So far, “Night Country” has fulfilled one of season 1’s biggest promises by restoring the cosmic horror element that was missing from the second and third seasons. But with episode 2, we now know we’re most definitely in the same universe as our old friends Marty Hart and Rust Cohle. What’s more, we now know the case in “Night Country” is very much connected to the case in season 1.
In what is quickly shaping up to be the best season of “True Detective” since the original, Jodie Foster’s Police Chief Liz Danvers investigates the death of a group of research workers who vanished from the Tsalal Arctic research station near the fictional Ennis, Alaska. Alongside State Trooper Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis), who’s convinced the disappearance is connected to one of her previous murder cases, Danvers delves into the mystery of what caused an entire team of scientists to end up sunken into the Alaskan tundra, suspended in a frozen “corpsicle.”
After the discovery of this horrific diorama at the end of episode 1, the second installment gives us our most obvious spiral symbol yet, when the police discover the sign on a deceased scientist’s forehead. This comes after the first episode also gave us several season 1 references that may or may not have been Easter eggs: the abandoned Lone Star beer bottle (Rust’s personal favorite) in the research center, the spiral symbol on the cupboard in Peter Prior (Finn Bennet)’s house, and yet another spiral symbol formed by Danver’s arrangement of evidence photos in her home.
Now, however, we know for sure that these weren’t simply Easter eggs or Issa Lopez’s attempt to reinterpret the use of the spiral symbol; they’re a direct reference to the events of season 1.