Despite its excellent horror underpinnings, it’s still possible that “True Detective: Night Country” could turn out to be a dark story about deeply human crimes. After all, the season opens up with a simple cause-and-effect scenario: an abuser tries to hit a woman, so her friend hits him with a bucket. As complex as all the details of the case may be, the show’s themes are simple, and Occam’s razor suggests a human explanation could be responsible for everything we’ve seen. Hatred — mostly towards women and Indigenous people — drives violence in Ennis, and untreated mental illness breeds suffering among those who keep living. The lack of sunlight, meanwhile, allows every awful thing to fester.
Someone could have killed Annie for being an outspoken activist, and someone could have killed the scientists as a result of addiction, mental illness, or rage, because they saw something they shouldn’t have, or as punishment for some misdeeds that haven’t come to light yet. There’s also environmental racism to consider; the mines are clearly doing damage to the area, poisoning the water supply, and causing other disruptions to the lives of the locals. Yet whoever put the mining camp there knew that a small town full of people who, due to geography, racial identity, income level, and more, would likely be ignored (or hurt) if they spoke up for their right to a safe community. “True Detective” season 4 may technically be about the murder of scientists and an activist, but it also seems to be about the slow, painful death of a whole town. It’s bleak, sure, but that’s kind of this show’s whole thing.