5 Reasons Why True Detective: Night Country is Awful

True Detective collage

I wanted True Detective: Night Country to be good. When my friend texted me for my thoughts after episode one and I told him it was “meh”, he was disappointed. He also had high hopes, and he said he liked it.

After two more episodes, he returned with a text, in full agreement. By then, I had fully given up. I was still pushing my body through this disaster against my will, purely interested to see how high the dumpster fire flames would rise.

But if you’re wondering still if True Detective season four is worth your time, here’s your answer: nope.

The initial trailer was awesome. The casting of Jodie Foster was exciting. And a setting in the dark, gloomy, and bitterly cold Alaska was alluring.

And yet, they bungled it, and now it’s dead last in my True Detective season rankings.

There’s a lot to be mad about when it comes to True Detective: Night Country. Here are the five biggest reasons I hate it.

There’s No Banter

One of my favorite things about the first season was the constant banter between Rust and Marty. Even when they were hating each other, there was an affability in the air when they were paired up.

This wasn’t ever replicated at the same level in the second or third season, but we still got it. Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn certainly had their moments, and we even got some of it with Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff.

Night Country lacks any real humor. When the show tries to sprinkle it in, it’s out of character, forced, or simply not funny. Where are the one-liners? The zingers? The banter?

Non-existent, is where.

The Characters Are Unlikable

Beyond a lack of humor or quotable lines, these characters simply suck. And by suck, I mean they suck the life out of the audience and the entire series.

That isn’t to say the casting was bad. I think the cast is great, and I also think for the most part the actors do a decent job with what they’re giving to work with. But there isn’t much positive character development, and none of the characters offer any redeeming qualities.

The only one that does might be Peter Prior. He actually does earnest detective work and stays true to his character. He’s also not an obvious piece of shit or sketchy in any way like virtually every other person we run into in this show.

Seriously, who are we rooting for here? Do we eventually meet the murderers and just say, fuck it, let them win? We don’t care about anybody in this season. So, why then, should we care about where the story takes them?

We’re Not Seeing Devoted Detective Work

A pretty key part of this series is seeing actual detective work in play, while these devoted officers of the law work long hours as they peck away at a troubling puzzle.

We’ve seen very brief moments of our main two detectives putting photos and pieces of paper on the floor in a spiral pattern. Wow!

And then they got to visit a couple of people to question them. Boom! End of detective work.

Seriously, every major clue they’ve gotten is either basic police work, or falls into their laps. Remember when they lucked their way into finding Otis? And the main connection to figure out he was a person of interest was by searching on Google?

What are we even doing here? There is no concrete detective work being done. From what I can tell, these detectives kind of suck at their jobs, and they’re not particularly good at living life, either.

True Detective Isn’t Supposed to Be Supernatural

All of the stuff I’ve gone over is borderline subjective. Maybe you disagree and think the characters are awesome, the show is funny, and that the detective work has been sound.

I don’t see how, but you never know.

One thing I don’t fee is subjective is that through the first three seasons, True Detective has been rooted in grimy worlds with foot to the ground detective work.

There has been a light connection to the supernatural, but it’s always been correctly kept in check.

This show is about unraveling complex cases, and about detectives fighting back against time, dead ends, and even themselves to finally figure out something that was gnawing at them.

It isn’t about ghosts and mysteries that would otherwise be chalked up as supernatural.

There is too much open to interpretation here; to the point where we are no longer strictly talking about a murder case and the people trying to solve it. We’re also talking about ghosts, demons, zombies, and so much dumb shit that has nothing to do with why we’re actually here.

Like, who is the audience for this? Horror fans? It damn sure ain’t True Detective fans.

The Horror Element is Lazy and Forced

Lastly, I’ll piggy-back off my last point and double down on the horror element being dumb. Why? Because it’s absurdly lazy, and it also feels incredibly forced.

When in doubt, make up some dumb shit about dark magic, ghosts, possession, zombies – you name it – so the audience doesn’t know what to expect.

But that doesn’t align with the overall message we’ve gotten from True Detective seasons in the past. Those seasons all stood on their own, but they didn’t lazily lean on supernatural elements to carry them through each episode.

And my god, the jump scares. Weird zombie people under beds? Dead guys coming back to life and pointing and whispering shit that’s supposed to come off as profound, yet just feels so cheezy.

In a nutshell, True Detective: Night Country had everything it needed to be maybe the second best season of this anthology series. Unfortunately, the writing, direction, and execution has missed the mark horribly.

You might like this season of TD if you are a horror fan. It’s not well done horror, though, so even then, you might not. It’s possible you might like this season if you’re a Jodie Foster fan. However, the show doesn’t really maximize her strengths or put her in many situations that allows her to go to work.

So again, you probably will hate it.

True Detective season 4 had promise. The trailer looked awesome. The cast felt on point. The setting was dark, mysterious, and the story felt plenty scary.

But it stinks of trying too hard, and at times, not trying nearly hard enough. I’m writing this with four episodes down and two to go, so maybe it turns around. Sadly, it’s been a slow and trying journey, so I tend to doubt it gets better from here.

The good news? There are TV shows like True Detective out there worth checking out. Even if the show’s own recent installment looks nothing like the series many of us have grown to love.

Scott Bondiful


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