True Detective: Night Country Part 3 Recap — She’s Waiting For You

Danvers with a hat and coat in True Detective: Night Country Part 3
Photograph by Michele K. Short/HBO

The following recap contains spoilers for True Detective: Night Country Part 3 (written and directed by Issa López)

It might have taken until the third episode of True Detective: Night Country, but one of the foundational pieces of this anthology series finally emerged. Whether it’s Harrelson and McConaughey in Season 1, Farrell and Vaughn in Season 2, or Ali and Dorff in Season 3, the partnership of two troubled but talented investigators is often the heart of True Detective.

After the discovery of Raymond Clark’s clandestine trailer in Part 2, where he and Anne Kowtok had a romantic relationship, the shared pursuit of this new suspect finally brings Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) and Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) together in a meaningful way despite their hatred towards one another and declaration they never would work together again.

It’s a welcome addition to this season which has already explored a series of mysterious deaths, connections to a mystical or supernatural evil presence, and a setting that is completely unsettling and disorienting. The re-introduction of the reluctant investigators working together finally makes this season seem like it belongs in the True Detective library.

A man stands in front of a shack on the ice
Photograph by Michele K. Short/HBO

Writer and director Issa López has spoken about coming up with the idea of a dark, supernatural murder mystery set in Alaska before HBO and Warner Bros. approached her about running a season of True Detective. Inspired by iconic mysteries and horror properties like The Thing, Se7en, Silence of the Lambs, and the Dyatlov Pass incident, López rightly assumed her story would fit well into the True Detective universe, and she just needed to reform the story to include a plausible love-hate relationship between two detectives.

With a natural backdrop of the racial and communal tensions of the Native population of northern Alaska and migrant mine workers who are (in the eyes of Natives) destroying the land and the people who live there, López was able to set up Danvers and Navarro as proxies for each of those communities.

Add in a dash of arrogance, spitefulness, and mysterious background, and the True Detective: Night Country was born. Part 3 dives deep into the mysteries of the Anne Kowtok and Tsalal research disappearances and ends on a series of cliffhangers that make us question what the reality of these two leads really as the show turns the corner into the back half of the season.

Hank Prior standing on the ice
Photograph by Michele K. Short/HBO

Hank Prior, who gets no sympathy by being clearly catfished by his “Russian bride” because he likes to beat up on his son, recruits a group of renegade civilians after being assigned the job of tracking Raymond Clark. Considering what we have deduced about Prior’s prior ineptitude, this perhaps is not the best decision Chief Danvers has ever made, and towards the end of the episode, she has to tell Officer Prior to call off his “hillbillies” and just do his job (in much more colorful language).

The younger Prior, Officer Pete, implores Danvers to tell him about the case that drove her and Navarro apart those many years ago. Eventually, Danvers relents, but initially doesn’t give all the details. With shades of the “Half Measure” conversation between Mike Ehrmantraut and Walter White, Danvers tells Pete of a horrible man who consistently beat his wife. The wife would brush it off and say everything was alright, so Danvers and Navarro never pushed too hard.

One day, she tells Prior, they would find that the husband killed his wife and then turned a gun on himself. Except what Danvers says and what is shown doesn’t match. Danvers and Navarro discover the wife dead, but the husband very much alive, observing and pleasantly whistling at his violent handiwork.

What Danvers is hiding from Pete, clearly, is that one or both of Danvers and Navarro killed the husband after discovering the scene. Who did what and the subsequent fallout is left to our interpretation, but one of two things must have happened.

Either Danvers killed him and Navarro left the Alaska Police Force because she refused to help cover it up, or Navarro killed the man and Danvers sent her to another division because she didn’t want someone that destructive on her force. I’m torn about what to believe here. Danvers seems much more bent on aggression and violence, also being prone to outbursts. But Navarro seems more singularly focused on justice and people getting what they deserve.

Whatever did happen, the Raymond Clark trailer and evidence found inside have brought these two back together again. Going through the evidence from the Clark trailer, Danvers and Navarro learn about a former Tsalal operator named Oliver from Annie’s hairdresser. With Clark missing, Lund still in a coma in the hospital, and the other six researchers dead, Danvers and Navarro hope that Oliver—who now lives a nomadic life off the grid—can shed some light both on the Raymond/Annie relationship and what was happening at Tsalal that could have caused the deaths of so many men.

Pete sits with Kayla, who's at a laptop
Photograph by Michele K. Short/HBO

Back at the local ice skating rink, the death of these men—more specifically, the time of their death—becomes a point of concern. After their forensic technician gets snowed in and is unable to make it to Ennis, Pete recommends a vet he knows to examine the bodies. This vet has studied several animal deaths that have been brought on by freezing. He believes the Tsalal men died before they were frozen in the ice because mammals tend to die peacefully when frozen because their bodies and organs begin to slowly shut down internally.

With no clear cause of death determined yet (it is still a corpsicle after all) the idea that one man (Clark) could have attempted to kill seven others simultaneously is losing steam. The detectives desperately need new information, and after they strike out with Oliver (who threatens to kill them in no uncertain terms), they get a call that researcher Lund has awoken at the hospital. He lost both legs, one arm, and has gangrene all over his body, but he is waking up, so Danvers and Navarro rush to talk to him.

After arriving to truly one of the most disturbing scenes of a man ever portrayed on television, Danvers hurriedly and aggressively tries to ask him what happened. Lund can not manage words, only grunts and screams. Lund is sedated again, and the doctors and Danvers leave to break up some kind of scuffle in the lobby, which truly has no other explanation except to provide convenient timing for only Navarro to be in the room with him.

In a scene ripped right out of any number of classic horror films, Lund silently sits up in bed over Navarro’s shoulder. No screams. No grunts. Only a few words before he flatlines and is lost forever.

“Your mother says hello. She’s waiting for you.”

Previously in the episode we see and hear more about Navarro’s sister Julia, and her continued hallucinations. She sees things that aren’t there and is beginning to travel down a path that their mother was on, eventually leading to her death. The question we as viewers must ask is, did this interaction with Lund before he died happen? Earlier in Part 3, we see Navarro slip and fall into a hallucinogenic state where she wakes up in a desert. We know that the issues her sister has are either hereditary or have been passed down in some way to Julia.

One of the interesting things to follow with Navarro in the weeks to come will be the nature of her reality and, from her perspective, what could be happening that others do not, or cannot, see. And also, is “she” the same “she” that Clark says is awake in Part 1?

Navarro, Pete and Danvers huddle in a hospital hall looking at a phone in True Detective: Night Country Part 3
Photograph by Michele K. Short/HBO

There is no time to litigate that at the end of Part 3 because Pete arrives at the hospital, declaring he was able to unlock Annie’s phone, which was found in the trailer. Danvers knew he would be able to because he is “under 30,” but I don’t think any of them expected to find a video of Annie moments before her death.

All that is seen is Annie seemingly surrounded by ice, lost and confused. She knows she is in trouble and makes a sort of “if you find this” video before being dragged away. Now, both the researchers at Tsalal and Anne met their demise on the ice, but in neither case is it clear if these detectives are searching for a “who” or a “what.” The mysterious deaths of both are both connected and separate. Their causes exist in the state between the known and the unknown, much like the town of Ennis and the secrets that lie beneath it.

Written by Ryan Kirksey


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  1. Did you happen to notice what “the husband” who didn’t commit suicide was whistling? Curiouser and curiouser.

  2. Subtitles on the show say it’s “Twist and Shout”, the same thing from Ferris Buehler in Part 1 that Danvers hears and gets so angry…

    • Ah, it sucks that we didn’t hear it that way/put it together when we were watching it! Very intriguing connection

  3. Subtitles say it’s “Twist and Shout”, the same song from Ferris Buehler heard in Part 1 that makes Danvers so angry

  4. I am quickly learning this is one of the downsides of watching this specific show on screeners! Also missed the Part 2 connection with the Tuttle family from Season 1.

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