Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Let's talk about True Detective season four.

This weekend I finished up True Detective: Night Country. In this post, I'm going to talk about the five episode season, and in reviewing it, I don't think I can effectively avoid spoilers for it. So here's your spoiler warning.

If you haven't watched any True Detective yet, then the thing that you should know is that it is wildly inconsistent from season to season (season one was great and seasons two and three were terrible). Each season (also) is a tale unto itself with some very minor attempts to tie it all together with recurring imagery. But each season has new actors who don't know any of the other actors, and they are usually immersed into some kind of plot that seems supernatural at first, but that is ultimately explained by the end of the show. However, they take great leaps and bounds with suspension of disbelief.

For example, if there's a one in a million chance that something actually could happen, you get to see that 1 in a million thing in True Detective. And because it is so kind of buy into the idea that something supernatural may be occurring. But by season's end, that balloon has been popped, and you are once again grounded in the reality of what actually happened. Anything supernatural gets explained away by schizo-affective disorder, pollutants that cause hallucinations, severe abuse that causes dementia-like imaginings and etc. And usually there is some utterly corrupt and terrible person(s) behind it all that get exposed for the terrible things that they have done and the manipulations they have initiated.

There is inevitably a character who is so wrapped up in their faith, that they speak of the unknown in terms of vengeful spirits rather than do the hard work to figure out what is happening. There are also plenty of unreliable narrators who are walking vessels of their trauma that they just can't let go. This too makes the deciphering of clues really hard, because they are dealing with their own shit which is probably being triggered by the crime being investigated in the show. Having people like this around the main detectives serves to muddy the waters and provide plenty of opportunities to just say, "ghosts did it" or something like that and call it a day. But the "True Detectives" of the show never fall for this, which is why the show exists. They persistently go after clues and the truth up to the point that it completely endangers their lives.

The "True Detectives" of season four, called "Night Country" stars Jodie Foster as Liz Danvers and Kali Reis as Evangeline Navarro. The story is called "Night Country" because it takes place in a small town named Ennis that experiences more than a month of night every winter, and because the native Americans who live there refer to the ice caves under the permafrost as the "night country" and use these rocks with swirls on them to indicate where the ice is dangerous so that you don't go there and fall through. My favorite of the True Detectives was Jodie Foster's character, Liz Danvers. And this is simply because she was the more reliable narrator of the two.

The other one, Kali Reis (Evangeline Navarro), was a walking bag of trauma both from the unsolved murder of a native American girl (stabbed 37 times and having her tongue cut out) and from her deeply disturbed sister who commits suicide halfway through the show by walking into the freezing ocean (she had obvious schizo-affective disorder among other things). Additionally, Evangeline was unreliable because she was "deeply spiritual" and felt a "connection" to the land and the spirit guides and so on and so forth. Whatever. The point of all this was that she became deeply unreliable in the episodes because every time the story was told from her point of view, she saw things that simply couldn't be there or made no sense that they were there at all. Yet, as a viewer of the show, you have no choice but to buy into the "there's something supernatural going on here" narrative. Ultimately, she's a good person, but still it's aggravating to try and suss out all of these things on your own when so many things you are shown aren't real.

There are also clearly scripted plot points that stand out to me as a writer. They probably wouldn't be so obvious if I wasn't familiar with the fact that to tell a story, you need to kind of loop things back around again. One of these is that Danver's invites Prior (a character played by a Finn Bennett that I really liked) to stay over in her freezing shed purely so that he can be there for when his dad shoots his gun. It also makes me realize that his wife was there purely for plot point reasons. She needed to get upset at Prior to drive him out of the house so that he'd move in with his dad and find that to be toxic so that he would end up staying with Danvers. It seems really contrived, and I don't like when I can see behind the curtain so easily.

Anyway, that's my analysis of season 4 of True Detective. Overall, I did like it, but I don't think I'd rewatch it. Once is enough. So...maybe 3 stars out of 5. Thanks for visiting.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't seen any of these, and it sounds like I should probably continue to skip it. Thanks for your thoughts.