After four years, True Detective has returned for a fourth season that jettisons original creator Nic Pizzolatto and replaces him with showrunner Issa López, who’s already racking up rave reviews for her first crack at the anthology series.
Titled True Detective: Night Country, the new season follows Jodie Foster and Kali Reis as they navigate a murder mystery in Alaska. According to early reviews, the two leads are easily the best component of the new season that is almost unanimously being viewed as a worthy successor to the inaugural True Detective season starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.
You can see what the critics are saying below:
Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone:
Night Country injects a whole lot of female energy both onscreen — in the form of Foster and co-star Kali Reis, as Danvers’ reluctant partner Evangeline Navarro — and off, into a series that in the past wasn’t exactly celebrated for its use of women. The end result is a lean, mean, six-episode season that retains most of what was great under Pizzolatto, while leaving behind the more self-indulgent or outright clumsy parts of those years.
Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter:
Night Country is, in some ways, a throwback to the first season, bringing back the uncomfortable intersection of true crime narrative and supernatural undertones. The season also includes direct nods to imagery and dialogue from the first season — generally unnecessary citations that feel like a sop to the Pizzolatto-worshipping corner of the fandom, since otherwise Night Country is at odds with the previous seasons in terms of theme and overall perspective. Night Country pushes aside Pizzolatto’s trademark masculine brooding for a female-forward story that personalizes and internalizes the anthology’s typically convoluted plotting in a way that’s refreshing and frequently potent.
Bob Strauss, The Wrap:
What’s cool about this icy season is pretty hot, though. Leads Jodie Foster and Kali Reis top that list, ably carrying an investigation past spooky red herrings and gratuitous melodrama. The Hollywood veteran plays Ennis police chief Liz Danvers, a no-nonsense pro (“This is a crime scene, I want you to pretend you know what you’re doing!” she barks at underlings clowning around a grisly mound of frozen corpses) assigned to this remote outpost for reasons other than the professed one, her skill at dealing with the criminal psychology effect of monthslong winter nights. Pro boxer and “Catch the Fair One” star Reis is Detective Evangeline Navarro, an Afghan War vet who came to Alaska to reconnect with the Iñupiaq half of her heritage.
Carly Lane, Collider:
Previous seasons of True Detective have been anchored on the success of their actors, and Night Country continues that trend. It’s impossible to look at Ennis police chief Elizabeth Danvers and not see Foster, who feels simultaneously meant to play this character and perfectly suited for such a role at this stage in her career. In lesser hands, Liz could run the risk of becoming a stereotype — a hardened woman who eschews emotional connection for convenient physical flings (many of them with already-married men, earning the ire of their wives) and successfully damages most of her other relationships. But Liz is also a shrewd investigator, even if she’s been relegated to a small, somewhat sleepy Alaskan town by her superior.
Meghan O’Keefe, Decider:
All six episodes of True Detective: Night Country are written (or co-written) and directed by Issa López. Even though she’s a super accomplished writer and director in her native Mexico, López’s work might come as a revelation to English-speaking American viewers. López has not only crafted scripts that effortlessly entangle the magical and the mundane, but she’s able to deftly wrap up the show’s big mysteries, leaving only the most intentional of loose ends. As a director, she never seems hampered by setting the story during non-stop night. In fact, she finds endlessly creative ways to use the stark brightness of a lantern or the glow of twinkle lights to frame her actors clearly.
Caryn James, BBC:
With eerie suspense, vibrant characters and a layer of the supernatural, the series’ creator and director, Issa López, gives Night Country a singular feeling, and those opening credits suggest how: this show gets really creepy, in a good way. The original season of True Detective (2014), with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, set high expectations. After two much weaker follow-ups, this fourth season finally lives up to the exhilarating promise of the first.
True Detective: Night Country premieres January 4 on HBO.