April 17, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

True Detective: Night Country “Part 1”

Season Four, Episode One

Well, I was not expecting True Detective to come back.  After a spectacular first season, a not-as-bad-as-its-reputation-but-still-a-step-down second, and a much-improved third, I think it would have been fair to assume that the anthology crime series probably wasn’t coming back.  But then Night Country was announced, a story set in Alaska with Jodie Foster in the lead role, but for the first time, series creator Nic Pizzolatto wasn’t involved all that much.

That could prove interesting if the people behind Night Country can still craft an interesting story.

So far, the case itself looks interesting and maybe hints at a supernatural twist of some sort, but so did season one and it turned out the “Yellow King” was at best in Rust Cohle’s head and maybe the home audience.  Here, well, the supernatural elements seem to be playing out a bit more strongly, but I’m not sure I would say no to ghosts or whatnot.  Besides, this case looks to be weird:  an Arctic research station, home to eight men, is found deserted in the middle of the months-long nighttime that hits that area.  Whatever happened, they left in a hurry as Foster’s Chief Liz Danvers picks up just by judging by the smell of the laundry and a jar of mayonnaise left lying out that the men vanished at least 48 hours earlier.  The only clue left behind suggesting foul play seems to be the severed tongue that probably came from a murdered native woman activist.

That actually brings in State Trooper Evangeline Navarro, a woman who takes special notice to cases of abuse of women by men, and someone who has been looking for the activist’s murderer for years to the point of obsession.  She used to be a member of Danvers’s police department, and there’s bad blood there.  Navarro isn’t happy Danvers didn’t help her enough with the case while Danvers thinks she did enough, especially considering she wasn’t the Chief when Anne Kowtok was found dead and her body abused.

Yeah, I’m getting a strong vibe off this whole season looking at gender in ways that previous seasons didn’t if they even had a prominent female character.  Navarro makes a booty call at one point, and it’s clear that everything that happens there is on her terms, and the missing scientists were, as mentioned, all men.

Meanwhile, the episode seems a bit crowded with subplots.  Danvers’s had an adopted daughter who made what sounds like a sex tape with a barely legal girlfriend, there’s a drunk driver that no one likes, and there’s some tension between father-and-son cops under Danvers’s general command.  That might be too much plot for what may only be six episodes of television.

And that’s not getting into the one-eyed polar bear.

Some of the missing scientists are found by episode’s end in a frozen lake, themselves frozen, and beyond Foster, there are supporting roles being played by the always-welcome Fiona Shaw and John Hawkes.  But is there too much story here right now?  Perhaps, but I’ll see for myself in the meantime.