What Makes Night Country a True Detective Story

True Detective: Night Country showrunner Issa López and star Jodie Foster reveal the icy inspirations behind season 4.

Kali Reis and Jodie Foster in True Detective: Night Country
Photo: Michele K. Short | HBO

Through its first three seasons, HBO crime anthology True Detective liked to flirt with the occult. From Rust Cohle’s (Matthew McConaughey) otherworldly hallucinations in season 1 to the mystic hills of the Ozarks in season 3, the series frequently left the door open for realities beyond our own. Time is a flat circle, after all.

It’s only fitting then that True Detective season 4, subtitled True Detective: Night Country, has similarly cosmic origins. The season, which stars Jodie Foster and Kali Reis as detectives investigating mysterious disappearances during the perpetual night of winter in Northwest Alaska, came together in a kismet fashion. In a pre-season conversation with journalists, Night Country writer, director, and producer Issa López discussed how she was already working on a very True Detective-esque script before she got an actual True Detective call from HBO.

“I had put a bunch of ideas on a pot to cook and one of them was a modern Western on the ice. It was the idea of a murder mystery with a couple of characters. That preceded the call from HBO asking ‘what would you do with True Detective?’” López says. “I don’t think that happened by chance, you know. I think there was a reason I was already thinking in these terms.”

Up until now, True Detective has been the singular vision of its creator Nic Pizzolatto, who wrote or co-wrote every episode of the first three seasons. When Pizzolatto signed a deal with FX Productions in 2020, however, it left the future of HBO’s hit up in the air. Enter López: a visionary Mexican filmmaker best known for her 2017 feature Tigers Are Not Afraid.


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