TRUE DETECTIVE: NIGHT COUNTRY Episode 5 Review – Unraveling the Craziest Episode Yet

The second-to-last episode of True Detective: Night Country is now available on Max, and a lot happened in it. Here is our breakdown!
Jodie Foster HBO True Detective Night Country

Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for Episode 5 of True Detective: Night Country.

The fifth episode of True Detective: Night Country is now available to stream on Max, which means this week I get to discuss Issa López’s nail-biting season a bit earlier than usual. The episode will still air at its usual time on Sunday on HBO, though fans who fear the risk of running into major spoilers on the Internet might not want to wait for that. And yeah, this one has some crazy spoilers.

We will be leaving that discussion for later, though, and here I’ll give my spoiler-free thoughts on my favorite episode of the season so far. This is in huge part because of how well Issa López, who wrote (along with Katrina Albright, Wenonah Wilms, and Chris Mundy) and directed “Part 5”, was able to build the momentum of the narrative and have it culminate in its final, gripping 10 minutes.

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The beginning of the episode is focused on the aftermath of “Part 4”. A week later, Navarro (Kali Reis) is saying farewell one last time to her sister Julia, while Prior (Finn Bennett) finally faces the consequences Kayla has been holding back for a long time. At the same time, Danvers (Jodie Foster) is getting cornered everywhere.

We’re now in the third act of the story, and things finally start to converge in this episode, though we’re not quite there yet. Some of the narrative resolutions that are presented in this episode feel a bit cliché, yet Issa López and her team of writers did their homework well enough over the past four episodes to make us believe that this is the route these characters go into.

Jodie Foster Finn Bennett HBO True Detective Night Country
(L-R) Jodie Foster and Finn Bennett in HBO’s True Detective: Night Country.

Foster has been the star of the season so far, but everyone excels in this episode and keeps up with her level. Kali Reis has some emotional damage to get over, while Finn Bennett keeps playing a highly divided character; one who can’t quite figure out his priorities yet. “Kids shouldn’t get married this young,” his father Hank (John Hawkes, also exceptional here) says at one point. Is that it, though? Or are adults around him such lunatics that they’ve messed up one of the best they had?

By far my favorite moments of the episode all featured Prior, and I particularly enjoyed a conversation between him and Leah (Isabella Star LeBlanc), in which she makes him realize how much Kayla loves him while reminding him of the person he used to be before getting sucked into Danvers’ orbit.

Without further ado, I will raise a spoiler warning for those of our readers who still haven’t seen the new episode. Make sure to check back once you’ve done that!

True Detective: Night Country Sets Up a Big Season Finale [*SPOILERS AHEAD*]

We’ve suspected for a few episodes now that there is a larger conspiracy going on here, and certainly, the ubiquitous mine must have something to do with it. Perhaps we couldn’t have predicted all of the characters involved in this -and by the end of “Part 5” we still don’t know the full extent or what it’s all about- but I would have been shocked if Hank hadn’t been involved somehow.

But, as it predictably turns out, he’s just a minion to Silver Sky exec Kate McKittrick’s (Dervla Kirwan) pretensions. As such, it’s not just his fake online girlfriend who’s scammed him, as he was once promised chief of police — and sadly, after having that promise reiterated, he’ll never get the chance to see they wouldn’t have followed through either.

Finn Bennett HBO True Detective Night Country
Finn Bennett in HBO’s True Detective: Night Country.

In a meeting at Silver Sky’s offices, McKitterick and Connelly (Christopher Eccleston) tried their best to scare her away from the case — yet they went a step too far when they brought up the Wheeler incident. Danvers initially backs down, but Navarro, as a good partner, puts her back in her place, and she’s finally able to figure out part of the conspiracy: Hank cracked into Prior’s computer and figured it out because the kid had done it first. That interrogation scene between Prior and Danvers was also one of the highlights of the episode for me.

Understanding Those Final Ten Minutes

Otis Heiss (Klaus Tange) was the key to the whole thing. He was the one who could have driven Navarro and Danvers to the Night Country, the mysterious set of caves that seem to be the missing link connecting all of the mysteries of this season. As such, Hank had to take him out of their grip, but that escalated quickly.

The writing here is what did it for me, not just of this scene but of the whole episode. Hank and Otis were meant to go, and Prior had to kill the former. That seems to be the final straw for his character, and for him to be there, he had to be living in the house. But it was also important that he’d kill Hank when the two were on good terms after Prior had crashed with his father for a night. It’s the definition of building momentum, and it worked perfectly.

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But what will happen next on True Detective? Prior will certainly need a therapist, and Navarro and Danvers are about to find out what’s going on exactly with the mine and the Tsalal station. Coincidentally, and with pure dramatic purpose, the storm is getting worse by the minute. It’s as if the weather didn’t want them to find the answers they’d been looking for. But for that, we’ll have to wait a few more days.

Episode 5 of True Detective: Night Country is available to stream now on Max.

About True Detective: Night Country

True Detective

Release Date: Jan. 14, 2024
Director and showrunner: Issa López
Writers: Issa López, Alan Page Arriaga, Namsi Khan, Chris Mundy, Katrina Albright, and Wenonah Wilms
Produced By: Princess Daazhraii Johnson, Cathy Tagnak Rexford, Sam Breckman
Executive Produced By: Issa López, Mari Jo Winkler, Barry Jenkins, Adele Romanski, and Mark Ceryak for PASTEL, Chris Mundy; Alan Page Arriaga, Steve Golin, Richard Brown, Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Cary Joji Fukunaga, and Nic Pizzolatto
Production: Anonymous Content, HBO Entertainment
Distributed by: HBO
Cast: Jodie Foster, Kali Reis, Fiona Shaw, Finn Bennett, Isabella Star Lablanc, Aka Niviâna, Anna Lambe, and Joel D. Montgrand with Christopher Eccleston, and John Hawkes

Synopsis: When eight researchers at Tsalal Station suddenly disappear, Danvers (Jodie Foster) orders a search but tempers expectations of finding the men. After handling a workplace dispute and checking in on her sister Julia (Aka Niviâna), Navarro (Kali Reis) tries to convince a skeptical Danvers (Foster) that the men’s disappearance is connected to the murder of local activist Annie Kowtok, a case that has long gone cold.

How do you think True Detective: Night Country will conclude its season? What are your theories going into the final episode? What was your favorite moment of “Part 5”? Let us know your thoughts on our social media channels on Discord and Twitter, and stay tuned for next week’s review of the finale.

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