True Detective is a hard series to review, just because the first season was such a revelation when it came out in 2014, and the following seasons have at least been good to great or got people talking about the series. That being said, making any sort of connection between them would be a bit foolhardy.

This time around, instead of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, we get Peter Prior (played by Finn Bennett), Hank Prior (played by John Hawkes), and Liz Danvers (played by Jodie Foster). The setting is a remote town in Alaska where an entire crew of scientists has gone missing. This isn’t just like they’ve been kidnapped or decided to go home, either. Everything of theirs is still here: personal items, phones, even half-eaten food.

Director and writer Issa Lopez does make some strategic choices that make True Detective: Night Country feel a bit like that first season, however. There are two investigators who are clearly on opposing sides of personality and approach, and there are even some horror/supernatural elements that’ll make you question if they’re real or not. It’s a fascinating season of television that’ll grip you the entire time. For a series in 2024 to do that to audiences without the mystery unraveling early or any sort of “armchair” writers thinking they’ve got it cracked is a miracle.

Foster is the real force throughout this season, though. She’s involved in every part of the proceedings with an impressive performance. She carries the season with a masterful performance that commands attention. Her chemistry with Kali Reis is another highlight. They work together excellently, and it adds to the overall mystique of the season.

This small Alaska town has plenty to hide, including conflicts that go deep, townsfolk vs. operators, families vs. families, and even some possible supernatural conflicts. The real conflict in the season, though, is between Danvers and Detective Evangeline Navarro (played by Kali Reis). The two have a checkered past that involves once being partners and a case that eluded them and eventually broke up their partnership.

Lopez balances the horror, supernatural, drama, and procedural genres all in one during this season. The mood and vibes of the writing feel like they could be all over the place, but Lopez reigns it in for a thrilling mystery that’ll definitely make you gasp at least once.

Those horror elements and the supernatural “does it/doesn’t it” feeling all combine for what amounts to the best season of the series since the first. It’s really a haunting, spooky kind of vibe that was sorely needed after some pulpy seasons didn’t go as well as hoped. Foster’s performance carries the series, but Issa Lopez’s direction and writing really cement this as an excellent TV season.

True Detective: Night Country premieres on HBO on January 14th.

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