The end of 'True Detective: Polar Night' and what its creator has to say about it

The cosmic element was present throughout the entire season of True Detective: Polar Night.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
19 February 2024 Monday 10:39
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The end of 'True Detective: Polar Night' and what its creator has to say about it

The cosmic element was present throughout the entire season of True Detective: Polar Night. The writer and director Issa López wanted to be faithful to the formula of Nic Pizzolatto, the creator of the original series, in the structure, the themes and the tone. What she did do was articulate a story with a more feminine and feminist perspective with the introduction of two female detectives played by Jodie Foster and Kali Reis, and a case that until the last moment was consistent with this point of view.

Anyone who has not seen the complete season of True Detective: Polar Night, which ended its broadcast on HBO Max and Movistar Plus this Monday, better not continue reading because details of the outcome will be revealed. And, whoever wants the initial review of the season without spoilers, can read it here.

The series had two cases going on that it had to solve. On the one hand, it was time to explain why the scientists at a station in northern Alaska had gone out at night and stripped naked in the middle of the snow until almost all of them died. Was it a murder case? Was it a supernatural issue related to the beliefs of the natives, the Iñupiaq? On the other, the bloody murder of Annie, a local girl, had to be solved after detectives Danvers (Jodie Foster) and Navarro (Kali Reis) became angry in the past over their inability to find answers.

Luckily, True Detective viewers were able to learn the truth. Annie, who had a relationship with Clark, one of the scientists, was murdered by her lover's colleagues with Clark as an accomplice. She discovered that they were writing false reports about the local mining company's pollution rates, contributing to making her community sick. They were not altered so much because they received financing from the company as because the melting of ice caused by the mine helped them with the experiment they were carrying out. After destroying the scientists' work, they murdered her in a fit of rage to protect her work.

And, while Clark hid behind the hatch underground believing Annie's ghost had come to the station to deliver justice at the start of the longest night of the year, the scientists weren't necessarily killed by supernatural forces. The murderers were the cleaning women and their female support network after realizing while cleaning what had happened in the laboratory.

They were the ones who cut off the electricity, entered the research station, took the victims out into the snow during a storm, forced them to strip naked at gunpoint, and left them there to die. Issa López, therefore, it can be said that she wrote a resolution based on sorority and with a forceful racial, feminist and class perspective.

The ending, in terms of the protagonists, also had consequences. Danvers unexpectedly found a sense of confidence that had been stripped away by the experience. Officer Prior (Finn Bennett) cut his teeth as a good person but shady cop by having to murder his father and hide any evidence of it. And Navarro, after solving Annie's crime, let himself be carried away by the voices, walking on the ice like his sister did. Can you believe, then, that the character of Kali Reis dies?

“I'm not saying she's alive, but I'm certainly not saying she's dead,” López explained to the Deadline portal after the season finale of True Detective. Her intention as a scriptwriter and creator is for the viewer to discover what kind of person she is based on how she interprets this ending. This action by Navarro is consistent with “her impulse to leave everything behind” and the perennial sensation of being “called from beyond.” Everyone can interpret the ending however they want: as death, as her destiny to unite with women like her sister in that Beyond, or even imagine that she survives in some way.

For this reason, when saying goodbye to True Detective with Danvers and Navarro on a porch, he also does not want to clarify if Navarro is in a spiritual or ghostly way, if he is there as a memory of Danvers, or what. “If the returning Navarro is her spirit, there is something beautiful and poetic about it: she is a spirit that is at peace, not like the apparitions she saw before. And if it is the Navarro who went for a walk and came back to be with her friend, it is also beautiful,” he explained to Variety.

This supernatural aspect is also present in the murder of the scientists. He hinted all season that they may have been victims of forces not of this world, and against all odds, the women who chilled them were flesh and blood. “They put those men out in the arctic. “It is easy to think that they died from exposure and, as they were dying of cold, they went into a state of panic and became delirious,” he maintains. So there is a rational explanation.

López, however, raises another option. “His clothes were there in case they wanted to go back and try to survive. But they never came back for the clothes. Did they find something there that they woke up while they were digging in places where they shouldn't be digging?” His idea, being faithful to the cosmic cabals of the characters (which are in the DNA of True Detective since Matthew McConaughey became nihilistic in the initial season), was to leave the door open to a possibility more based on the extraterrestrial and on the spectator's faith.

And, finally, one last question. Annie's tongue, which, as theorized in the series, could have been cut out by Captain Prior (John Hawkes) when he was tasked with disposing of the woman's body. But why was she at the crime scene? The most rational explanation, according to López, is that the women of Ennis found the language and kept it as a sign of respect.

“Danvers says in the second episode that the tongue has some unusual damage, which could be due to frostbite. And then those women arrive at the station, and they leave their tongues to show that now is the moment of truth,” he reasons. The tongue is left as a symbol that Annie will no longer be silenced. But she also has another version that, again, relies on the faith of the viewer.

“They leave Annie there, they cut out her tongue and her tongue magically disappears. And it is Annie who arrives with the women at the station, as if she were awake,” says López. It is the spirit of the deceased's way of finally telling her story.