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True Detective: Night Country Digs Up a Connection to a Key Season 1 Clue — What Does It Mean?

True Detective: Night Country Digs Up a Connection to a Key Season 1 Clue — What Does It Mean?
True Detective: Night Country Digs Up a Connection to a Key Season 1 Clue — What Does It Mean?

HBO’s True Detective moved up to chilly Alaska for its fourth season… but it looks like it brought something along with it.

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In Sunday’s second episode of Season 4, aka True Detective: Night Country, we spotted a familiar symbol: a spiral. That symbol should ring a bell for any dedicated True Detective viewer, since it played a big role in the first season, which starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as two Louisiana cops tracking down a ritualistic killer. So how did the spiral make its way into Season 4’s mystery? And how does it connect back to Season 1?

We’re digging through all the clues and unearthing some intriguing answers — and, of course, more questions. So read on to get the scoop on how Episode 2 tied into the greater True Detective mythology and what it might mean for the rest of Night Country. Found some clues on your own? We’ll take all the help we can get: Hit the comments below to share your theories.   

When did we first see the spiral in True Detective: Night Country?

When did we first see the spiral in True Detective: Night Country?
When did we first see the spiral in True Detective: Night Country?

In the opening moments of Episode 2, Danvers and her fellow cops were examining the frozen corpses found by Rose in the frigid Alaskan night. On the forehead of one of the corpses, Danvers found… a spiral symbol.

Later, Rose asked Navarro, “Did you see that thing on his forehead?” She then used a stick to draw a spiral in the snow. Navarro replied that she’d seen the symbol before, “years ago.” Rose would only say that “it’s old, missy. Older than Ennis. Older than the ice, probably.”

What does the spiral mean in True Detective: Night Country’s mystery?

What does the spiral mean in True Detective: Night Country’s mystery?
What does the spiral mean in True Detective: Night Country’s mystery?

Actually, back in Episode 1, when Danvers was looking through autopsy photos of Annie, we saw a glimpse of a spiral-shaped tattoo on Annie’s body. Navarro pointed out the connection to Danvers with a photo in Episode 2, insisting, “It’s the same case.” Danvers brushed her off, but she hung onto the photo, and she and Peter discussed the symbol on the corpse’s forehead, with Peter noting: “No one stops to draw on their own forehead while they’re freezing to death.”

A delivery guy later told Peter that one of the scientists, Raymond Clark, had a big spiral tattooed on his chest. Danvers tracked down the tattoo artist who did it and learned that Clark got the tattoo to match Annie’s. Yep, they were involved… and yes, that was Annie’s tongue they found at the research station. So the two cases are connected after all. Plus, near the end of the episode, Danvers and Navarro checked out an abandoned trailer and found a huge spiral drawn on the ceiling.

So how does this connect to True Detective Season 1?

So how does this connect to True Detective Season 1?
So how does this connect to True Detective Season 1?

Fans will remember that the spiral was a recurring image throughout True Detective’s first season. The killer’s first victim, Dora Lange, was found with the spiral tattooed on her body, which linked her murder to a number of other deaths. The spiral was connected to the mythical supernatural being the Yellow King and a secret underground pedophile ring, and detective Rust Cohle began seeing the spiral everywhere, including in a flock of birds flying overhead. In the finale, Rust and his partner Marty Hart managed to apprehend and kill groundskeeper Errol Childress, who was responsible for Dora’s death along with several others.

Case closed, right? Well, maybe not, since that spiral is popping up again in Season 4. Does this season’s killer subscribe to the same creepy occult beliefs that led Errol to kill? Or is there an even deeper link to found here?

Are there more connections between True Detective Season 1 and Night Country?

Are there more connections between True Detective Season 1 and Night Country?
Are there more connections between True Detective Season 1 and Night Country?

There are, actually: When Rust Cohle had dinner with Marty and his family in Season 1’s first episode, he told Marty’s wife Maggie that he was born in Texas — but he grew up in Alaska! Whoa… so could we possibly see a Night Country character that has family ties to Rust? Or even a cameo from Matthew McConaughey himself, with Rust riding into town to help solve the case? (McConaughey is still credited as an executive producer on the series, we should note.) We don’t have all the answers yet… but we’re putting on our parkas and settling in for a long season.

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