True Detective: Night Country Wears Its Horror Inspirations On Its Sleeve

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Written By Sedoso Feb

The new season opens with the quote: “For we do not know what beasts the night dreams when its hours grow too long for even God to be awake.” While this quote does not belong to any existing literary work and acts as a prologue to the perpetual darkness that envelops the dark secrets that fester in Ennis, it is attributed to someone named Hildred Castaigne. Castaigne doesn’t exist, as he is the protagonist of the short story, “The Repairer of Reputations” from Robert W. Chambers’ 1895 weird fiction collection, “The King in Yellow.” Yes, Chambers’ book sounds familiar, as it is the direct basis for season 1’s Yellow King, whose identity is still shrouded in mysterious symbolism and remains one of the most compelling aspects of the original’s season finale to date.

This begs the question, how does “The Repairer of Reputations” tie symbolically to “Night Country”? Castaigne’s defining characteristic is his unhinged obsession with the fictional play, “The King in Yellow,” which drives readers to the point of madness within the story, and appears in several shorts in Chambers’ 1895 anthology. The connection here is not Castaigne himself, but the opening of “Repairer of Reputations,” which quotes excerpts from the maligned play, and describes the otherworldly city of Carcosa, with its twin sunken suns and black stars that submerge the space in strange shadows.

Carcosa was the ruins in the bayou where the Tuttles engaged in sadistic ritual abuse of children, and Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) encountered a cosmic vortex there while noticing a shrine to the Yellow King. However, in “Night Country,” Ennis is likened to Carcosa in Chambers’ work, where its bleak strangeness isolates itself from the world, as it emits an eerily supernatural sheen.

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