True Detective: Night Country Episode 2 Fixes Season 1’s Divisive Ending
“Once, there was only dark. You ask me? The light’s winning.”
Episode 2 of True Detective: Night Country features an unexpected name-drop. During one of their conversations about the recent Tsalal Research Station murders, Peter Prior (Finn Bennett), tells his boss, Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster), that he’s been looking into Tsalal’s funding. His research has led him to discover that Tsalal is funded by a shell company owned by Tuttle United. When Liz asks what Tuttle United does, Prior tells her, “Everything. I mean, glass, tech, video games, shipments, palm oils, cruise lines.”
The company has never been mentioned before in True Detective, but the name “Tuttle” should be familiar to longtime fans. While it was Errol Childress who was revealed to be behind many of the ritualistic killings of True Detective Season 1, it was further revealed that he was part of a powerful, evil cult comprised mostly of members of the dynastic Tuttle family. The season’s detectives, Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson), succeed in stopping Childress, but they don’t take down arguably the most powerful member of the Tuttle Cult: Edwin Tuttle, a Louisiana governor turned U.S. senator who denies all connections between Childress’ crimes and his family.
As far as we know, Edwin Tuttle never paid for the Tuttle Cult’s crimes. Therefore, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that he might be connected in some way to Tuttle United, the company responsible for funding Tsalal. If so, True Detective: Night Country has just added further depth to the divisive ending of the HBO series’ first season.
In the final minutes of True Detective Season 1, a still-wounded Rust tells Marty that he used to make up stories about the stars in the sky when he lived in Alaska as a child. When Marty asks him what kind of stories, Rust responds, “It’s just one story. The oldest. Light versus dark.” As they begin to walk away, Marty says that, based on the ratio of light between the stars and the night sky, it looks like “the dark has a lot more territory.” For the season’s final line, Rust remarks, “Well, once there was only dark. You ask me? The light’s winning.”
It’s a conclusion that many criticized at the time for being too sentimental for a show as nihilistic and cynical as True Detective. While it may very well be that, it’s also a fitting sentiment for True Detective Season 1 to endorse in its last moments. The season, after all, follows Marty and Rust as they spend nearly 20 years trying to find the murderers responsible for the heinous deaths of Dora Lange and numerous other women and children.
In the end, they only ensure that a few members of the cult responsible face justice, though. Several others, including Edwin Tuttle, get off scot-free. Taking that into account, Rust’s final line makes a lot of sense. It’s an acknowledgment that, while the eradication of evil is impossible, smaller victories can still be won.
By bringing the Tuttle name into its own story, True Detective: Night Country has suggested that the Louisiana-based family is still not only around, but also able to spread its corrosive influence to even the most remote corners of the world. Darkness — it’s still got a lot of territory.
Much like Rust and Marty weren’t able to expose the full scope of the Tuttle Cult’s crimes, it’s unlikely that Liz Danvers, Peter Prior, and Evangeline Nevarro (Kali Reis) will be able to take down Tuttle United for whatever likely offenses it has committed via its funding of Tsalal. Like Rust and Marty did with Errol Childress, though, they can stop whatever’s going on in their desolate town of Ennis, Alaska. A small victory can still be won.
Either way, Night Country’s reintroduction of the evil force responsible for many of True Detective Season 1’s crimes has allowed it to prove just how right Rust Cohle ultimately was. Ten years later, his final monologue seems less like a jarring injection of saccharine sentiment into an acidic pool, and more like a guiding mission statement for True Detective at large.
New episodes of True Detective: Night Country premiere Sundays on HBO.
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