True Detective: Night Country creator explains real reason for divisive season 1 references

Exclusive: Issa López has put an end to any theories linking season four’s case to season one’s

Jacob Stolworthy
Monday 19 February 2024 03:58 GMT
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True Detective: Night Country showrunner Issa López has explained her reasoning for linking the series to the very first season.

In a development that proved divisive to a contingent of long-time fans of the HBO anthology series, season four, starring Jodie Foster and Kali Reis, was revealed to have direct links to characters and symbols featured in the acclaimed debut run, which aired in 2014.

Set in Ennis, Alaska, the series, which was review-bombed by “bros” upon its release, follows detectives Liz Danvers and Evangeline Navarro, as they investigate the sudden disappearance of eight men from a research station. Two episodes in, a spiral symbol heavily featured in season one appeared.

Elsewhere, eagle-eyed viewers highlighted how one character in Night Country was actually the father of Matthew McConaughey’s character Rustin “Rust” Cohle appeared.

In season one’s debut episode, Rust tells his new partner, Marty (Harrelson), that he grew up in Alaska and that his father, Travis, lived there and had leukaemia. In Night Country episode two, we discover that the ghostly presence that led Ennis resident Rose (Fiona Shaw) to the missing bodies in the snow was her former lover, Travis Cohle. She explained that, rather than die of leukaemia, he walked out in the ice and froze to death.

The Independent asked López about the reasoning behind these refefenced during a preview screening of the finale, which will air on Sunday 18 February in the US and the following day in the UK.

According to López, it was a convenient way to convey the shows share a universe, and nothing more. The Mexican writer-director was already working on a murder mystery set in Alaska when HBO called and asked her “what she’d do” with True Detective.

After deciding to transpose a new series of True Detective onto her existing idea, the writer-director “set out to create it in the very same universe”.

López told The Independent: ”It’s very important to me to say the world where Dora Lange died in 2007 in Louisiana is the exact same world where the scientists disappear in 2024. So how do you establish those realities? Just to say, ‘This is the same world.’

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The showrunner said it was nothing more than a coincidence that Rust’s father had died in the place her series was set and thought it would be another convenient way of linking the worlds. She also suggested the use of the symbol was not designed to be a hint that the cases featured in each season were in any way linked.

Kali Reiss, Jodie Foster and Issa López at a screening of ‘True Detective: Night Country’s finale (HBO International Publicity)

“While you’re creating your situation in Alaska, and the father of [Rust] died in Alaska, you mention it,” she continued, adding: “Then it turns out I need a symbol that signifies to these characters that they’re in the proximity of the beyond – well, there’s a symbol that did that in the first season. I’m not going to put a triangle in this one.”

López said: “It’s organic – and there’s members of the audience who are going to adore it because it connects it and it’s recognisable and you’re that meme with Leonardo DiCpario, right?”

Seemingly hinting at the outcry among a contingent of fans, López said: “There are people who are going to go, ‘Oh, she’s trying to make... it is what it is. It’s the same universe. and as you’re going to see, it connects further.

True Detective: Night Country will conclude on HBO on Sunday (18 February) and will be available to stream on NOW in the UK the following day.

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