‘True Detective: Night Country,’ Episode 3: What Really Happened in the Wheeler Case?

In Ennis, Alaska, they certainly see dead people. In “Part Three” of True Detective: Night Country, the plot thickens as we learn more about why things are slightly icy between Danvers (Jodie Foster) and Navarro (Kali Reis). Below, Still Watching hosts Hillary Busis, Richard Lawson, and Chris Murphy try to piece together the many mysteries of Ennis, Alaska, from spiral symbols to reappearing oranges. Plus, they chat with Isabella LeBlanc, who shares how she brought Leah Danvers to life.

With Raymond Clark still officially at large, Hank Prior (John Hawkes) enlists a team of men whom Danvers less than affectionately calls his “hillbillies” to find the scientist. Hank may have more information about the disappearance of Annie K then he’s letting on, as it’s revealed that he got a call about Raymond and Annie before her death but kept the information to himself. Murphy believes that Hank is “hiding something” about Annie K’s death to protect the miners. “It’s becoming clear that it’s white people versus indigenous people in terms of the mine—who wants it and who doesn’t. Obviously, Hank’s on the miner’s side,” he says. 

While Hank and his hillbillies are searching for the Tsalal scientists, Navarro is dealing with issues both professional and personal. She gets a call that her sister, Julia, is having another episode, and checks her into the town’s mental hospital, The Lighthouse, against her will.  At the end of the episode, Navarro visits one of the surviving scientists, Lund, at the hospital, and he rises from his bed to deliver an ominous message. Could Navarro be the next person to succumb to her family’s hereditary mental illness? ”This is a town where people see ghosts, maybe because they’re crazy from the darkness. But that moment, that is pure Exorcist, Emily Rose kind of thing,” says Lawson. “If Navarro is hallucinating that, she has worse problems than I thought.”

While the episode ends on a pretty grim note, it’s not all horror. The opening features a flashback of Annie K and a group of indigenous women helping a fellow native woman give birth, and is refreshing in its non-traumatic depiction of childbirth. “All of the birth scenes that we’ve seen on prestige TV in the past two years especially have been dramatic, and traumatic, and horrible, and scarring,” says Busis—prompting Murphy to name check Prime Video’s Dead Ringers, FX’s Fleischman Is in Trouble, and HBO’s House of the Dragons as examples. 

“I was so thrilled to see a scene like that where it’s intense, but then the baby is fine and the woman is also fine,” continues Busis. “There’s been this overcorrection because for too long, we skated past the nasty parts of womanhood and the female body. So now we’re gonna lean way hard in the other direction. We’re gonna show how awful it is all the time.” Night Country, though, goes against that grain.

The birth scene is also important because it showcases Annie K’s importance to her community, making her loss all the more painful and Navarro’s urge to avenge her that much stronger. “This was a really great way to meet Annie K in her element,” says Lawson. “We’d heard about her as being this kind of antagonizer, a troublemaker. To have her doing this work behind literal closed doors that is so vital, I think, really establishes her as someone who was trying to do good in a place that seems very allergic to good.”

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