'True Detective: Night Country' E4 Sent Me Into Full Psycho-Reddit-Fan-Theory Mode

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'True Detective: Night Country' Episode 4 RecapHBO

Looking for True Detective: Night Country Season 4, Episode 3? Read our recap here.

I've had a day. I missed a flight, made friends with a very kind woman from Delta (I won't name you here, but let this moment in a True Detective recap stand as a measure of your greatness), ate a nauseating amount of mini-M&Ms, and now, I'm 40,000 feet in the air next to Mr. Boogerly Sneezecough III. (😮💨... 🤧... 😢.)

At one point, during the seven (7) hours I spent at JFK today, I heard a tune that should make all of us True Detective fans smile: "Twist and Shout." No, I didn't whisper "she's awake," take off my pants, and saunter into the chilly New York air—but yes, I took it as a cosmic hint to start my episode 4 recap. Since I had some extra time on my hands, I dove entirely too far into r/True Detective. Not just the season 4 chatter—I threw it all the way back to season 1. Nine years ago. And boy, this was the perfect episode for it. Pray that I don't tell Mr. Boogerly he's not real and shout my way off this plane.

The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer Is By Singing Loud for Jodie Foster to Hear

It's a Christmas episode! True Detective, you softie. Let's give it up for the most depressing holiday television we've seen since The Office's "A Benihana Christmas." (Racism, sexism... leave the Office rewatch you were planning for Aaron Rodgers.) Before we dive into fan-theoryland, here's an incomplete list of the awful things episode 4 gave its characters for Christmas:

🌀 Hank Prior's Russian bride is—surprise, surprise—is a no-show. The poor guy is ghosted by the airport. He celebrates by chugging whiskey (which will be a recurring image in this recap), watching Elf, and imposing on his son.

🌀 Christmas Eve is quite a bit worse for Prior Jr. Danvers resorts to full-on hazing the intrepid detective, giving him so many orders that he can't spend the night with his family. When Prior does return home, he crawls into bed and quips to his wife, "Say it: I ruined your life and you didn't want to have the baby."Yikes, man.

🌀 Navarro's sister commits suicide—in a manner that's reminiscent of what happened to the Tsalal scientists. (Wanders outsides, removes her clothes, and walks until she falls into the lake. She neatly folds her garments, too.) When the news makes its way to Navarro, she tries to take it out on that deadbeat from episode 1. This time, he has friends. Navarro loses the fight.

🌀 Ennis police catch Danvers's stepdaughter, Leah, graffiting a local building as part of the local mining protests. Leah spends the night at Prior's, while Danvers takes to a bottle of Absolut and drives (yes, drives) to Captain Connelly's place for another booty call. He's also watching Elf.

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Mondays, am I right?HBO

Can the Dead Shut Up, Please, So I Can Write this Recap?

I'm impressed that episode 4 managed to significantly advance the Tsalal case—and the paranormal of it all—given the above. But it's a testament to Night Country showrunner Issa López's whip-smart direction and writing that this episode moved without a hitch. (Take that, Nic Pizzolatto.)

Last week, Navarro and Danvers locked in on Raymond Clark, the Tsalal scientist who dated Annie K. and was missing from the corpsicle. This week, a new suspicious player entered the game: Otis Heiss. Prior Jr. takes an interest in what little record there is of his time in Alaska: German man, mysterious accident, found with similar injuries as the Tsalal crew (ruptured eardrums, burned corneas). Prior tells Danvers that he turned into a junkie after the incident and his whereabouts are unknown. We'll catch up with Heiss in a moment when, you know, we have a pretty insomnia-inducing meet-cute with him.

Before we get there, we learn a little bit more about Annie's disappearance in episode 4. At the beginning of the episode, Danvers rewatches Annie's video—the one where she's in front of an ice block and seemingly taken away by an evil force—and notices something: fossils in the ice. Later on, Danvers and Navarro visit who I assume is the town's resident archeologist. He's yet another one of Danvers's exes. (Navarro: "Is there anyone in this town you haven't fucked?") After some medium-to-heavy coercion from Danvers, the man delivers two important pieces of information: 1) The fossils are likely prehistoric whale bones, which I can't even begin to make sense of, and 2) Annie recorded her video in a local cave system, which was mapped out by... Otis Heiss.

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There it is again.HBO


You know, when Navarro had her Exorcist moment—and it seemed as if True Detective was finally ready to lean fully into paranormal territory—I baked a caveat into my recap: mental health issues. Mostly because of Rose Aguineau, who told Navarro not to confuse psychic abilities with mental health issues.

Well, it looks like I didn't have to worry. Just before they raid the dredges, Navarro visits a very-hungover Danvers. It's a hell of a conversation. Navarro tells Danvers about her sister—Danvers is sympathetic, of course—but then they start talking about the Wheeler case. (Domestic abuse call, whistling guy, episode 3.) First, Navarro worries that she's the next victim of what she believes is a family curse—which took her mother, and now, her cousin. "You're doing the thing you did with Wheeler," Danvers says. "You saw something in that room." Thanks to a flashback, we learn that she did—Wheeler's victim, looking just as undead as Anders Lund.

This moment feels especially important, because Danvers is effectively acknowledging her own supernatural suspicions, by way of admitting Navarro's clairvoyance. Until this point, Night Country played a will-I-or-won't-it-go-there game via the two detectives: Navarro represented the paranormal path, while Danvers promised a (mostly) facts-based endgame, a la season 1. More than ever, it feels like we're on Navarro's trail.

And I have to mention: the one-eyed polar bear also makes a cameo in this scene—in its cute-stuffed-animal form. We see the big-ass-holy-shit version earlier in the episode. More on our cuddly friend below.

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Is night country... in there?HBO

Big Daddy Spiral

I'm itching to get to my theory, so let's do this quickly: at the end of the episode, Navarro and Danvers raid the dredges, where (duh) some really freaky shit is going down. The former detective experiences a surge in her—I'm just going to call it like it is now—supernatural abilities, seeing her sister around the building. As for Danvers, she sprints after a shady figure, who turns out to be Otis Heiss. Now, we're treated to yet another Danvers interrogation that immediately devolves into Conjuring territory. Heiss utters three bizarro lines:

“He’s gone. He went back down to hide.”

“He’s hiding in the night country.”

“We’re all in the night country now.”

Earlier this week, during another r/TrueDetective foray, I saw a user (I can't find the post, please forgive me) post Rust Cohle's vision of the giant, nighttime spiral in the season 1 finale. At the time—we're getting to my airport research now—True Detective fans speculated that it was a portal to Carcosa. What the f*ck is Carcosa? you're surely asking. This took me a while, but this Reddit post really helped me. The TLDR: season 1 was heavily inspired by Robert W. Chambers's book of short stories, The King in Yellow. Many of the stories reference a play (which only exists in the world of the book) called "The King in Yellow." Anyone who sees the play? The titular king makes them lose their mind. Also important: in the book, there's a hellish city named Corcosa that exists in another dimension.

Now, season 1's child-trafficking cult worshipped a figure they called The Yellow King, who turned out to be Errol Childress. He lived in a place that they dubbed Corcosa, which is where Rust and Marty's final tussle went down. (I'm grossly shortening what could be a 10,000-word, Rust-inspired monologue. You have to have some season 1 recall for this one.)

Now check out what the Reddit user (from 2014!) wrote about Corcosa. "The only way to access this other universe is through ancient incantations, occult activity and performing abominations which twist our reality to the point that a gateway opens, that gateway would lead to that other universe. What Rust saw was that gateway, chances are you have to be a bit clairvoyant to even sense it but Rust is a fairly deep and 'sensitive' (as in clairvoyant) character."

Sound familiar? Now think about Heiss's implication that Ennis isn't really Ennis anymore—it's the night country. It's making me think that "night country" and Ennis is what the Upside Down is to Hawkins. Have parts of season 4 (or the entire story) taken place in another plane of existence? Has every weirdo occurrence in Night Country—from the polar bear, to everyone's visions, to the corpsicle—is just what happens in Corcosa?

Maybe I've gone too far. All I know is that I have to get back to Mr. Boogerly, who is watching Mission — Impossible — Em — Dash — Reckoning and my other seatmate, who keeps screaming at his friend (Joey) from across the aisle, because he wanted to know what he was drinking, so he could order the same thing. They're having whiskey.

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