True Detective: The End of the Land of Night, explained

Michele K. Short / HBO

Warning: This article contains spoilers for True Detective: Land of Night end.

For the last six weeks, heroes True Detective: Land of Night has been feverishly investigating two ongoing mysteries: The recent death of almost the entire scientific team at the Tsalal Research Station and the brutal murder of Annie Kowtok (Nivi Pedersen) that has been going on for years.

In the series finale, detectives Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) and Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) end up trapped in Tsalal in the middle of a snowstorm and experience more than a few strange things there. However, in the end, Liz and Navarro discover what really happened to Annie K. and the scientists at the seemingly harmless Tsalal Research Station.

Who killed Annie Kowtok?

Raymond Clark wears a pink jacket in True Detective: Night Country.

After searching through the ice caves around Ennis, Alaska (i.e., the Land of Night), Navarro and Liz discover that they lead back to an underground laboratory beneath the Tsalal Research Station. They eventually catch Annie K.’s ex-boyfriend, Raymond Clark (Owen McDonnell), who has been secretly hiding in Tsalal and his underground laboratory since his fellow scientist died. The duo tie him to a chair and demand that he tell them what happened to Annie K. and what happened the night scientist Tslala was taken to the ice.

After a bit of psychological torture, Clark reveals that he and his fellow scientists actually did it is digging through the ice around Ennis to extract the DNA of microorganisms frozen in the region’s permafrost that could “save the world.” Scientists realized that they could also do this, but only if pollutants from the Silver Sky mining plant continued to heat up and soften the ice sheet itself. Tsalal’s team then began pushing for the mine to increase its pollution levels – a decision that has wreaked havoc on the lives of Ennis residents. Annie, an environmental activist, not only discovers what Clark and Co. are doing, but also discovers their underground laboratory.

In a fit of rage, he violently destroys all the materials they collected, which results in him being captured and attacked by Anders Lund (Þorsteinn Bachmann), who stabs him multiple times with a star-tipped tool from the laboratory. While Clark briefly tries to save Annie, he ultimately relents, watches as Lund and the other Tsalal scientists brutally attack her, and ultimately kills him himself. After their murder, the scientists ask Silver Sky to clean up their mess for them. In response, Silver Sky sends the decidedly not-so-great Hank Prior (John Hawkes) to relocate Annie’s body.

Who killed scientist Tsalal?

Two women wear hairnets in True Detective: Night Country.

Raymond Clark believes that his fellow scientists were murdered by the spirits of the Land of Night itself. But he’s not right. After Navarro and Liz find a distinctive fingerprint on the hatch leading to Tsalal’s underground laboratory, they realize it is Blair Hartman (Kathryn Wilder), the woman Navarro helped protect from her abusive partner in Land of the Nightfirst episode, perhaps knowing more about what happened to the station’s scientists than he let on. When they visit her home, they encounter not only Blair but also her fierce protector and co-worker, Bee (Diane E. Benson).

In his dining room, Bee explains that he discovered Tsalal’s underground laboratory while he was cleaning the station one day. When he goes down to investigate, he finds a tool capable of creating puncture marks similar to those found on Annie’s body. Realizing that scientist Tsalal must have something to do with Annie’s murder, she and many of Ennis’s other cleaning ladies and blue collar workers attack the station. In a series of flashbacks, we see Bee, Blair, and many of the other women who were present in the background of so many scenes throughout Land of the Night turns off Tsalal’s power and loads his scientists into the back of a delivery truck at gunpoint.

Bee reveals that it was he and his co-workers who forced the Tsalal people to take off their clothes and walk onto the icy expanses around Ennis. When those people didn’t survive, he guessed it was the Land of Night has done wanting to accept them for what they did to Annie. Liz, in response to hearing all this, announces that she will publicly stick to Ted Connelly’s (Christopher Eccleston) story that the Tsalal scientists were killed in a freak avalanche — clearing Bee, Blair, and their co-conspirators of any suspicion. When Navarro later asked Bee if he left Annie’s severed tongue in Tsalal so the police could find it, he replied that he did not. It’s a small moment, but it opens up the possibility that something supernatural is indeed interested in making Navarro and Liz restart their investigation into Annie’s murder.

What happened to Liz and Navarro?

Evangeline Navarro and Liz Danvers stare at each other in True Detective: Night Country.
Michele K. Short / HBO

During their impromptu visit to Tsalal, Liz and Navarro solve two mysteries that have plagued them all season and also experience an unexpected moment of emotional catharsis. Navarro reached out through his supernatural visions and encountered a spirit that seemed to offer him, more than anything else, the peace he had sought all his life. Liz, meanwhile, begins to accept her son’s death years earlier after Navarro gave her a message from his ghost.

In Land of the Night Final epilogue, viewers learn that Hank’s body was never found and that Navarro left the Ennis police force and the public eye after he and Liz solved their Tsalal and Annie K. case. When he does, he leaves behind a tape of Clark’s confession to Liz detailing all the damage the Tsalal and Silver Sky mines did to Ennis, which Liz leaks to the public. The mine closes shortly thereafter, and a series of brief scenes show that not only has Peter Prior’s (Finn Bennett) relationship with his wife and son completely healed in the months since their family unit was nearly torn apart, but also Liz’s bond with her stepdaughter, Leah (Isabella LaBlanc), is also starting to improve.

True Detective: Land of Night | Official Trailer | Max

True Detective: Land of Night then ends with Liz answering a question about Navarro’s disappearance by saying, “This is Ennis. No one is really leaving.” His comment was accompanied by a photo of him and Navarro enjoying a quiet moment together at the lake. The picture brings Land of the Nightlike most people Real detective previous season, returning one final time to the relationship at the heart of the story. More importantly, the end of this season proves that even the darkest period in a person’s life can be overcome, as long as they are willing to truly face themselves and their past.

True Detective: Land of Night episodes 1-6 are streaming now on Max.

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