Sleuths for Truth: A TRUE DETECTIVE Roundtable – Season 4, Episode 2

In week 2, the roundtable expands as everyone tries to ask the right questions about the Rust Cohle connection, the corpsicle, and the rowdy lovelife of Liz Danvers

Before we dive into this week’s episode, let me first remind everyone… there will be spoilers. So let this serve as a SPOILER WARNING and if you’re caught up with the show, we hope you’ll stay, share your theories, and let us know what you think about True Detective: Night Country. We’ll be posting every week on Wednesday or Thursday (or in the case of this week, Friday, due to my not feeling well this week) with our latest thoughts on what happened and what we think is going to happen. If you’d like to join in next week’s post, you can submit your thoughts to me at [email protected] by 11:59 PM EST Tuesday.

As Sarah predicted last week, the Internet trolls were out in full force complaining about the first episode all week long leading up to Episode 2’s drop on Sunday. Complaints almost all seemed rooted in the lack of a strong or likable male lead character and the focus on two strong females front and center. The trolls attempted to guise their true motives in some cases, while in others outright complained about not having any male protagonists to latch onto. This is nothing new for female centered television and film, sadly… but the overall response from people worth listening to seemed rather positive.

As we dive into week 2, the show has begun to build out its world, as well as its connections to the first season – in both (all but) confirming that Travis Cohle is indeed Rust’s deceased father and the involvement of the Tuttle United corporation. Exactly how deep these connections will go remains speculative, but the episode makes a point to begin to truly develop the backstories, connections, and characters at play in our small Alaska town.

This week, Sarah and Brad return to discuss this latest episode with me, and we’re also joined by Cinapse’s own Brendan Foley and my wife, Brooke Harlan

Sarah Jane

Ooo wee, this second show did not disappoint!

This episode had everything; a giant corpsicle, stone cold bitchiness, Doctor Who having sex…  

In this week’s installment, after removing the bodies of the Tsalal researchers from the ice and installing them in the town’s ice rink to thaw, Danvers and Office Pete discover that the men are all naked and have some weird-ass injuries. Well, that’s after finding out that one of them IS STILL ALIVE. What?! They also discover a spiral on one of the men’s foreheads. That spiral is important because it also is the same spiral that another researcher had tattooed on his chest. A symbol, I think, might also be from season 1 of the show. Look, I could be wrong here. I do think there were a couple of nuggets thrown our way, though, when the last name “Cohle” was mentioned. I believe Detective Rust Cohle had said that he and his father had spent some time in Alaska. Again, could be wrong, but it would be awesome if they managed to tie this season to the first one. 

Still loving the performances here. Everyone is on top form. I knew Christopher Eccleston was in the show and he pops up here as Captain Connelly. It was mentioned in the show that he was the one that “appointed” Danvers to her role as Chief. They are apparently fuck buddies, as well. That scene with those two was just as much a “jump scare” as anything else in the show so far. I’m totally not a prude, don’t get me wrong, it was just that I wasn’t expecting it. Get out of here with the “Eww, it’s olds having sex. Gross!”. People older than 50 do have sex, ya know?

I’m totally onboard with this season. As I mentioned last week (I think, anyway), I’ve loved each season of True Detective. Some seasons take an episode or two to really get into it but I’m hooked from the beginning with Season 4. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re in a place pretty foreign to me, for the most part. It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s got those Thing vibes going on, and that giant meat sculpture… I kinda want it in my house.

(@FookThis on X)

Brad Milne

Episode 2 of True Detective‘s 4th season picks up where the first episode left off – throwing the audience into the heart of the investigation. Of course it wouldn’t be an episode of True Detective if there weren’t complications. These complications mostly arise from the introduction of Captain Ted Connelly, played with beleaguered authority by the always excellent Christopher Eccelston. While Danvers is preoccupied with trying to solve the riddle of how to move the arrangement of bodies of the deceased frozen in the ice, she receives a call from Lulu, the office secretary, that she should perhaps return to the station. At the Ennis station, after some back and forth between the two characters who have an easy familiarity with one another. However, Connolly thinks it would be best for all involved if the bodies were moved – which Danvers is against vehemently and takes to quoting the official rule book at her superior with deference but unquestioned authority. It’s a nice moment between two great actors, which the series has become masterful at displaying.

Threads of connective tissue between season one and this season are becoming more pronounced. True Detective‘s first season begins to loom large in the second episode. The connection that was hinted at in the first episode is cemented, with the confirmation that the Travis who’s ghost dance at the end of the first episode lead, to Fiona Shaw’s Rose Agunieau to the discovery of the scientists at the Tsalal arctic research station frozen in the ice on the lake that surrounds Ennis, is in fact Rustin Cohle’s father. There is also the mention of Tuttle United which was obviously integral to the investigation in the first season of the show. There are other connections as well, but they feel too much like spoilers.

As much as this season is leaning into connections to the first season, Night Country is also leaning in heavily to the horror elements much like the first season. Especially with the terrified guttural screams of one of the men from the corpsicle as he awakens from his frozen tomb, in the episodes cold open. The corpsicle itself is something bordering on nightmare fuel. The corpses of the men frozen in obvious states of terror, with wounds consistent with self infliction, like trying to chew off their own hands, caused by hypothermia.

The strong feminine energy that permeated the first episode continues in episode 2. Danvers and Navarro continue to impress upon the viewer that these two are not women who are waiting to be saved. They are women who take control. Navarro in episode one and Danvers in episode 2 are shown as sexual creatures but never through the male gaze, which works to the shows benefit. It is clear that they are not women to be easily cowed, which is a much more realistic interpretation of the feminine than the series had leaned into much before.

Much like in episode one the unrelenting cold feels like a character of its own. Brought on by the permanent midnight in the town. Every scene out of doors you can feel the chill of the characters.

The same thrill I got from episode one of the series, I had for episode 2. I am along for the ride right until the end.

(@BradMilne79 on X)

Brooke Harlan

This week’s episode began revealing some new tiny crumbs and added more layers to the mystery.  We now know that Rust (from Season 1)’s father was the weird ghost guy who pointed Rose to the direction of the corpsicle (kinda love that Danvers repeatedly uses this term throughout the episode).  Also, the Tuttle family is behind the funding of the Tsalal research facility.  And, that damn spiral is back.

And what about the flashbacks both Navarro and Danvers keep having?  And the weird one-eyed polar bear that keeps showing up?  They both seem to have some big time tragedies in their pasts and they are both so hardened and angry.  Hopefully we get to learn more backstory there, because right now there are more questions than answers.

A few of my favorite parts of the episode:

Watching the truck drag a trailer with corpsicle aboard (covered with a tarp of course) thru the town while The Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick” plays.  It brought a little levity to the horror that has just been discovered.

The (first) guy who somehow survived said corpsicle?  I’m anxious to see if he actually recovers so he can reveal more information as to what happened.  But I’m not optimistic because he probably lost his mind during the process.  And then of course Clark, who has somehow gone missing during the thaw.  How does one survive that?  It’s gotta be supernatural.

And finally, finding the creepy trailer with the straw dolls and the spirals and the life size straw body on the bed was creepy as hell, especially with no light.  Have I mentioned I just love the dark and cold of the winter Alaskan setting.  It’s so different than past seasons and really amplifies the creepiness and horror of the story.

(@brookiellendesigns on IG)

Brendan Foley

The thing that’s most striking to me across these first couple episodes, this second one in particular, is how much Lopez is weaponizing the location of her story to further the feeling of overwhelming dread. Huge plains of seemingly infinite darkness surround the characters during every exterior scenes. Many is the overhead shot where a particular car or home appears to be the lone tiny star in an utterly empty sky. Beyond lending one helluva lot of production value to the proceedings, this embracing of that emptiness makes it all too easy to believe that Ennis, Alaska really is a place where the dead walk freely amongst the living. 

As for the plot of the episode, look, that opening shock is so, well, shocking that even if nothing could possibly top the screaming corpsicle, that’s more than enough to impress. But Lopez also deserves credit for how nimbly she handles the procedural element of what’s shaping up to be a big, sprawling case (or cases) involving scientists, polluting mines, murdered native women, cultists, True Detective season 1, and whatever mysticism is in the offing. 

It all leaves me pretty damn amped to see where things go next.  

(@TheTrueBrendanF on X)

I have the privilege and advantage of reading everyone else’s thoughts before working on my contribution to the weekly roundtables – thus, I don’t have to do much recap and most of my thoughts have been shared by others by the time I compile everything and add my twist. This is the case again, as the contributors here have covered most of what was going through my head throughout this episode.

But, as I thought more on everything I had a few things to add, so let’s start with the water. At first glance, this season seems to be moving in a supernatural bent. However, I think we may find that the water pollution is the cause of the dreams and visions. I think there’s a chance that there’s a poisoning that is affecting the minds of the townsfolk. Much like Rust’s visions had a more scientific explanation in his mental health and substance issues, I think the visions here could be happening – at least, in part – due to the poisoning of the water.

Another important thing that I can’t help but keep dwelling on is that it seems almost certain that Hank Prior was the Chief before Danvers was appointed. This seems to suggest that he was the Chief when Anne Kowtok died. Thus, I can’t help but assume that the file his son swiped from him for Danvers could lead to implicating him in some form of cover up. Perhaps I just dislike him enough to want him to be the bad guy, but it seems at least plausible.

All this said and done, it’s hard not to get sucked in by this story, this world, and this great acting. Lopez’s writing and direction have been top notch so far and the cast feels perfect in how they are telling this story.

Can’t wait to see what comes next of the corpsicle, the story of Travis Cohle, the importance of the carcosa (the spiral thingy), and the involvement of Tuttle. Without the Season 1 connections, I feel like this season would still be engrossing, but with these connections I’m addicted to it and waiting for my next fix.

Next Week’s Episode

Previous post THE UNDERDOGGS – Snoop Dogg Tackles Sports Comedy with Hilarious Excess
Next post Sundance 2024: SUGARCANE