True Detective: Night Country is coming to a close fast, and its penultimate episode is a stark revelation for everything laid out in the series up until Episode 5. In the last episode, Julia (Aka Niviâna) walked onto the ice. Now, Night Country Episode 5 opens with Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) watching her sister’s cremation. While the last episode ended with an ominous mention of the eponymous Night Country, the penultimate episode isn’t as focused on the supernatural as it is concerned with solving Annie Kowtok’s (Nivi Pedersen) murder and connecting the dots between the Silver Sky mine and the many deaths in Ennis.
Night Country Episode 5 is heartbreaking. Lopez brings the audience into Navarro’s heart. It’s broken and hurting, and when she hugs her sister’s warm urn, her somber reality sets in. But with Julia gone, there is one face that Navarro can’t stop seeing: Annie K. The motion from the opening is only matched at the end of the episode. The in-between is an unwinding mystery, with every question we’ve had throughout the limited series finding at least one answer.
In Night Country Episode 5, Peter Prior (Finn Bennett) digs into the links between Tsalal and the mining company Silver Sky. Speaking to his father in the process. The deep connection between the mine and the deaths in Ennis goes deeper than the researchers and Annie K. With nine infant stillborns in the month, it’s clear that the mine isn’t just aiming to destroy their homes but harm Indigenous people before they’re even out of the womb. The tragedy that the mine brings is insurmountable, but the town is fighting back. The episode moves from the quiet halls of the crematorium to the protest outside Silver Sky. The people of Ennis chant, “We were here before, gonna stay when you’re gone.” Leah (Isabella LaBlanc) of course, is among them. But so is Navarro. Only, she’s traded the urn for a riot shield.
When Navarro rescues Leah the protest that turned violent as the riot police beat the protestors, Liz Danvers finally gets to talk to her stepdaughter. Throughout the series, we’ve seen that Danvers’ racist remarks take shape out of fear. She doesn’t want her stepdaughter Leah to be seen as an Indigenous woman. Not out of shame, but in her words, because “She needs to get how vulnerable she’s making herself.”
Danvers is aware of the pain the Indigenous women in the community are going through—their deaths and the loss of their children. As she uncovers the reality of how Silver Sky is linked to Annie’s murder, she isn’t letting that impact go like she was before. In a meeting with Silver Sky exec Kate McKitterick (Dervla Kirwan), Danvers (Jodie Foster) balks when Connelly (Christopher Eccleston) shares the official cause of the Tsalal men’s deaths. It was an avalanche. They froze to death.
But with that official coroner report from Anchorage comes a warning. Danvers needs to stop pushing the case. When Hank Prior’s (John Hawkes) role in it all is revealed, and he receives a quid pro quo offer from Silver Sky, the danger is closer than Danvers suspected.
Written by Katrina Albright & Wenonah Wilms, Chris Mundy, and Issa López and directed by Issa López, Night Country Episode 5 is a standout. The intrigue and the sadness that courses through every scene is striking. Every moment of this episode builds on the last, cascading toward a finale where absolutely everything has changed. Danvers knows that she and Navarro are in it alone. This brings them closer. Only when Hank threatens her life it is his son Peter, who is there to save the day.
The reveals in Night Country Episode 5 are fantastic. Hank, as Danvers notes, isn’t really an idiot. He just pretends to be. Silver Sky is manipulating absolutely everything. Navarro is deeply connected to Annie, who haunts her, pushing her to the truth. And Silver Sky is behind everything.
Night Country Episode 5 delivers on every front for a penultimate episode. Kali Reis’s Navarro is one of the best dramatic characters on television. She is tough and vulnerable. Navarro is unflinchingly resilient but breaks under the weight of her grief. As a character, Episode 5 delivers on all of the build-up. Her contention with the police force while being a member of it. The importance of her Indigenous identity to who she is, despite the orders she is given. Her empathy is the core of the series.
For Danvers, this episode proves that she can’t work within the confines of the law. She stepped out of it once before to protect Danvers. Now, she has to do it again. Jodie Foster’s acting as Danvers is stoic, but the conflict rumbles beneath her surface. The audience is frustrated with her, worried for her, and ultimately trying to invest in her family story as Leah becomes increasingly in danger.
Thematically, True Detective: Night Country Episode 5 feels different. The horror and supernatural take a backseat to the mystery. We may be entering the Night Country, but we’re solidly in detective noir territory now. Ultimately, there is a lot left to unpack in the final episode of the limited series, but it’s set up to bring it all home. The best the series has been since Season 1, Night Country is an emotional and tense thriller.
True Detective: Night Country is streaming now on MAX (formerly HBO MAX).
Thematically, True Detective: Night Country Episode 5 feels different. The horror and supernatural take a backseat to the mystery. We may be entering the Night Country, but we’re solidly in detective noir territory now.