True Detective: Night Country: Part 2
January 22, 2024 12:03 PM - Season 4, Episode 2 - Subscribe

As Danvers and Prior set out to learn more about Tsalal, and find an unlikely location for the physical evidence, Capt. Connelly threatens to move the case to Anchorage; Navarro and Danvers separately find a connection.
posted by Kybard (32 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
So, the thing just before the opening credits, was that just a feint?
posted by migurski at 12:45 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]

The scene immediately after the opening credits suggests Lund is alive, albeit in an induced coma and about to lose a leg (no mention of whether they can reattach the arm)

That seemed to be a mix of a practical corpsicle with a live action performance composited on for the head. Best corpse jumpscare since Se7en if you ask me.
posted by Molesome at 1:19 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]

I’m having trouble keeping track of the scientists. Recap says eight were in the lab, but I count seven in the show: five in the icicle, one in surgery, and one (tattoo guy) missing.

Agreed that was an excellent jump scare.
posted by migurski at 1:40 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]

Great second episode!

Molesome- I immediately thought of Se7en, too! SO GOOD. And in the scene after that.....apparently this is maybe a thing that can happen? We don't know how long they were there, yet. I will be surprised if he wakes up and talks.

Stray thoughts:

Now that they've all but rolled out the carpet for Travis the Barefoot Mime Ghost being Rust's (S1) dad, I wonder if that will lead anywhere or if it will ever be mentioned again.

"Don't confuse the spirit world with mental health issues," is now on the board for this season's version of "Time is a flat circle." Right next to "corpsicle."

Does anyone else get nervous seeing all of those dogs left outside of the burger stand? Bring the puppers inside! And are there any cats in that town?

The inside of that trailer was also very John Doe's notebooks from Se7en and I see endless screenshots and reading in my future.
posted by haplesschild at 1:52 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]

Molesome and haplesschild, the 2nd official podcast episode mentions Se7en and then Silence of the Lambs, so of course Jodie Foster's presence.
posted by kingless at 2:03 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]

Huskies are good in temperatures down to -50 so I think they're fine out there haha. I guess there is still the wandering polar bear threat...

I thought it was weird how they never addressed the reanimated scientist at all after the phone call. Even an offhand "we can talk to him when he wakes up" would've alleviated some of my wondering.

Overall, I'm finding these episodes kind of lacking a certain True Detective "style" but am still enjoying them for their own sake. The expository dialogue is kind of killing me though. When Navarro says "Wrong question" and then goes "... just something Danvers used to say..." don't tell us that!! We just saw Danvers say it fifteen times in a row! Same with two separate characters telling us that Ennis is a prime location to see dead people. Lots of stuff just seems very heavily delivered, and I hope they find a balance soon cuz they only have six episodes for the season.

I can't shake the feeling that this was a totally different pilot that got the True Detective branding slapped on it, which makes me feel bad for the creator because that is both a blessing and a curse.

Anyways I'm fully invested in the story now and can't wait for more episodes!
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 2:18 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]

This is really atrocious writing. Just really boring stuff. The notebooks have some really clever scribbling like “get me out of here”. Wow.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:08 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]

Not to be a hater, because I’m still enjoying this, but I have to agree that some of the writing could have used an additional pass. Especially egregious: the exchange where Navarro and her man friend are discussing the case over pancakes and she ponders where someone might possibly hide a trailer and then, in unison, they both exclaim “the nook!” Might as well have followed that howler up with “by Jove, I think we’ve got it!”

Still having a good time with the show, however, and I’ll watch Jodie Foster in damn near anything.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:25 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]

The notebooks have some really clever scribbling like “get me out of here”

That's clearly the prehistoric staphylococcus talking through Clark's hand. It wants out of the ice.
posted by Molesome at 2:28 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]

Are there any cats in that town?

Not any more...
posted by Paul Slade at 8:39 AM on January 23

I find it kind of impressive how little interest this show has aroused in me about any of the scientists. I don't know if it's because there are too many and only 1 seems relevant to Annie's case, which is the only case I care about; or if the weird accidental ice statue of dudes reenacting the Dyatlov Pass incident slowly melting in the ice rink is too absurd for my brain to treat seriously; or if my empathy is just broken. But that entire plot continues to feel like "crazy shenanigans to obfuscate the real mystery" to me.

Rust's dad ending up a ghost in small town Alaska hassling his ex about getting involved in spooky deaths seems extremely fitting.
posted by the primroses were over at 9:00 AM on January 23

The whole bit about the scientists having just stayed out there for... years? Like, a decade? without having any significant interactions with the community (other than the reveals in this episode) just seems so far from anything believable that it's hard to think of them as real people at all.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:38 AM on January 23 [5 favorites]

Agreed, BungaDunga. It's very unlike the behavior of any research scientists at a remote (for varying definitions of "remote") station that I have ever known or heard of. People get tired of seeing the same faces, eating the same food, watching the same videos, &c.

I have big issues with the local skating rink being the only site available to thaw out the corpsicle. Like there isn't some big ol' lockable shed somewhere that is heated/could be heated? Why didn't they thaw them in the cargo bay of the research station? Instead you're going to put a giant pile of biohazard on a random tarp in a major community center- as if that rink doesn't contain the DNA of practically everyone in the town. As if the rink isn't going to be ruined by not being maintained regularly. Ice is applied in multiple thin layers so it stays smooth and even. If melting is uneven because you are thawing out a pile of frozen bodies, you have to start all over from bare concrete.

It's a drag because they've worked very hard on getting the tone right, and lots of other little details. But then they gloss over things that would actually matter in a place like this- ruining the hockey rink in a small town, when you don't see the sun for a couple months, is a big fucking deal.

One tiny detail I was amused by was the clearly AI generated ¯\METAL/¯ poster in the room of a 35+ year old man. So random when they mast have paid big bucks to license "Bury a Friend".
posted by oneirodynia at 12:57 PM on January 23 [14 favorites]

One tiny detail I was amused by was the clearly AI generated ¯\METAL/¯ poster in the room of a 35+ year old man.

Jesus, that is awful.
For those who can't make out the fine print on this "rock poster" this is the text verbatim:

1st LIVE
May 30, 5PM
Countdown Live

2st LIVE
May 31, 7PM
Countdown Live
(Yes, it really says '2st')

If we didn't live in such stupid times I'd almost think there was a clue to the mystery buried in there somewhere.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:07 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]

I can't shake the feeling that this was a totally different pilot that got the True Detective branding slapped on it, which makes me feel bad for the creator because that is both a blessing and a curse.

No, not a full blown pilot that got rebranded. But I'd say you're mostly right Cpt. The Mango. From Polygon:

Night Country is based on a story you were working on before HBO asked you about True Detective, yes? Can you tell us a bit about what you initially wanted to do, and the process of making it a True Detective story?

It was a very raw creature. I had a very bare idea of wanting to create a murder mystery in the ice beyond the Arctic Circle. And [I wanted to show] these communities that we are not used to seeing, in this part of America that is rarely shown in a way that felt like real life — you know, like going to the supermarket and picking up your child from school and having a family fight and doing laundry — but at the same time with the backdrop of this very uncanny landscape, almost sentient.

I was playing with that when I got the call from HBO asking what I would do with True Detective and I thought it was absolutely meant to be. True Detective is all about the place, the environment. The place is a character in itself. And I thought that it was so amazing to be able to do something that felt so different from the bayou in the first one, and Los Angeles in the second one and from the Ozarks in the third one. So, you know, those are three very different sides of America. And then it just came to me that I had this ice story and it was just perfect matching of all the elements and it came together in a breath.
posted by Frayed Knot at 3:40 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]

The expository dialogue is kind of killing me though

very on brand for the franchise.
posted by chavenet at 4:06 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]

Given what Issa Lopez says in that Polygon interview, they are clearly overcompensating for this by bolting on True Detective lore from the past (Cohle, the spiral, straw dolls), but the again, Ennis is where the seams of the fabric of the universe are coming apart, so it's all good.
posted by chavenet at 4:09 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]

It looks like the "2st LIVE" is followed by "Comeback Live" (unlike the "Countdown Live" for the first show). They really are using ai-generated background art, aren't they?
posted by mabelstreet at 9:34 PM on January 23

> "Don't confuse the spirit world with mental health issues," is now on the board for this season's version of "Time is a flat circle." Right next to "corpsicle."

Pushing Daisies didn't coin the term "corpsicle" but they had an episode by that name. The earliest known usage of "corpsicle" in print goes back to 1969 in a science fiction novel called The Age of the Pussyfoot by Frederik Pohl. [Wikipedia]
posted by guiseroom at 1:02 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

Apparently the posters were a deliberate choice, and there's apparently a prior version of the scene where the miner references his kid liking K-pop (which explains the other poster, which is a real band)
posted by FatherDagon at 9:32 AM on January 24

Not sure I really buy that deliberate choice explanation, haha. Pretty sure there are other ways to imply that the life of a resource extraction worker in the vast remoteness of Alaska living for months in total darkness is sad besides a convoluted in-joke about an AI poster lol. And if it is really his kid printing him posters doesn't that seem kind of sweet, not sad..?

I remembered another hilarious line from episode 2, where Jodie is talking to one of her boyfriends and goes "Try it again... in English". Yeah I'd say the dialogue is a bit on the rougher end this season.

Although it has been pretty illuminating to realize that a lot of people who lionize Season 1 don't read Rust as a basically insane guy who thinks he is way smarter than he is, and just straight up think he's a flawless hero..? Crazy. I always thought it was so blatant that the dichotomy was Marty: nice and normal on the outside, deeply unpleasant on the inside; Rust: deeply unpleasant on the outside, nice and normal on the inside.

But again, I wish they'd just let Lopez tell her story without the weight of expectation of the previous seasons of True Detective because there is something really cool here.
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 9:49 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

Yeah, that explanation by the show's creator doesn't really pass the sniff test.

But whatever the case may be, they're not doing themselves (or their show) any favors by responding to every critique and quibble from fans and haters alike on Twitter. I wish film and TV creators didn't feel the need to engage with every Tom-Dick-and-Harry on social media to justify their work (though at this point it's probably baked into their contracts.) It doesn't make for better art.

Fandom should be treated like a cactus—never stroked and only rarely watered.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:20 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]

Yeah the explanation is pretty crap. Is dad supposed to be in on the joke and that's why he hung the poster? Because he doesn't come off as the sort of guy that would hang ugly AI posters to mock his own lifestyle/town.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:07 PM on January 24

Like I wasn't watching this thinking, ah, this miner seems really hip to divisive internet discourse about AI art, and hung up an ironic poster that he was gifted by a local kid above his bed in the dormitory.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:15 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]

True Detective: Night Country showrunner Issa López weighed in on the conversation herself, saying "The story behind that poster is so long, it would require its own season of TD."

I would .... watch that
posted by chavenet at 12:20 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]

But again, I wish they'd just let Lopez tell her story without the weight of expectation of the previous seasons of True Detective because there is something really cool here.

I agree with this- especially since previous seasons of TD weren't all that good in terms of plotting or storyline. Nic P. may have had clever ideas but he couldn't write for shit. I remember being so furious at the lameness that was the final episode of Season 1- everything turned on some freshman psych 101 dropout's stoned dorm room patter? All the internet theories at the time were far cleverer and much more inclusive of so many things we'd seen. Ugh.

I had high hopes for this season, and it's only been two episodes so I'm not giving up yet. But there really are strange oversights among lots of good details. And if anyone is familiar with previous iterations of this show, they know that fans are going to obsessively pore over details. If you're going to hang an AI band poster front and center in a scene, there should be a reason for it that makes sense in the story, not something impenetrable that no one would know if it hadn't come up on twitter. If they had really debated this "ad naseum" as Issa suggests, they came to an inexplicably weak conclusion that seems to have nothing to do with anything. "This town is so sad that for the lolz a kid prints a shitty poster of a fake boomer band in which one of the members has a wrist growing out of their face, and this man is so lame he hangs it up next to the poster of a band his daughter loves" is goofy af. The fact that apparently we as the audience are supposed to discern that from this scene is even goofier. And again it points to a pattern of weird ideas of what goes on in extremely remote small towns. "Design" a wacky poster? Sure. Print it out, 20x30 in full color at the local digital print shop, pay 30 bucks, and give it away for free? Not buying it.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:01 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]

It looks like the "2st LIVE" is followed by "Comeback Live" (unlike the "Countdown Live" for the first show). They really are using ai-generated background art, aren't they?

Not having straight up gibberish on all background text in a scene is a somewhat recent development. It's only since HD television came out 17ish years ago that you had to worry about viewers being to read that the recipe on the kitchen island that only has variations of "1/2 Cup Go Fuck Yourself" in the ingredients list.

Breaking Bad was the first show to get real serious about it back in ~2009 because not only would everyone be able to read the text, the viewers would spend 1000s of hours on the internet analyzing the deep meaning behind what use to be just random garbage Sec Dec would put out there.
posted by Back At It Again At Krispy Kreme at 11:44 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]

Something about this season seems oddly familiar, and I’m thinking it might be because I’ve read one too many remote winter mystery novels and the show is using quite a few of the same tropes. Danvers and Peter Prior’s relationship reminds me of Hazel and Ben’s relationship in The Calling, for instance. Similarly, Danvers showing up to Connelly’s for a quick shag feels very familiar to other novels I’ve read where the surly older lead has a long standing love/hate relationship with another surly older character.
posted by eekernohan at 7:11 AM on January 27

Something about this season seems oddly familiar

For me it's that it's so very overtly referencing -- and in conversation with -- both The Thing and The Silence of the Lambs. Other seasons have felt like more of their own thing; this season feels like it's constantly nudging me in the ribs with "get it? get it? see what I did there?"
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:50 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]

See, here I am enjoying this show immensely because of the characters. I'm invested in everyone's story except, honestly, the corpsicle and even that feels intentional (even after ep 3). The corpsicle is a vessel for our terror not murdered individuals like Annie K.
posted by lydhre at 11:55 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]

There is another potentially huge link to S1 dropped that I haven't seen anyone here mention yet. When Young Cop tells Danvers about the various shell corps etc. behind Tsalal's funding, the ultimate owner was Tuttle Inc (or Holdings, something like that.

As in, Tuttle Ministries, the religious organization at the center of Rust's investigation.

Could be a red herring, or ...
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:38 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]

Could be a red herring, or ...

Quoth Lester Freamon, “All the pieces matter.”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:55 AM on February 29

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