A decade after the Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey-led “True Detective” grew a worldwide following, the latest installment of the HBO anthology series is paying homage to its roots.
Created, written and directed by Issa López, “True Detective: Night Country” follows a new detective duo in Jodie Foster’s Liz Danvers and Kali Reis’ Evangeline Navarro, who work through their resentment of one another to investigate the disappearance of several men working at the Tsalal Arctic Research Station in small town Ennis, Alaska.
“True Detective” Season 1 fans’ ears likely perked up at the mention of Alaska — where McConaughey’s Rust Cohle grew up — the first in a plethora of Easter Eggs hidden within Season 4.
Keep on reading for all the references back to Season 1 you might have missed. This list will be updated with more Easter Eggs as new episodes drop.
The Yellow King
The first episode of “True Detective: Night Country” opens with an epigraph that reads “…For we do not know what beasts the night dreams when its hours grow too long for even God to be awake.” The passage is attributed to Hildred Castaigne, the main character of a short story from Robert W. Chambers’ collection titled “The King in Yellow,” which played a major role in Nic Pizzolatto’s inspiration for the Yellow King in Season 1.
Lone Star Beer
As Danvers and her team investigate the abandoned Tsalal Arctic Research Station in Episode 1, they come across a bowl of popcorn paired with a Lone Star beer bottle — same brand of Texas-brewed beer as the dozens of cans consumed by Season’s 1 Rust Cohle at the police station.
As Danvers arranges dozens of photos from both the workers’ disappearance and Annie K.’s brutal murder, viewers get a hint of a spiral, bringing “True Detective” fans back to Season 1’s spiral motif.
Spirals continue in Episode 2 when Danvers gets a closer look at the men frozen in ice and spots a spiral on one of the men’s foreheads — the first solid sign that spirals might be integral to the case. More spirals follow as Navarro and Danvers discovers the van used for rendezvous between Raymond Clark and Annie K.
Also in the van Danvers comes across several twig figures, which bear a striking resemblance to those in Season 1, as well as straw dolls found in Season 3.
While die-hard “True Detective” fans already suspected ties between Rust’s Alaska upbringing and the fourth season, a larger connection is confirmed in Episode 2.
The end of the premiere episode sees Ennis community member Rose Aguineau (Fiona Shaw) following a vision of her late husband, Travis, to the ice as he points her in the direction of the research workers Danvers was looking for. Rose alerts the officials, and Navarro pays her a visit in Episode 2 as the pair unpack Travis’ message.
It’s revealed that Travis, who had been suffering from leukemia, opted to die in the icy cold rather than let the disease “take him.” Navarro then found him dead, leading to a close relationship between Navarro and Rose. “One last gift from Travis Cohle, I got to meet you,” Rose tells Navarro, seemingly revealing that her late husband was Rust’s father.
The reveal also corroborates the story Rust tells police officials in Season 1 as he explained he took a hiatus from the case to visit his father in Alaska, who was suffering from leukemia. With no record of his father being sick, officials in Season 1 wrote off his shady explanation — which seemed to cover his undercover reentry as he attempted to infiltrate a motorcycle gang called the Iron Crusaders — as proof of his guilt.
The Tuttle Family
After Danvers instructs junior officer Peter Prior to look into the funding for the research center, Peter reveals in Episode 2 that Tsalal is funded by an NGO, which traces back to NC Global Strategies, which is owned by Tuttle United. Tuttle, of course, is the name of the family at the center of Season 1’s pedophilic cult.
“Ask the Right Question”
Danvers’ go-t0 saying comes out as she and Peter make their first stab at unpacking the death of the workers. With each wrong turn, Danvers tells Peter to “ask the right question” to get at the core of the mystery — mirroring a line spoken by Rust in Season 1 as he tells detectives Thomas and Maynard to ask the “right f–king questions” about the cold case.
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