True Detective: Night Country episode 3 review | The plot thickens

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Danvers and Navarro, now working together, pursue new leads for Annie’s murder and the Tsalal case. Here’s our True Detective: Night Country episode 3 review. 

Welcome back to our weekly reviews of True Detective: Night Country! The series is now officially half-way through and I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am. Night Country has to be one of the most atmospheric series on telly for quite some time. A reminder that these reviews are always spoiler-free for this week’s episode but will discuss previous episodes in detail. 

What I’m enjoying the most about Night Country is the element of the supernatural. In the very first episode, in the first moments, one of the men utters, terrified, “she’s awake”. In episode three, we still don’t know who or what ‘she’ is. 

There’s also the case of Rose’s (Fiona Shaw) dead lover who showed Rose where to find the frozen corpses of the six men in episode one. Night Country is filled with ghosts and demons of all sorts, but the way series director and co-writer Issa López approaches them in a manner not too dissimilar from her 2017 film Tigers Are Not Afraid. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if you haven’t seen that film, you should correct that immediately. 

But back to True Detective and Ennis, Alaska. There’s almost a romantic quality to how Rose speaks of her late partner who still shows himself to her and only her. Ghosts are very present in Ennis, but they aren’t necessarily to be feared. 

true detective night country episode 3
Credit: Sky

Episode three gives us more Navarro and Danvers together, which is a welcome development. True Detective has always embraced the buddy cop dynamic but the pairing of Foster and Reis finally matches the deeply compelling energy of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson from series one. 

The one subplot that feels a little out of place is that of Peter Prior, Danvers’ protege and Hank’s son. Prior is so committed to serving under Danvers that his marriage is on the brink of falling apart while Hank is almost openly hostile towards his son, striking him across the face when he finds out Prior took the Annie K. files from his flat in episode 2.  

It’s needlessly melodramatic in a series that is otherwise so focused and has struck a nice balance between the thriller elements and straightforward horror. Night Country is particularly invested in the women of Ennis, especially the Indigenous community and Prior constantly takes the focus away from them but doesn’t offer anything equally interesting in return. 

The final ten minutes of the episode are particularly tense and involve one delightfully nasty surprise. López is still pretty restrained when it comes to proper horror, although that has always been part of True Detective’s DNA. There’s a strong cinematic quality to True Detective, always has been. Night Country feels distinctly like its own thing, probably because it wasn’t originally intended to be a True Detective season, but the thematic connections feel strong.

Season 1 and 3 of True Detective opted for a narrative that unfolds in two different timelines while Night Country adopts season 2’s much more linear narrative. Although season 2 is perhaps the least liked season of True Detective, the linear storytelling gives Night Country some much needed urgency but it’s really López focused direction that keeps everything together here. If anything, Night Country proves that we truly are in a golden age of TV. It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited to tune into a TV show weekly. 

Join us again next week for more True Detective: Night Country as Navarro is faced with a tough decision regarding her sister. 

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