All The Symbolism In True Detective: Night Country Explained

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Written By Sedoso Feb

The theme of having one eye is best exemplified by the one-eyed polar bear, first seen when Trooper Navarro encounters the creature while driving in episode one. Chief Danvers also has a stuffed toy version of the one-eyed polar bear that belonged to her deceased son, Holden. But that’s not the only one-eyed symbolism in “Night Country.” In episode one, Chief Danvers discovers a photo that shows their prime suspect, Raymond Clark (Owen McDonnell) wearing murder victim Annie Kowtok (Nivi Pedersen)’s jacket with a patch sewn over the shoulder tear. That patch depicts a winking smiley face — i.e. a face with one eye open. Then, there’s Otis Heiss (Klaus Tange), a local who sustained similar injuries to the scientists decades before they died and who is blind in one eye as a result. Finally, there’s Danvers’ late son himself, who in flashbacks is shown playing a game with his mother where they cover one eye and tell each other “I see you.”

On the official “Night Country” Podcast, Issa López talks about the “I see you game,” explaining it as “a reference to the fact that we see only part of what is around you,” adding, “It’s a little bit of a metaphor.” This connects to the central theme of “Night Country,” i.e. the existence or non-existence of God and/or a spiritual realm. Danvers, in her dogged rationality, consistently denies the existence of both throughout the show, while Navarro is acutely aware of something beyond material existence. This tension between the two is expressed through several other motifs in “Night Country,” but is most clearly represented by this one-eyed symbolism that suggests we’re only seeing half the story when we deny the transcendent.

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