The Big Picture
- True Detective: Night Country Episode 3 reveals that Danvers and Navarro covered up a murder-suicide, but the truth is darker.
- Similar to Season 1, the two detectives lied about a murder they committed in a case.
- It’s unclear who actually shot Wheeler, but Navarro’s reaction suggests it may have been her and Danvers kept quiet about it.
This week’s episode of True Detective: Night Country is a spooky one. In “Part 3,” Chief Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) and Trooper Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) have to face more than scary visions and an unsolvable case, as their relationship takes center stage this time. Right at the beginning, Officer Pete Prior (Finn Bennett) asks Danvers what happened in the last case she and Navarro worked together, which we know is what drove a wedge between them and made them pretty much hate each other. Danvers hesitates to answer Prior’s question but tells him about the Wheeler case. As she recalls the incident, though, the audience sees a flashback of what happened comes up. The only issue is that what she tells him doesn’t match what is shown onscreen.
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)
What Was the Wheeler Case About?
Danvers describes the case as a murder-suicide. The subject is William Wheeler (Kasper Leisner), a man who was arrested several times for a variety of crimes — sexual assault, armed robbery, and assault and battery. The last time he was released from prison, he started dating an 18-year-old girl. Wheeler started to beat her and even sent her to the hospital twice with a broken arm, a smashed jaw, and other serious bruises. Whenever Danvers and Navarro were called up to their house, Wheeler’s girlfriend would refuse to report him. Wheeler would come up with unconvincing stories, like “she was drunk,” or “she fell down the stairs.” It was clear that Wheeler was guilty of the assault, but since she never actually reported him to the authorities, there was nothing the police could do.
Unfortunately, one day, Danvers and Navarro were called up to Wheeler’s house, but they arrived too late. This is when Danvers’ story to Pete starts to deviate from the flashback. She says that, when they arrived, Wheeler had shot his girlfriend and then shot himself, with both people dead by the time Danvers and Navarro got there. But the flashback shows the two cops arriving and finding Wheeler sitting in his house, staring at his dead girlfriend. When he notices that Danvers and Navarro are there, he starts to whistle and smiles maliciously. Danvers looks at him, distraught, but Navarro looks angry. It’s heavily implied that one of them shot Wheeler at point-blank, even though he didn’t pose an immediate danger at that moment.
Danvers says that Navarro couldn’t get over what happened and was convinced there was something she and Danvers should have done to protect Wheeler’s girlfriend. She also says that Navarro blamed her for everything and that things got nasty between them, to the point where Danvers had Navarro transferred to the state troopers so they wouldn’t have to work together anymore.
Danvers’ Description of the Wheeler Case Is a Reference to ‘True Detective’ Season 1
What Danvers told Pete is probably the official version of how things went down with Wheeler — it would be easy enough for anyone to confirm by checking the archives and files of the police, after all. But it also covers up a darker truth. Either Danvers or Navarro shot Wheeler, and they both made it look like it was a murder-suicide, so neither of them got punished. This obviously was not the lawful thing to do and it makes sense why it would drive the two people apart, but it’s actually not the first time something like this has happened in True Detective.
In Season 1, detectives Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) are investigating a series of murders connected to a cult in Louisiana, and the information they have gathered eventually leads them to the house of Dewall (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) and Reggie Ledoux (Charles Halford). The two detectives quickly find the suspects, however, once Marty finds two children being kept prisoners in a shed next to the Ledoux house, he shoots Reggie in a fit of rage. The clean arrest the detectives were hoping to make is now ruined, so they cover everything up by making the crime scene look like a firefight took place. Rust, who’s supposed to be on personal leave visiting his father in Alaska, even shoots the whole place with a machine gun.
Once backup arrives, Rust and Marty are hailed as heroes for rescuing the two kids. The case of Dora Lange’s (Amanda Rose Batz) gruesome murder is closed and considered solved, with the two Ledoux relatives considered guilty. After that, Rust and Marty go on to enjoy successful careers for seven years, until, in 2002, Rust learns new information about the Yellow King and quits the force after a fight with Marty.
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Who Really Killed William Wheeler?
The Wheeler case is different from the Ledoux one, but the protagonists covering up a murder they are responsible for is almost a True Detective trope at this point. While Rust and Marty strengthened their bond based on a lie in Season 1, Danvers and Navarro couldn’t stand to work together anymore in Night Country. But there’s more to their story with William Wheeler than the episode’s flashback shows.
While in Season 1 it’s clear that Marty is the one who shoots Ledoux (we even see it happening), in Night Country it’s not clear who shoots Ledoux. While Danvers looks shaken by the scene they encounter upon arriving, Navarro is angry, which are both reasonable reactions to finding a violent psychopath maliciously whistling over his dead girlfriend’s body. The only lead Danvers gives about what really happened in the Wheeler case is when she says that “Navarro couldn’t get over it.” This line makes it seem like it was Navarro who shot Wheeler.
Navaroo has a traumatic history with violence against women, and she always talks about protecting the women in her life, which could be a lingering effect of the violence her family endured at the hands of her father. Or it might mean that Navarro couldn’t get over having to cover Wheeler’s murder and having to lie about something Danvers did. It remains uncertain, at this time, who is to blame for Wheeler’s death but it resulted in the separation of Danvers and Navarro’s partnership.
True Detective is available to stream on Max in the U.S., with new episodes of Night Country premiering every Sunday.
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