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What happened in True Detective: Night Country episode one?

Season four of the hit HBO series returned on Monday, 15 January

True Detective: Night Country (Sky)
True Detective: Night Country (Sky)

True Detective: Night Country has arrived on Sky Atlantic and NOW, introducing the next chapter in the crime anthology series with a brand new cast.

Starring Jodie Foster and Kali Reis as detectives Liz Danvers and Evangeline Navarro, the series follows their characters as they investigate the mysterious disappearance of eight men from a research station in the fictional town of Ennis, Alaska.

True Detective's latest outing has recently concluded and proved so popular under showrunner Issa López's watch that a fifth season has been ordered, with López returning as series overseer.

Read more: True Detective: Night Country review: HBO drama makes relentlessly thrilling return

The first episode aired on Monday, 15 January and some viewers may be curious about what happened in the story, with that in mind Yahoo will explain everything you need to know. But, before we dive in, be warned that this article contains major spoilers for episode one.

True Detective: Night Country episode one recap

True Detective: Night Country (Sky)
Jodie Foster stars as detective Liz Danvers in True Detective: Night Country, who is tasked with the case of the disappearance of eight men from a research station. (Sky)

The episode opens on 17 December, the last sunset of the year in Alaska, where a hunter watches a caribou herd suddenly begin acting strangely before launching themselves off a cliff. At the same time at the Tsalal research station, the scientists there continue with their daily lives until one of their members suddenly appears, shakes uncontrollably and warns that "she's awake" — at which point the lights suddenly shut off.

Read more: Everything you need to know about True Detective: Night Country

Three days later, a delivery man arrives at the research station and discovers that the researchers are all missing, with everything seemingly left as it was when viewers last saw the men. Upon investigating further, the deliveryman sees a distant figure running away and also finds a severed tongue.

It is then that viewers are introduced to Evangeline Navarro, a state trooper who is called in for a disturbance at a food factory where a man was knocked unconscious after hitting a woman. Navarro, a fierce advocate for women who suffer domestic abuse, arrests the man after he wakes up and threatens the woman for a second time.

Kali Reis as Evangeline Navarro in True Detective: Night Country (Sky)
Kali Reis as Evangeline Navarro, a state trooper who was transferred over her actions in trying to solve a murder case gone cold - one that seems to have links to the disappearance. (Sky)

Then the story joins Liz Danvers as she heads to the research station and begins her investigation with fellow detectives Peter Prior (Finn Bennett) and his father Hank Prior (John Hawkes). We learn who the men were that disappeared and how their research focused on discovering the origin of life. They all seemed to vanish without a trace, and Danvers comes across a hastily scrawled message saying "we are all dead".

Danvers determines that the men have been missing for several days, and as they are already "late to the party" they need to investigate quickly. She also confirms that the tongue left on the floor appears to be from a Native American woman, and when she arrives at the police station she is met with Navarro who wants to know more about the tongue that was found.

The trooper believes that the disappearance is related to an old case of hers, the murder of Annie Kowtok who was stabbed 32 times and was missing a tongue — the culprit was never found and Navarro is still keen to solve the case.

True Detective: Night Country (Sky)
Liz Danvers begins to look more closely at the two cases, tasking detective Peter Prior (Finn Bennett, right) with helping her along the way. (Sky)

After a conflict with Danvers, Navarro goes to meet with Annie's brother at the local mine to share her suspicions, and ask him if Annie had any connection to the Tsalal research centre. When she was alive, Annie worked tirelessly as a midwife and also protested the devastating impact local mines was having, and continues to have, on the environment. While she had many enemies it doesn't seem like the Tsalal men are connected to her — yet.

Outside of their professional work, Danvers and Navarro also have their battles at home. For the former this is her 16-year-old daughter Leah's (Isabella Star LaBlanc) rebellious ways, and for the latter its her younger sister Julia's (Aka Niviâna) struggle with her mental health, we learn.

Danvers goes on to task the younger Prior with finding the case file for the Annie Kowtok case, which is being kept at his father's home. Meanwhile Rose Aguineau (Fiona Shaw) begins to see the spirit of a dead man named Travis who, she believes, wants to lead her somewhere and she follows him across the icy wasteland near her home.

True Detective: Night Country (Sky)
Meanwhile Rose Aguineau (Fiona Shaw) is led to the place where he bodies of the men that disappeared died, frozen in the ice with terrified expressions on their faces. (Sky)

As Danvers and Navarro dig into the Annie Kowtok cold case, and the endless night wears on, the two women begin to see strange visions, but what is key is that it leads Danvers to discover one of the Tsalal men was pictured in a coat worn by Annie — thus revealing a link between the two cases. The detective reveals the link to Navarro, suggesting that they work together moving forward.

The episode ends with it being revealed that Rose's journey onto the ice resulted in her discovering the bodies of the men who disappeared, and they were frozen in the ice with strangely fearful expressions. What it was that could have caused them to make such an expression is yet to be revealed.

True Detective: Night Country is out now on Sky Atlantic and NOW.

Watch: Trailer for True Detective: Night Country