‘True Detective’ Season 4, Episode 2 Recap — We Should Work Together


Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for True Detective: Night Country Episode 2.

The Big Picture

  • The Dyatlov Pass incident serves as a key influence for True Detective: Night Country, creating terrifying and fresh imagery that continues to captivate audiences.
  • The connections between the past and present in Ennis intensify, with tensions surrounding the mines and the effects of environmental damage becoming prominent.
  • While the episode falls into some predictable detective tropes, the mystery deepens, performances impress, and the promise of supernatural elements keeps viewers engaged.

In 1959, a group of nine Soviet hikers were found in the Ural Mountains frozen to death, having left their campsite behind in a rush, storming through tents as if they didn’t exist. The bodies were severely injured and partially naked, a result of extreme hypothermia, which is capable of deceiving humans, making us believe that we are actually extremely hot. For decades, the event that became known as the Dyatlov Pass incident puzzled authorities, researchers, and conspiracy theorists alike: what had forced those men and women to flee their campsite in such despair on that fateful night? Was it a bear? A yeti? Had one of them turned into a crazed killer? Nowadays, many – at least among those whose opinions we should take into consideration – seem to believe that an avalanche was responsible for the deaths of the Soviet hikers. Still, the Dyatlov Pass story continues to fuel the imagination of creators worldwide. In 2024, for instance, it seems to be one of the chief influences of Issa López’s True Detective: Night Country.

Much like The Thing, the Dyatlov Pass incident has a lot in common with what happens to the men in the Tsalal research station in the first two episodes of the show. But while the John Carpenter movie informs the events that take place inside the facility and the overall vibe of the series, the historical mystery is evoked by what happens once the bodies of the station’s staff are found. The references appear as two great nods to people familiar with either the classic horror film or the bizarre real-life case (or both), creating a series of images that still feel fresh and, of course, terrifying. Frozen into a clump, the Tsalal men present bizarre injuries, caused by both the freezing cold and by attempts at chewing their own hands off, and are completely naked. Their clothes, unlike those of the Soviet hikers, are neatly folded in a corner. However, shoes and coats seem to have gone missing: they have left the lab completely ill-equipped for the icy wilderness. What has caused them to do so? That is the right question.

True Detective

Anthology series in which police investigations unearth the personal and professional secrets of those involved, both within and outside the law.

Release Date
January 12, 2014

Nic Pizzolatto

Main Genre



Streaming Service(s)

‘True Detective: Night Country’ Episode 2 Kicks Off with a Bizarre Crime Scene

In this bizarre crime scene, Detective Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) finds two even more creepy things. It is only through the character’s field experience, evident in Foster’s level-headed performance, that she’s able to hold herself together in the face of it all. The first of them is a survivor screaming for his own life. In the horrifying mishmash of bodies, expertly shot to show us every little gory detail in a way that invites us to keep looking instead of averting the eye, Lund (Þorsteinn Bachmann) remains alive. It’s a chilling moment in which we first hear the scream, a perfect summary of what we have seen on screen so far, only to then learn where it is coming from.

The second thing Danvers finds is a symbol drawn on a man’s head, a symbol that she has seen before — more specifically, tattooed on the back of Annie Kowtok (Nivi Pedersen), an environmental activist who was killed years prior while she was in the middle of protesting the mining activity in the town of Ennis. The symbol — a simple, hand-drawn spiral — also draws the attention of Trooper Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis, in a performance that matches Foster’s in its coolness), and the two set off on their own investigations to figure out what it means.

Over the course of the episode, True Detective: Night Country weaves a tight-knit web carefully connecting the past and the present. Little by little, we find out that Tsalal’s chief, Raymond Clark (Owen McDonnell) — who, by the way, was not among the dead bodies — had a tattoo similar to the one sported by Annie on his chest. More than that, he had it done in the aftermath of Annie’s death and even used a picture of the two of them together for reference. By the time Danvers and Navarro decide to work together on the case, it has already become clear to viewers that Annie and Clark had a more than friendly relationship.

Upon learning of this secret affair, Danvers and Navarro head to the trailer Clark bought for their encounters, only to find it decorated by animal bones and ragdolls. It’s a distressing moment, as once again written on the faces of Reis and Foster. On the bed, a giant doll simulating a woman’s body is surrounded by pictures of Annie. Add to that the bizarre scribbles of “she’s alive” and “never sleep” on Clark’s notebook, plus the fact that forensics did confirm that the tongue found in the research facility was Annie’s, and you have a mystery that crosses generations. It’s an interesting development that adds to the one that was presented to us in Episode 1, making the plot one that might point in any direction — and thus delighting us with the constant suspense.

Frequent remarks about how the veil that separates the worlds of the living and the dead is thin in Ennis may indicate a future supernatural investigation. Meanwhile, tensions surrounding the mine run high in the town, and the explanation that the Tsalal scientists were doing research on an extinct microorganism that might prevent cellular decay is not enough to put them out of harm’s way. There is still the matter of who runs the station and what is their final goal.

‘True Detective: Night Country’ Episode 2 Explores the Various Tensions in Ennis

Perhaps the investigation will lead us to a path that is both mundane and supernatural at the same time. After all, the dead that roam the city seem to have been deeply affected by the sadly ordinary environmental damage caused by the local mines. Cancer seems to be endemic in the region, having killed both Travis (Erling Eliasson) and Wallis’ (Darren Foreman) cousin, and the heavily polluted water is sure to claim more lives in the near future. Through scenes that show us the characters of True Detective: Night Country talking about their encounters with ghosts and a bar fight between miners and people affected by their work, the show gives us a swift, but pretty good look at what life is like for the people of Ennis, focusing on what torments them and what makes them tick.

In this sense, another scene that stands out is the one in which Danvers picks up her stepdaughter, Leah (Isabella LaBlanc), from Pete Prior’s (Finn Bennett) house and finds her trying out Inupiaq body art on her face. Though the art is temporary, having been done with a marker, it is the breaking point for a fight between Danvers and Pete’s wife and mother-in-law in which she equates being an Inupiaq woman with having a poor-paying job. It seems that Danvers isn’t very happy with Leah trying to reconnect with her heritage. More than that, it seems that Danvers is, well, kind of a racist, which lends a bit more weight to Navarro’s accusations that she only cares about the Tsalal case because the victims are white men.

With all of that in mind, though, it remains hard to understand the roles that the personal lives of Danvers and Navarro play in the overarching plot, particularly Navarro’s. Danvers has her whole thing with Leah, but Navarro’s story with her sister, Julia (Aka Niviâna), seems a bit disconnected from the rest of the series. For a moment there, we are under the impression that they are going to draw a parallel between Ennis’ relationship with ghosts and the voices that speak to her, but Rose Aguineau (Fiona Shaw) makes it clear that we shouldn’t confuse the supernatural with mental illness. Perhaps López is trying to say something about all of us being haunted by the past? It would make sense, considering Leah’s chat with Pete about who their parents used to be and who they are now, but, so far, there’s nothing really palpable there.

‘True Detective: Night Country’ Episode 2 Falls Into Genre-Mandatory Tropes

Image via HBO

Another big flaw of True Detective: Night Country Episode 2 is how it lets itself fall into the classic police pissing contest trope. Not a lot, but way too much of this episode is devoted to Danvers fighting for jurisdiction over the Tsalal case with either Navarro or the regional chief of police, Ted Connelly (Christopher Eccleston). Eccleston is great in the role. So good, in fact, that it’s actually hard to recognize him — not because he’s bad in other roles, mind you, but because he wears Connelly’s (extremely American) skin like it’s his own. However, so far, he seems to be there just for the mandatory “I’m taking the case away from you!” drama that pops up in every other detective story. Well, that and to have an ill-fated romantic scene with Danvers.

Even more grating to watch are the disputes between Danvers and Navarro. By the end of the previous episode, it already seemed like the two had come to the conclusion that they would have to work together. So to see them bicker over who should be investigating what all over again is just irritating. Thankfully, they sort it out by the end of this episode. Let’s hope the show doesn’t take us back to square one next week.

But this oddly misplaced debacle isn’t enough to take away from the mystery that is building up in True Detective: Night Country. Clues are still not enough for Danvers, Navarro, and Prior to put together a decent picture. Not even the footage of Clark saying “She’s awake” and the statements of service providers that saw him behaving strangely before all hell broke loose are enough to explain anything. Now, Danvers only managed to keep the bodies in Ennis due to a technicality: Connelly must wait for them to thaw, which will take about 48 hours. This seems like a case that will take a lot longer than two days to crack. So, sadly, we’ll probably have to see Danvers fighting for her right to work on it all over again in a couple of episodes. At least the creepiness isn’t dying down.

A poster for True Detective: Night Country.

True Detective

After a strong opener, the show falls into some boring tropes that, thankfully, aren’t enough to dampen the mystery.


  • The new episode adds to the mystery introduced in Part 1.
  • Performances continue to be top-notch.
  • The promise of the supernatural keeps us glued to our seats.

  • The episode falls into some boring detective tropes.
  • There seems to be a disconnect between the characters’ personal lives and the overarching plot.

True Detective: Night Country Episode 2 is available to stream on Max in the U.S.

Watch on Max


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