March 5, 2024

True Detective has always been a show full of strange symbols and half-hidden clues, and it looks like Night Country will be no exception.

Putting aside the spirals and the Lost-style polar bear sightings, though, there’s that Billie Eilish-backed opening sequence. As always with Nic Pizzolatto’s show, the opener features a jumble of imagery that’s relevant to the series, this time themed around an appropriately dark and snowy drive along a rural road as Eilish’s 2019 atmospheric hit “bury a friend” plays.

So, while we’re thinking over our post-ep burning questions, let’s break down those images. What glimpses do we get in those 90 seconds, and how might they be relevant to the story?

True Detective: Night Country‘s opening sequence: Possible clues

A full bathtub.

This is the first thing we see at the side of that snowy road, and it’s got a dark liquid sloshing around inside it. Water or blood? Like many of the things on this list, it’s tricky to know if the tub is a sign of something to come – does someone die in a bath, for instance? – or just a metaphor for something.

An orange

There’s an orange rolling along the road! That’s a bit odd, isn’t it? The same orange pops back up in peel form later on in the sequence, floating underwater. We’re filing this one under “may be significant further down the line.”

A stuffed polar bear with one eye sitting on a rocking chair, and a real polar bear with one eye.

One-eyed polar bears are a bit of a theme here, aren’t they? In episode 1, Chief Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) finds a stuffed toy version in her house that she seems to connect with an unsettling memory, while Detective Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) sees a real-looking polar bear while driving through town. You can see both in the opening credits.

Dead, frozen figures emerging from the ice.

These are presumably the same dead figures we glimpse at the end of the first episode.

A Tsalal Arctic Research Station sign reading “operation in progress”.

The Tsalal Arctic Research Station is the show’s first main setting — the place where Danvers begins her investigation into a team of missing scientists. The rest of the episode takes place around the fictional Alaskan town of Ennis, but the research station’s mention in the main credits (plus the fact the station itself is shown) could mean it has a larger part to play.

Nothing creepier than an abandoned research station.
Credit: Michele K. Short/HBO

A woman sinking under the ice.

Foreshadowing for something that will happen in the show, or just a metaphor? Tricky to say at this stage, but we can hazard a guess as to who the woman is — she’s wearing a coat with an APF (Alaska Police Force) patch on the shoulder, so it seems likely she’s with the police. Danvers?

A deer skull floating underwater.

Could this be a reference to the poor animals that go thundering off the edge of that ice cliff in episode 1’s very first scene, seemingly driven to madness by the oncoming long night?

Bloody clothes on a washing line.

It’s difficult to say exactly what this image means, but washing bloody clothes could be a reference to trying to clean up a crime scene.

A smashed car windscreen.

We see a brief shot through a splintered windscreen of a house with a car beside it. There’s not much we can glean from the house, but the broken windscreen could be significant. Will one of the characters get in a car accident on the snowy roads? Or have they had an accident in the past?

Lots of tubes stacked on shelves.

These are the cylindrical tubes that Danvers finds at the research station. Perhaps the research being undertaken by the scientists will be significant down the line?

Grave markers.

Shortly after the evidence tubes we see multiple crucifixes with dates marked on each. These are presumably graves, but the real striking detail is the date: Each cross is marked with the year 2023.

A protest sign.

We see a brief glimpse of two protest signs in one shot, and the phrase “protect our water” is clear on one. Ennis is clearly in the midst of an environmental struggle.

The laboratory is a key location.
Credit: Michele K. Short/HBO

A laboratory.

Presumably this is part of the Tsalal Arctic Research Station.

A curved archway on the side of the road.

Are those…bones?

A deer.

There’s a deer with glowing eyes! Could this be the living version of the poor beast whose remains are floating underwater?

Orange peel floating underwater.

We’ll put this in the “one-eyed stuffed bear” category, in that it’s presumably something that will have greater significance further down the line.

A circular hatch floating underwater.

No idea, but it seems likely this is connected to the research station.

The inside of an ice cave.

One of the final shots is a quick trip through an icy, underground tunnel, shown after a quick flash of skeletons embedded in the ice. A real location in the show, or just an atmospheric tracking shot? Like many of the potential clues on this list, we’ll have to wait to find out…

How to watch: True Detective airs Sunday nights on HBO/Max at 9 p.m ET/PT.