True Detective: Night Country (Season 4 Finale), Episode 6: Here’s the windup and the pitch—making a show is hard. Writing a murder mystery and making a narrative that answers all the pertinent questions very much depends on the transaction between the viewer and the creator of the story in understanding which questions are deemed pertinent. More often than not, what the creator is ultimately planning to explore with a show is completely antithetical to what a viewer would actually want with the show’s denouement.

“True Detective: Night Country” is one of those shows that again misses the frequency to tune with the viewers, thus landing in the numerous heap of television shows that mostly somehow fail to completely connect. It’s not an entirely unsatisfactory watch as a finale, but as an overall story, “Night Country” definitely felt like a show teasing the incidentals far more than the essentials. The one thing the show does get right is the casting, which has been spot-on. Even within the cracks in the screenplay supposed to be filled by character development, the performances, especially by Kali Reis as Navarro and Jodi Foster as Danvers, hold the show together, with standout Finn Bennett as Pete Prior holding up the supporting end.

True Detective: Night Country (Season 4 Finale), Episode 6 ‘Part 6’ Recap: 

What do Danvers and Navarro find in the ice caves?

The one thing you can’t fault with the finale is waiting around for any event to happen. No, the episode immediately begins with Navarro chipping into the ice and breaking open the entrance to the “Night Country,” or the ice caves. Once inside, both Danvers and Navarro seem to hear voices, which derail them from the straight path, leading to them falling straight through the floor to another layer within the ice caves. Navarro does manage to locate Clark for a millisecond before he disappears. Both Danvers and Navarro ultimately follow the voices, which might have been caused by the low-energy hum present due to a makeshift lab in one of those caves, obtaining icy slabs that presumably contained the permafrosts that the Tsalal scientists had been experimenting on.

The second discovery is the star-shaped weapon that caused the 30-odd stab wounds on Annie K, which was revealed to be a screwdriver-type instrument in the lab. But the big discovery was a ladder that Clark had taken as a route to escape. Danvers and Navarro climb up the ladder and open the hatch only to find that they have come up to the kitchen area in the Tsalal research station; all this while, a blizzard is enveloping Ennis, Alaska, on the 31st of December.

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The investigators search for the mysterious Clark. Danvers manages to walk into a walk-in freezer, where she is locked in by Clark. As she screams for help from Navarro, Clark sneaks up on her and hits her on the head with a fire hydrant. While Clark begins to drag the unconscious Navarro, Danvers takes one of the steel handles on the locked door and uses it to bash on the glass door until it breaks. She manages to break out and rush towards the screams to find a conscious Navarro beating Clark black and blue. Danvers barely drags her away, reminding her that they need him to talk.

How did Annie K die?

The result is an interrogation scene where Danvers and Navarro strap Clark on a chair and presumably “waterboard” him with the voice of Annie playing on Navarro’s phone, the headphones strapped with tape wrapped around Clark’s head and his mouth to stop him from screaming. It’s baffling that amidst the myriad of questions that Navarro could have asked, she chose to ask whether Clark loved Annie K, presumably to incite the method of torture. Finally loosening him (after having coffee and Funyuns, weirdly enough), Danvers and Navarro don’t have to wait too long for Clark to reveal the innards.

As it turns out, Clark had been negligent in keeping his notes safe, and Annie had discovered what Tsalal had been really after. As it turns out, Tsalal Research Station needed Silver Sky Mining to produce more pollutants because the resultant heat produced due to the activity of the mining sites would be enough to thaw the permafrost containing the magic DNA that could be the answer to some of the unresolved problems of the universe (curing cancer). Annie had been searching for a paper trail that would connect the station and the mining company but instead finds the makeshift facility below the hatch, which she chooses to destroy in rage, thus obliterating numerous permafrosts and years of scientific experiments. 

As it turns out, that leads to the scientists at the Tsalal station being in a fit of rage, which leads to Lund stabbing Annie with that star-shaped drill, with the others following suit, while Clark cries out in horror. Danvers and Navarro don’t believe that Clark could only stay subservient and silent because he “loved her and would never hurt her,”  and as shown in “Night Country,” the actual events of what happened are very different from what is recounted. We see Clark wracked with grief before suddenly realizing that Annie is still alive and then choking her to death. 

So, who left her tongue on the crime scene? Clark doesn’t know that, theorizing that it might have been done later when the body had been moved. But Clark also couldn’t explain what had happened to his colleagues that night. He still believes that the vengeful spirit of Annie had haunted them and had been responsible for killing his colleagues and transforming them into corpses. His only proof of any such event is the noises he listened to as his colleagues were presumably killed while he hid under the hatch ladder, his hands holding the hatch for days or weeks, of which he was unaware.

The only time one of the workers had noticed him was because he had been hungry and had to come up for food. He had searched for Otis Heiss because of his theory that Annie’s spirit, which had existed before him, would exist long after he would be gone, as “time is a flat circle” (“True Detective” Season 1 reference, for kicks, I presume because it never comes up again).

What is Pete Prior doing?

Meanwhile, the third detective (for all intents and purposes) cleans up the bloody shed, packs the bodies of the dead Otis Heiss and his father, and loads them up on his trunk before showering himself off the blood. He also manages to smoothly lie to Leah, who had presumably come up to patch things up with her stepmother, but immediately realizes by Prior’s skittishness that something is amiss and that he is bothered by his strained relationship with Kayla. It would help if he dropped Leah back at Kayla’s place. Kayla finally has a confrontation with Prior, where Peter asks Kayla to let him do this one last job before he is back to her whole. It’s almost as if Peter is acknowledging that, more than Danvers, it was his father who was pulling him back. As Pete finally drives up to Rose’s place, the power in Ennis fails.  

At Rose’s place, after insisting she take him to the spot where “Julia died,”  we see the two of them at the same spot by the thin ice. Rose stabs through the dead bodies to let the air out so that the bodies would sink before ordering Prior to dropping the bodies in the lake himself. It is poetic in its own messed-up fashion—a son cleaning up his own mess and his father’s mess.

A still from True Detective: Night Country (Season 4 Finale), Episode 6.
A still from “True Detective: Night Country” (Season 4 Finale), Episode 6.

What do the visions ultimately mean?

This is also the episode where recurring visions throughout the previous five episodes would be repeated here, and each character’s visions would be explained (somewhat), and characters would be given closure (again somewhat). A mango would roll out of the refrigerator as Navarro tried to eat some snacks; the mango would be peeled in the shape of a spiral and left on the desk by Danvers. Broken glasses under Danvers’ feet would remind her of Holden’s car accident. The crucifix Navarro had thrown out of her window in Episode 2 would find itself interlocked in Danvers’s hair as she tries to sleep in her room.

Again, what it means is very much dependent on each character’s interpretation of the existence of the supernatural. For Navarro, she is slowly realizing that a higher power might exist and that there is something beyond just “this.” For Danvers, it’s living with the losses and being haunted by them, yet understanding that there is a certain randomness that can’t be actually explained. 

When Danvers suddenly wakes up in the room she had chosen to sleep in, she finds the power at Tsalal station has failed. The generator isn’t starting up, but more crucially, Navarro had let Raymond Clark go, and he had chosen to walk out into the ice and freeze himself to death. Now at odds, the two cops huddle around a fireplace for warmth, where Navarro tries to associate all the events from the last couple of days to something higher than themselves and that Julia had heard those voices as well.

As much as Danvers protests that Julia has given up, Navarro’s mind has become more malleable to the idea ever since she has seen those apparitions while they have been searching for Otis Heiss. She tries to tell Danvers that she has seen Holden, and he wants to give her a message. The grieving Danvers isn’t ready to hear it, warning her that she would kill Navarro rather than listen to any of this.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

But none of these warnings could entirely dissuade Navarro, who we realize has now been feeling unmoored with the world rather than using her anger as a grounding mechanism for reality. As she walks in that cold blizzard, we see her ears bleeding as she finds herself embracing the dream world, which resembles a dried, arid land somewhere in the Middle East. She finds herself interlocking hands with her mother, who finally bestows her “real name.”.

Danvers follows Navarro into the blizzard, but she, too, is wracked with a vision of Holden stuck beneath the ice. Immediately, she tries to break through the ice, like Hank Prior had done to save his son years ago. Instead, she falls into the ice-cold water, and while in the clutches of icy death, she witnesses the same vision we have been seeing. But now Navarro saves her, and in a way, Navarro is also kind of saving Julia. And that accident also recontextualizes Danvers, who finally chooses to listen to what Holden had told Navarro in her visions.

I don’t think the contents were too important; it was just a way for Danvers to finally get closure (though to be fair, Holden saying, “I see you,” is very touching). It’s also tinged with hope as Danvers approaches that elusive feeling as Navarro has, and perhaps even the world is bestowing upon her. We see Leah leaving a voicemail for her, requesting she not die.

Who killed the Tsalal scientists?

As Danvers recuperates, the long night of December 31 ends, with the northern lights peeking through. Danvers advises Navarro to please come back if she chooses to walk back on the ice. It is almost echoing what Qaavik had asked of Navarro, what Leah is trying to evoke by leaving that voicemail, and what Kayla begs Peter after his “job” is done. Navarro, on her part, compares her life with the hatch that she had been holding on to. While metaphors aren’t Danvers’ strong suit, that statement shifts a gear in her. She pours chemicals on top of the hatch and then orders Navarro to flash a UV light on the hatch. Amidst the fingerprints that had tried to open the hatch, Danvers discovers a very specific handprint—one missing two fingers.

From the beginning, the show has been trying to let us listen to the protesters and to the women suffering from stillbirth,  domestic abuse, and violence. It perhaps makes a twisted kind of sense that the women of Ennis, Alaska—especially the ones working at Tsalal Station—finally take a stand. As Danvers and Navarro drive up to Beatrice’s door, they are greeted and asked their true names, and Navarro finally feels complete as she answers with confidence the name her mother granted her through her visions.

In a twisted fashion, the women tell their stories and reveal how the “she did it” is effectively the collective “she.” The women storm in, armed to the teeth with guns and weapons. They had discovered the bloody drill that had been used to kill Annie after the contents of a spilled bucket dripped between the tiles on the floor, revealing the underground makeshift lab. But asking the law to be on their side is a fool’s errand, considering the mine owns the station and the law. So they take it into their own hands.

As it turns out, the forensic report from Anchorage had also been right. The men had died from hypothermia and delusion caused by the same. The men had been forced to disrobe and walk naked into the ice. The women didn’t kill the men; they merely offered them to the Night Country. So what if it was a slab avalanche? It’s all the same. Does it really matter who left that tongue? As the show says, it’s not part of the women’s story.

True Detective: Night Country (Season 4 Finale), Episode 6 ‘Part 6’ Ending, Explained: 

Months later, the sun has crept back up over the horizon. We see a familiar “True Detective” set-up, where the investigator of the case is interrogated by the federal agents. While that used to be the framing device in the previous seasons, now it is used for denouement. The feds don’t believe the story about Hank having made a deal with Heiss and inevitably having been involved in sabotage that led to the disappearance of his body. But there isn’t any other story left that sufficiently ties all the pieces together.

We do know that Navarro is gone, though she left gifts. The Spongebob Toothbrush belongs to Qaavik, the Polar Bear plushy to Danvers, along with a taped confession to Danvers where he eloquently recounts how Silver Sky and Tsalal were inextricably linked together in the case, which Danvers has presumably leaked. And while Danvers says that Navarro is gone, as it turns out, Navarro is still around, hanging out with Danvers at their summer house. Could that mean the beginning of a new partnership between the two of them in Ennis, Alaska? Sure, one can choose to believe it.

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True Detective: Night Country (Season 4 Finale), Episode 6 Links: IMDbRotten Tomatoes
True Detective: Night Country (Season 4 Finale) Episode 6 Cast: Jodie Foster, Kali Reis, John Hawkes, Christopher Eccleston
Where to watch True Detective: Night Country

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