Episode 2 deepens our understanding of the characters as Danvers and Navarro continue to investigate the bizarre happenings of Tsalal station. Here’s our True Detective: Night Country episode 2 review.
Welcome back to our weekly reviews of True Detective: Night Country! We’re going to assume that you’ve seen episode one, so we will be talking about what happened at the end of that, so this is your final warning for spoilers. We won’t spoil any surprises in this week’s episode, so you’re safe.
At the end of last week’s episode, the six men who disappeared without a trace from Tsalal research station were found, encased in ice with horrified looks on their face, as if trying to escape someone. Or something.
Episode two of Night Country mostly deals with the aftermath of that discovery. Jodie Foster’s Detective Liz Danvers works hard to keep the case in Ennis, but there’s a slight issue. Where do you keep bodies that are frozen in weird shapes and positions without breaking them apart? Danvers finally figures it out and there’s something dryly funny about where the corpsicle is stored.
For the most part, episode two aims to deepen our understanding of the characters. Co-writer and director Issa López drip feeds us information about the Tsalal case, but also an old case involving a Native woman, whose tongue was ripped out and seemingly found at Tsalal. We slowly begin to understand why Navarro has never been able to let go of it and the tension between Navarro and Danvers is palpable. We’re itching to know what caused these two women to fall out in such a spectacular manner.
Foster continues to shine here. Liz Danvers feels like such a juicy character for Foster to sink her teeth into, one she hasn’t necessarily had access to for a long time. On paper, Danvers can be challenging and downright unlikeable, but Foster has an extraordinary ability to create nuance and imply a rich history.
We also gain more insight into Danvers’ relationship with her step-daughter Leah, who gets caught filming a tryst with a younger girl. Their relationship is clearly strained and I look forward to seeing more of Leah. Episode 2 lays a foundation for another fascinating relationship, but I do wonder if Night Country will start to feel a little crowded as it progresses.
We’re also introduced to Christopher Eccleston’s Ted Corsaro, who has a complicated relationship with Danvers. Eccleston is always a welcome presence in any project, but Night Country has clearly positioned itself as a show about women and to a certain extent, misogyny. I’m getting strong Girl With The Dragon Tattoo vibes from this and not just because of the snowy setting.
John Hawkes, one of the most underrated American actors, is reliably good as well, but Hank is a frustratingly thin character. This might still change, we’re only on episode two, but the story does threaten to come to a screeching halt every time López cuts away from Danvers or Kali Reis’ Navarro.
Episode two doesn’t have quite as many revelations and shocking moments as episode one, but the horror vibe is ever so compelling. The polar night gives the series a naturally dark vibe, both visually and thematically, even if it’s not the most subtle way of doing it. There’s a real elegance to López’s direction and the way she films Night Country.
We’re also treated to a lot of shots of the corpsicle, which looks fantastic. Not a single shot of it fails to be shocking in its detail, but it’s not used for shock value. López takes her time with these shots so the horrifying image can be ingrained into our eyeballs.
Episode two might be slower in pace than episode one, but Night Country remains deliciously gripping. The central mystery is compelling, but I’m equally intrigued by the other themes introduced such as Leah’s experimentation with identity and the implied spiritual, supernatural elements.
Join us again next week as we delve deeper into True Detective: Night Country with our review of episode three in which the plot thickens.