaks cryptically, saying, “Time is a flat circle,” expressing a sense of being trapped.

The series, True Detective: Night Country, often references the first season of Nic Pizzolato’s HBO crime noir, which debuted in 2014 and reinvigorated the genre. Although creator Issa López originally pitched Night Country as a standalone drama, HBO saw an opportunity to revive their Detective franchise with this murder mystery. Despite the unnecessary nods to the past, the series remains a compelling story about community, generational trauma, and the underestimation of women.

The story unfolds in Ennis, Alaska, during the long polar night, as the two detectives investigate the disappearance of the scientists from the Tsalal Arctic Research Center. Navarro, a member of Ennis’ Iñupiaq community, believes there is a supernatural element at play, while Danvers remains skeptical. As they delve deeper, they uncover connections between Annie and the scientists, leading them to join forces despite their strained relationship.

Night Country portrays Ennis as a place where strange occurrences are common, adding to its eerie atmosphere. The series explores themes of industrialization and the impact on the environment and community. Foster’s portrayal of Danvers adds depth to the character, turning her from a potential cliché into a compelling antihero.

Overall, Night Country delivers a shrewd and engaging narrative, though it occasionally suffers from pacing issues. The incorporation of True Detective elements, such as the mysterious spiral symbol, adds little to the story’s depth. However, the series benefits from a second viewing, especially for its surprising revelations.

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