SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses plot points from Episode 3 of “True Detective: Night Country,” titled “Part 3.”
In the second episode of “True Detective: Night Country,” Rose (Fiona Shaw), the Ennis resident who led the police to the corpsicle of scientists, warns Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) about getting involved with the investigation. She says, “Maybe leave this one for someone else, Missy.” Unfortunately, Navarro did not heed Rose’s advice. Drawn to the case and determined to connect it with a six-year-old cold case, the death of Indigenous midwife and activist Annie Kowtok, Navarro has thrust herself headfirst into the inquest, even teaming back up with her arch nemesis, Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster), Ennis’ chief of police.
On the surface, the mystery standing at the center of “True Detective: Night Country” is the eight men who vanished from the local arctic research station in the fictional mining town of Ennis, Alaska. Annie Kowtok’s tongue was left behind at the station, somehow perfectly preserved in the six years since her murder. In Episode 2, the audience learns that Annie had been carrying on a secret affair with one of the scientists, Raymond Clark (Owen McDonnell), the only man who wasn’t found among the pile of his frozen colleagues.
However, Episode 3 has proven that we have yet to scratch the surface of this mystery. Part 3 untangles some of the tension from Liz and Navarro’s pasts, while unveiling a spiritual element of this case that seems directly connected to Ennis’ history and Navarro’s family lineage.
Some answers and more questions from Episode 3:
The third chapter of “True Detective: Night Country” opens in the past. Navarro goes to arrest Annie for trespassing in the mine. On her quest, she walks into a birthing center for Indigenous women, disrupting a birth. It’s a harrowing experience for Navarro, mainly because it takes some time for Annie to get the newborn baby breathing. However, it expands the viewer’s awareness of Annie’s work. The mine and its conditions are wreaking havoc on Ennis’ Indigenous population: Many residents have black water coming through their pipes, and there is an increasing number of stillbirths among the women.
In the present, on the fifth day of night, Capt. Hank Prior (John Hawkes), who has already displayed his violent nature, has gone rogue. He’s placed himself in charge of the police task force searching for Clark, the missing scientist. However, in typical Hank fashion, he’s recruited his red-neck gun-slinging civilian friends for a full-blown manhunt.
Meanwhile, Navarro may be skilled at hiding things about herself, but Liz is just a liar. When Hank’s son, police officer Peter Prior (Finn Bennett), questions the tension between her and Navarro, Liz tells him about the last case they worked on together before Navarro was forced to transfer to the troopers. It was a murder/suicide, and Liz tells Peter that both the victim and the perpetrator, who had a history of domestic violence, were dead when she and Navarro arrived on the scene. However, a flashback proves that’s a lie. Why is Liz committed to this false narrative, and what actually happened to fracture her and Navarro’s working relationship? Later in the episode, Peter asks his father about Navarro and Liz, but Hank deflects.
Forced to work together on this case, the ragtag law enforcement team learns more about Annie and Clark’s relationship from Susan, a local hairstylist who explains that she introduced the pair. Susan explains that Annie was determined to keep the relationship a secret, but she’s unsure why. We also learn that the swirl symbol Annie and Clark sported as tattoos, the same one found on one of the frozen scientists’ foreheads, is a symbol that Annie began dreaming about as a teen.
From her interrogation of Susan, Navarro learns two critical things. First, Hank has always known about Annie and Clark’s relationship, but his misogyny and racism prevented him from reporting it. Second, someone else at the science station Tsalal knew about Annie and Clark. Susan reveals that she dated the equipment engineer, Oliver Tagaq, but he vanished right before Annie’s death. (He is also likely the father of Susan’s young daughter.)
During this episode, more of Navarro’s past comes to light. Her mother, who we’ve seen previously in flashbacks, dealt with a mental illness similar to her sister, Jules’ (Aka Niviâna). Born and raised in Ennis, Navarro’s mother moved to Boston at 15 and got caught up with Navarro’s abusive/alcoholic father. Though she eventually escaped the relationship, fleeing back to Ennis with her girls, she was later killed. Like Annie, the case was never solved. Was her mother’s murder the reason Navarro became a cop?
It’s important to note that there is a lot of racial tension in Ennis. Hank is openly hostile toward the Indigenous population, and Liz is furious that her stepdaughter Leah (Isabella Star LaBlanc) is honoring her culture with a temporary face tattoo. In this episode, Liz forces Leah to scrub it off. It’s a puzzling overreaction, especially coming from a white woman. Is it because this is the same face tattoo that Annie had?
One of the biggest obstacles with this case for Liz and her team has been that they don’t have the resources to dig deeper. Though they wanted to fly in a forensic expert, a snowstorm forced Peter to ask his veterinarian cousin to examine the corpsicle instead. The vet determines that the men died before they froze and that they likely died of cardiac arrests brought on by sheer terror.
Navarro and Liz eventually track down former equipment engineer Oliver Tagaq, who lives in a nomad camp. They tell him that all of the scientists he worked with are dead. He is shocked and disturbed by this news, but he also specifically asks about Anders Lund (Þorsteinn Bachmann), the director and founder of the Tsalal research station by name. Why?
Lund is the sole surviving scientist, aside from Clark. Found among the corpsicle, Lund has been in a medically induced coma after dealing with multiple amputations, gangrene and the loss of his eyesight. In this episode, Liz and Navarro visit him in the hospital. In between his hellish screams, he tells them. “We woke her, and now she’s out there on the ice. She came for us in the dark.”
Since the first episode, there have been whispers that “She is awake.” But who is she?
What he says next is a warning specifically for Navarro.
Though it’s not clear how it all connects just yet, “True Detective: Night Country” Part 3 has shown that all of this mystery, magic and terror is directly related to Navarro in some way. At the beginning of the episode, she tells Liz that she often thinks of disappearing, just going. Could this be some foreshadowing?
When she speaks to her lover, Ennis’ bar/diner owner, Eddie Qavvik (Joel D. Montgrand), Navarro explains that her mother never gave her an Indigenous name before she vanished. This loss of connection still pains her, especially after speaking to Oliver, who tells her she’s forgotten who she is. In addition to details about her mother, after falling on the ice, Navarro sees a vision of a child dressed in pajamas and clutching a stuffed polar bear. It’s a version of the one-eyed polar bear she’s seen in town and the same stuffed bear Liz had tucked away in a box in her home. Moreover, during this episode, Navarro’s sister Jules has an outburst at work where she begins screaming and saying, “Someone is coming.” Who could this someone be? Is it the same “she” that the scientists woke up?
All of this brings us to the final scenes of the episode. When Lund tells Liz and Navarro, “We woke her up,” Navarro is visibly disturbed. She clearly knows something we don’t. What does Navarro know? Later, when Liz runs out of Lund’s room to deal with chaos in the hospital waiting area, a sedated Lund sits up from his bed, pointing and speaking directly to Navarro. He says, “Hello, Evangeline, your mother is waiting for you. She says, ‘Hello.’” After issuing the warning, Lund lays back down and seemingly dies.
In the final scene from Part 3, having hacked into Annie’s cellphone, which was found in Clark’s trailer, Navarro and Liz watch a video of Annie in what appears to be an ice cave. In the video, she whispers, “I found it. If anything happens to me…” Annie emits a blood-curdling scream before she can finish her sentence, effectively ending the episode.
What did Annie see? And what terrified her so much that she began screaming into the night? Also, if she was taken and killed just after this video, how did the phone get back to Clark’s trailer? Did Clark kill Annie?
More than that, why is everyone so afraid?