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

The anthology series' new season premieres on Sky and NOW on 15 January

Kali Reis as Evangeline Navarro & Jodie Foster as Liz Danvers in True Detective: Night Country. (HBO/Sky)
Kali Reis as Evangeline Navarro and Jodie Foster as Liz Danvers in True Detective: Night Country. (HBO/Sky)

When True Detective first premiered in 2014 it redefined what a crime drama could be, and the HBO series has been trying to recapture that lightning in a bottle ever since. Now, with the release of its fourth season, it has.

The newest chapter of True Detective stars Jodie Foster and Kali Reis as detectives Liz Danvers and Evangeline Navarro who reluctantly team up to investigate the disappearance of eight men from a research station in the fictional town of Ennis, Alaska. But as the pair delve deeper into the puzzling mystery they soon realise it has ties to a cold case that Navarro is still haunted by, the murder of a young indigenous woman named Annie Kowtok.

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

The subtitle Night Country is aptly used in the show as it opens on the first day of endless night, a period of time where the sun does not rise in the Alaskan town and brings with it all sorts of chilling repercussions. A lot can hide in the dark, and it's not just the lack of light that is keeping everyone on edge as several people in the town, Navarro and Danvers included, begin to be plagued by terrifying visions.

Jodie Foster as Liz Danvers & Kali Reis as Evangeline Navarro in True Detective: Night Country. (HBO/Sky)
True Detective: Night Country sees its characters investigate the mysterious disappearance of eight men from a research station. (HBO/Sky)

Season one of True Detective drew viewers in with its thrilling story and the magnetic chemistry between its leads, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, and season four benefits from the same thing as Foster and Reis make incredible scene partners in this dark and gritty story. Their characters are full of rage and their flaws are laid bare for all to see, but despite the hardships they've faced they're not broken and the narrative does well to depict them in an honest and raw way.

Read more: What to watch on Sky and NOW in January 2024

Foster and Reis lean into the complexities of their characters, exploring their faults without allowing their portrayals to be ruled by them. Issa López —who both writes, directs and acts as showrunner for the season— has created fascinating characters in Danvers and Navarro and the expert way she has written both is elevated to new heights by the actors playing them.

True Detective: Night Country (Sky)
Jodie Foster and Kali Reis make incredible scene partners in this dark and gritty story True Detective: Night Country. (Sky/HBO)

What other critics thought of True Detective: Night Country:

Evening Standard: Jodie Foster is electric on her first return to TV in 50 years (3-min read)

The Telegraph: A nerve-shredding reminder of what TV drama can achieve (3-min read)

The actors are also joined by a stellar supporting cast which includes the likes of Christopher Eccleston, as Danvers' boss Ted Corsaro, John Hawkes as detective Hank Prior, Finn Bennet as his son and fellow cop Peter, and Fiona Shaw as the prophetic Rose Aguineau. Each bring their A-game to the show, making their characters fascinating to watch no matter how small the role.

True Detective: Night Country has a knack of getting under your skin, exploring places that will unsettle viewers but will keep them on the edge of their seat from the moment they press play. It is a visually striking piece, with the supernatural happenings forcing the characters (and indeed the audience) to question what is real or not onscreen.

True Detective: Night Country (Sky)
Finn Bennet and John Hawkes in True Detective: Night Country, who are part of the show's brilliant supporting cast. (Sky)

But the show's terrifying and more gory moments also serve a thought-provoking narrative, one that doesn't shy away from tackling difficult subjects like violence against women, doing the right thing, and what it means to be a parent. The new season makes for a relentless viewing experience that brings to mind the shocks and thrills of the first and it'll keep viewers guessing until its deeply satisfying pay off.

López has picked up the mantle from creator Nic Pizzolatto with finesse and brought her unique writing to the franchise. That, combined with Foster and Reis's stunning performances, makes True Detective: Night Country an essential watch, and proves that you can in fact catch lightning in a bottle twice.

  • 📺 Where to watch True Detective: Night Country: Sky Atlantic and NOW from Monday, 15 January.

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 5/5

  • 🍿 Watch it if you liked: Silence of the Lambs, Fargo, Alaska Daily.

  • 🎭 Who's in it?: Jodie Foster, Kali Reis, Christopher Eccleston, Fiona Shaw, John Hawkes, Finn Bennet, Isabella Star LaBlanc, Aka Niviâna, Anna Lambe.

  • How long is it? Six one-hour episodes.

  • 📖 What’s it about? Following the mysterious disappearance of eight men from a research station, detectives Liz Danvers and Evangeline Navarro team up to investigate their whereabouts but soon find themselves drawn into a chilling mystery with dangerous consequences.

Watch the trailer for True Detective: Night Country: