It Starts On The Page: Read ‘True Detective: Night Country’ Finale Script “Part 6” By Issa López

Editor’s note: Deadline’s It Starts on the Page features standout limited or anthology series scripts in 2024 Emmy contention.

HBO’s True Detective came back after a five-year break with the franchise’s first female protagonists, played by Jodie Foster and Kali Reis, and its first female creator, Season 4’s writer, director, executive producer and showrunner Issa López.

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When it came time to wrap True Detective: Night Country‘s mystery about the murder of the eight men from the Tsalal Arctic Research Station, López made a provocative decision about the fate of Evangeline Navarro (Reis) who went on walkabout on the ice that may – or may not – have resulted in her death.

“I very carefully crafted this as an ink block test for you to discover yourself as an audience member,” she told Deadline in February.

Below is the script for the Night County finale, written and directed by López, which drew season-high viewership to wrap the most watched season of the True Detective anthology series. It is accompanied by a forward by López, in which she opens up about Night Country’s pandemic origins, choice of setting and subject matter, and crafting a winning finale.

There’s one initial, primordial question I ask myself when the time to write comes. The real time to write. The grab your coffee, sit down, open Final Draft, silence the phone, this is it, you have a damned deadline-time. That question, and I’m sure every storyteller starts there in their own fashion, is: What is this story about. REALLY about.

Yes, sure, it’s a murder mystery, or a coming of age, or a space opera… but what are we really saying here? Beyond the toys and the tools and the genres. What is it, behind all of that?

Often, you don’t know. And you won’t know until way, way later. When almost done, or sometimes completely done with the first pass. Often you are just listening to your own words. Reading the scenes you wrote the day before. You may think it’s about this, or that… but then it hits you. Oh, this is it, right here. This is really the story that matters here.

That was not the case with Night Country. I knew from the start what it was about. The moment I knew that it was going to take place in the arctic, I knew it was about loneliness. The ways we isolate ourselves.

The story found me at the dead center of the pandemic lockdown. This massive sense of waiting permeated every thought. It connected seamlessly with the idea of the long night, full of uncertainties surrounding us. Isolating us. Going on forever.

And the moment I knew it was going to be True Detective, I knew it had to be told from the female perspective. The series had said so much about the male experience, in such depth, and so well, that it was pointless to go there again… while there was so much to be said about the women in that universe.

From the very beginning I knew that violence against women was going to be at the center of the story. And that real justice could only come through the very women who were sick of being just the victims.

Episode six, the final episode, had to deliver the final answer to that question: what is this story really about.

So the mission was understanding how to come out on the other side of the night to find that we are not as alone as it can feel sometimes, and understanding that healing comes only from standing together, for ourselves.

The challenge, obviously, was to deliver such a gossamery principle through a climatic action thriller. Easier said than done.

It took many, many drafts… but still, somehow, it remained the same, in essence.
It’s all about coming out of the dark. Together.

Click below to read the script.

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