Admittedly, I have not been as active here as I would like to have been over the last several months, but what better way to reignite things than some discussion of one of the best shows on TV?
If you can believe it, it's been 10 years since the premiere of the first season of True Detective.
I feel so fucking old.
I am one of many that hold the first season of True Detective in the pantheon of Greatest TV Seasons ever made. It is phenomenal, groundbreaking, and at times, truly horrifying. The acting, writing & direction are all top notch, and it can be argued that the show has been chasing its tail ever since trying to recapture that magic.
Either way, here we are, three seasons later with a new installment on hand. AdmittedIy, I love the second and third seasons, which have taken (mostly S2) an absolute beating from critics & audiences. How do you follow up a masterpiece? As a lifelong Patriots fan, I believe Tom Brady comes around once in a lifetime, and you chase that high forever.
The clamoring from fans has asked for more of that season one mythology, and it certainly seems that HBO has listened with True Detective: Night Country.
When the opening credits roll, you can see that this is meant to be a different show, clearly stating the show is "Based on the series True Detective Created by Nic Pizzolato" with Billie Eilish hovering in the background. You can argue that an injection of new blood was exactly what the series needed, despite the fact the initial creator of the show can't seem to stop sniping on social media like a jaded asshole.
Regardless, Showrunner Issa Lopez (Tigers Are Not Afraid) clearly holds the weird mythos Pizzolatto laid forth a decade ago with a state of reverence that is more than just Easter Eggs for eagle-eyed fans. I, for one, am all the way the fuck in, and cannot wait to see where this goes.
Here's everything I've noticed, thought, wondered about, and searched Reddit for after the first 2 episodes of True Detective: Night Country, in case you give a flying fuck (obviously, huge spoilers & theorizing ahead):
What's up with all the weird animal stuff?
So we get a look at this right from the opening shot of the series. A hunter, following a group of Caribou (Elk maybe?) witnesses a heard of them commit mass suicide by jumping off a cliff as soon as the "long night" sets in. Strange, eerie stuff, for sure.
We also, get several looks at a one-eyed polar bear that Navarro (Kali Reis) almost hits in the middle of the road, and an identical stuffed animal that most likely belonged to Danvers' (Jodie Foster) son before he died or went missing.
Finally, one blink and you'll miss it thing that ties into this is when Danvers goes to arrest the abuser in season one at a crab processing plant (named "Blue King" 👀), where the foreman says that the crab population has significantly decreased recently.
Hard to say at this point what is causing these strange anomalies, but I keep seeing one theory popping up that, while not supernatural, could make sense: a shift in magnetic fields in the Earth's core.
This could explain the aforementioned strange animal behavior, and potentially all of the happenings at Tsalal Station with the dead (and missing) scientists.
Cosmic Horror Influences & Easter Eggs
Speaking of Tsalal Station, that name is a reference to a couple of different things:
"Tsalal" is a Hebrew word that literally translates "to be or grow dark." Very fitting for a show that takes place in total darkness and is subtitled "Night Country."
Here's a really nerdy one for you. In Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym from Nantucket," the title character visits an island named... you guessed it, Tsalal. On this island, there are strangle flora and fauna, along with murderous inhabitants that kill of most of Pym's fellow adventurers. And yes, if you watched the fabulous The Fall of the House of Usher on Netflix, this character was played by Mark Hamill.
In addition, within the rather large physical media collection at Tsalal Station, you can clearly see a copy of John Carpenter's The Thing on VHS. They clearly have good taste. In addition, Lopez has mentioned several times how huge of an influence The Thing has had on this season.
Lastly, before the Caribou scene and even before the opening credits roll, we're presented with a quote from someone named Hildred Castaigne:
"...For we do not know what beasts the night dreams when its hours grow too long for even God to be awake."
Hildred Castaigne is the protagonist in Robert Chambers' 1895 work The King in Yellow. Sound familiar? Of course it does, because if you've seen season one, you know that The Yellow King had a huge influence on that season and was the deity the cult worshipped.
Now, while I do not necessarily think there is something supernatural going on here, I do love that they are leaning into the cosmic horror roots of this show. As a horror fan, I was certainly hoping they'd go back here.
Connections to Season One
Now, for the fanboys like myself, you probably picked up on these as soon as they graced the screen, but for the uninitiated, here are a few direct references to season one and all its glory that certainly don't seem like a coincidence.
When Danvers and Pete Prior (Finn Bennett) are discussing who funds all the research the scientists are doing at Tsalal Station, they mention that the grants tie back to a corporation owned by the Tuttle family.
The Tuttle family, of course, is the family at the root of The cult that murdered women and children in the first season. Coincidence? I think not.
The Priors (Bennett & John Hawkes) also seem like there may be more than meets the eye. Could they be related to the Tuttles?
And, in what might be the most blatant fan servicing throughout the first two episodes (which I'm not sure I'm into at this point) the very clearly deceased man we see leading Rose (Fiona Shaw) to the massive pile of Frozen dead scientists is supposed to be Travis Cohle.
That's right, Rust Cohle's father himself makes an appearance this season. The million dollar question: will we see Rust? While I personally don't think so, the possibility is out there.
There are a million more questions to be asked here, I'm sure, but these were some of the big things I picked up on.
How does the mining company tie into the story? How did Ennis's water "turn bad?" Is there something supernatural going on at the heart of this story, or is there an Earthly explanation for the whole situation?
There are 4 episodes left in the season, so we'll see where everything leads and hopefully get some answers, but only time will tell.
In the meantime, what do you think of True Detective: Night Country so far? Is there anything you've noticed that I missed? Let me know in the comments.
And remember, time is a flat circle, my friends.