Criminal logo

Review of 'True Detective' 4.1-4.3

Alaska, With A Touch of Science Fiction

By Paul LevinsonPublished 3 months ago 3 min read

True Detective is back with its fourth season. So far, as of the first three episodes, it's quite good. Not as brilliant as the first season, which was a masterpiece, but at least as good as the second and third seasons, each in their own way memorable. And this fourth season has something which is always especially appealing to me, a touch of science fiction.

The crime involves the disappearance of eight scientists from the fictional Tsalal Research Station in Alaska. In the second episode, it's briefly noted that those scientists were trying to sequence the DNA of an extinct microorganism that could have enormous health benefits for we humans, stopping "cellular decay," "curing cancer, autoimmune diseases, genetic disorders, an absolute fucking game-changer." This sure sounds like some welcome science fiction to me. It's also something that harkens back at least a little to the not-bad Helix series, which had two seasons on the SyFy Channel back in 2014-2015

The placement in Alaska also calls forth recollections of all kinds of movies and TV series, ranging from the superb Christopher Nolan 2002 Insomnia with Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank (what a cast!) to the 2022 ABC-TV series Alaska Daily, also starring Hilary Swank, which was wisely cancelled after one season (I stopped watching it after three episodes).

I've been glued to screen of this season of True Detective, on HBO Max. In Insomnia, the sun never left the sky as Pacino's Detective Will Dormer struggles to investigate a murder way up north without getting a decent night's sleep. In True Detective, detectives Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) and Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) struggle to solve the crime in just the reverse situation in which the sun in late December never rises in Alaska. It's great to see Foster back on the screen, she hasn't lost a beat. This is the first time I recall seeing Reis, and she's putting in a strong performance, too. The supporting cast is good, as well, with Finn Bennett as Peter Prior the rookie cop and Isabella LeBlanc as Danver's daughter Leah especially notable. I also for some reason liked the brief appearance of Donnie Keshawarz as James Bryce, the high school teacher and Danver's former lover, maybe because he delivered the incredible news about what the DNA from the extinct microorganism could do.

The key to the incandescence of the first season was the chemistry between the two detective partners, played Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. McConaughey's Detective Rust Cohle (great name!) and Harrelson's Detective Marty Hart complemented each other perfectly, making up for each other's deficits and problems. This fourth season of True Detective starts with just the opposite of that between Danvers and Navarro. They have a history, which we gradually learn about, which nearly makes them enemies, and they have to bury the hatchet, at least temporarily, and combine their expertise to work this case.

Like all the seasons of True Detective, there's a degree of gore which I could live without in a TV series or a movie. I've seen enough of the naked dead bodies of the scientists in the ice, and am glad they're thawing out and will soon be amenable for autopsies. Related to this, there's also an element of mystical horror, which was a prominent element of the first season, which is not my cup of tea, either. But the science fictional element, the mere possibility of stopping cellular decay, more than makes up for that in this fourth season, and I'm very much looking forward to the rest.

And ... hey, I didn't even have to warn you about spoilers.

another mix of crime and science fiction ... read it here

tv review

About the Creator

Paul Levinson

Novels The Silk Code & The Plot To Save Socrates; LPs Twice Upon A Rhyme & Welcome Up; nonfiction The Soft Edge & Digital McLuhan, translated into 15 languages. Best-known short story: The Chronology Protection Case; Prof, Fordham Univ.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.