True Detective

Jodie Foster and Kali Reis make an uncomfortably good crime-busting duo in an icy new take on hit anthology series.

It’s been 5 years since the third season of anthology series True Detective from HBO.

In that time creator Nic Pizzolatto has handed over the creative lead to Mexican writer / director Issa Lopez (Tigers Are Not Afraid), though he remains an executive producer.

True Detective: Night Country, moves to a female-driven project with Jodie Foster and Kali Reis in the lead roles, and shifts from the warmer backdrops of Louisiana, California and the Ozarks, to the colder climate of Alaska.

It’s also far more linear than previous seasons, which were heavy in flashback. Rest assured, these are all changes for the better after some uneven seasons (I could not get through S2 with Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn).

Jodie Foster plays Detective Liz Danvers in the icy outpost of Ennis, where eight men who operate the Tsalal Arctic Research Station vanish without a trace -there are even shades of a horror genre in this bold premise.

“It’s like they went to take a leak and never came back…”

Ennis has also entered its long winter, of days-long darkness serving as the opposite of crime dramas such as Insomnia.

But Danvers has history with Det. Evangeline Navarro (Reis), an Iñupiaq woman who navigates her ties to her indigenous community and the US law, at a time when there are protests over the loss of land and cultural connection.

Navarro also carries the unsolved death of a Native activist, Annie -whose tongue is mysteriously found at the research facility now devoid of its 8 scientists.

This will bring Danvers and Navarro uncomfortably together to try and solve both cases.

“You think I want to work with you…. take a look in the mirror Liz. No-one can stand you,” says Navarro. Ouch.

Caught in between is young cop Pete (Finn Bennett), trying to forge an honest career while his father Hank (John Hawkes) is, well, the polar opposite. Hank is getting himself a mail-order bride from Russia when he isn’t throwing out the policing rule book in his town.

Also featuring is Fiona Shaw as Ennis resident Rose, who sees ghosts and makes a startling local discovery, plus Anchorage police captain Ted (Christopher Eccleston) who has unexpected history with Liz.

It wouldn’t be True Detective without a slow-burn style, shocks and a touch of the spirit world. Issa Lopez brings all of that to play, but the changes are so stark to previous seasons that Night Country feels like its own very confident beast.

Jodie Foster, in her first series lead role since 1975, brings gravitas and excitement to her role as Danvers, raising a Native step-daughter whilst upholding the rule of law. Boxer-turned-actor Kali Reis is still new to performing but holds her own as the strong, silent Navarro. True Detective will surely put her on the map.

Season 4 is chilly, claustrophobic and sometimes terrifying, but a welcome return to form.

True Detective: Night Country 8:30pm Monday January 15 on Showcase / Binge.

4 Responses

  1. I’m seeing there’s a lot of prehistoric troglodytes bombing review sites of this simply because they can’t tolerate another show with a strong female lead but I thought this was a strong start. Having just completed the absolutely outstanding most recent season of Fargo, True Detective flowed very well as the next show to look forward to weekly. Looking forward to seeing how it goes.

  2. Pizzolatto, Harrelson and McConaughey all have EP credits for every episode, including S4. They were negotiating from a strong position back in 2014 obviously. The only connection is the quote which is from Chambers as were elisions to the secret society and Yellow King in S1. S4 is pretty much Scandi-noir, which copied US procedural and added tough females who battles lots of stuff, and plenty of social issues. Here only one jumper and it looked Irish. So we have an awful lot of cop cliches including 2 tough cops with a federal/state rivalry, who hate each other, both have troublesome wards plus there’s sex tapes, heredity mental illness as a curse, and a collection of wife beaters and drunk drivers to ruff up. Actual mystery People hearing “She’s Awake”, 8 bodies in ice and a tongue (probably planted) from a murder 8 years ago. And they used Billy Eilish and The Unthanks version of Magpie (from The Detectorists).

  3. Rest assured David you weren’t the only one to bail out of S2. From memory I gave up during ep3. A massive disappointment after the brilliance of S1. S3 was much, much better and restored my faith somewhat. This new season sounds promising. Jodie Foster’s involvement certainly a positive.

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