A spoiler-filled deep dive into the True Detective: Night Country finale

true detective night country finale
Share this Article:

We delve deeper into the shocking, violent ending of True Detective: Night Country and dissect all those juicy revelations. 

True Detective: Night Country had us glued to our screens for six straight weeks. We respectfully kept our episode reviews spoiler-free on this site, but now that the finale is out and everyone has hopefully recovered from it, let’s talk about it, shall we? 

If it wasn’t clear from the introduction, this article will contain a lot of spoilers. All of the spoilers, in fact. If you’re not up to date on all episodes of True Detective: Night Country, kindly go watch it and return to this post after. This is your final warning: spoilers lie ahead. 

night country finn bennett jodie foster
Credit: Sky

Still here? Excellent! 

In the final episode of Night Country, we finally uncovered what happened at Tsalal station. Navarro and Danvers find Clark, the missing scientist, alive and living at the station, which explains why Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is still blaring on the TV. Navarro forced Clark to talk and he finally admitted to everything. 

Annie K, the Native woman whose murder was connected to Tsalal station thanks to the discovery of her tongue on the facility’s floor, had found out what the scientists were really doing there. As we already know, they were trying to extract and study the DNA of a micro-organism which could essentially cure diseases like Alzheimer’s. It would have been a life-changer, but the permafrost in Alaska was far too thick to get through. 

So the scientists pushed the mining company to pollute the waters more in order to make the permafrost softer, leading to dozens stillbirths and deaths, specifically of Native women and their babies. 

Annie, understandably, kicked off when she realised what Clark and the others were doing, leading the men to brutally kill her to preserve their secrets. In the underground lab, Navarro and Danvers find a star-shaped instrument that the men used to stab Annie with, but it was Clark himself who finished his beloved Annie off. Hank, bribed by the mining company, moved the body to where Navarro discovers her, setting the entire story in motion. 

true detective night country corpsicle
Credit: Sky

So, what happened to the men of Tsalal station then? Clark was haunted by Annie’s murder and when he utters “she’s awake” at the beginning of the very first episode, he is indeed referring to Annie – or at least her spirit. Remember, ghosts are very real in Ennis, and they’re powerful, powerful beings. 

However, it’s not Annie who stripped and sent the men of Tsalal into the icy storm. It was the cleaning women. They admit to it too; this is their story and in it, they fight back and reclaim the narrative. They accidentally find the ice cave with the secret laboratory while cleaning the station and figure it all out, taking revenge on the men, sending them to their cold deaths. 

I’ve spoken a lot about the supernatural element of the show, something I thoroughly enjoyed. The finale, while offering a logical explanation to almost everything, pleasingly never abandons it. It’s not given a name in Night Country, but there is a spiritual level, something higher that lives in Ennis and has played a part in the mystery. How would you explain the tongue otherwise? The cleaning women firmly deny leaving it at a station, leading me to think something else did, in order to bring justice to Annie. 

Ultimately, Night Country proved itself to be a show about gendered violence and misogyny as well as oppression. To me, it’s powerful, but I do wonder if there will be some pushback to this. True Detective has been almost overwhelmingly male through its three seasons, but Night Country had such a strong angle on women and women’s suffering and I worry it won’t please everyone. 

true detective night country julia
Credit: Sky

So far, the finale has been critically acclaimed and True Detective: Night Country is now the most watched True Detective season made so far, averaging 12.7 million pairs of eyes across its six episodes. Lopez’s ambitious, John Carpenter-inspired take on the detective genre clearly paid off. 

The final episode and the replaying of the happenings at Tsalal work almost as a revenge fantasy. The men, who are truly vile here, get what they deserve, no question about it. It’s a bold move from writer-director Issa Lopez who has time and time again during this season shown courage and a real vision. 

If I had to choose a favourite scene, it would be one in the finale. It’s a moment that I described in the episode review as both brutal and tender and that delicate tricky balance is why I still can’t stop thinking about it. 

It’s where Prior (Finn Bennett) has gone to Rose (Fiona Shaw) for help getting rid of the bodies of his dad Hank, whom he shot in the head at the end of episode 5, and Otis Heiss, whom Hank shot dead so Navarro and Danvers wouldn’t be able to find how to get to the ice caves. 

Rose tells Prior to turn around and Prior initially protests, but Rose, in a very Rose-like manner, tells him to turn around unless he wants to see her cut into his father to let the air out of his lungs so the body won’t float to the surface. 

true detective night country hank
Credit: Sky

Prior turns and Rose gets on with it. She then tells him to drop the bodies into the water. “Finish what you started. Close the door,” she tells him. After Prior has dropped Hank and Otis into the icy depths, the two sit together in a rare moment of solace as a caption on the screen reads January 1. A new year, a new start for Ennis. 

Prior has been the moral compass of Night Country for most of its run. He still has an innocence about him, something that Ennis has stripped from Danvers, Navarro and certainly of Hank. There’s something moving about Rose shielding Prior, preserving at least a smidge of that innocence by having him turn around but still making him finish the job and feel the weight of it. 

It’s scenes like this that make True Detective so special. That balance between wickedness and affection. A similar quality was present in the relationship between Navarro and her sister Julia, who died in episode four after walking into the freezing sea. It was a thorny relationship, but one that was always rooted in love and sisterly bond. 

The ambiguous ending also left Navarro’s fate open to interpretation. She is seen finally indulging in her desire to just drop everything and walk away. Whether she walks into her death or perhaps a new life somewhere else, free of her demons, is up to the viewers to decide. It feels rare to have this much faith placed on the viewers by such a bit network series. It’s a treat, though. 

Overall, True Detective: Night Country is perhaps the strongest season of the classic anthology series. Sure, season one is pretty great but there’s a boldness to Night Country that we didn’t even know was missing from previous seasons of True Detective. If we get another season of as strong as this, we should consider ourselves lucky. 

All episodes of True Detective: Night Country are now available on Sky Atlantic and NOW. 

Share this Article:

More like this