Is The Spiral Symbol in True Detective Season 4 Connected to Season 1?

Image Credit: Michele K. Short/HBO

In HBO’s ‘True Detective: Night Country,’ a horrifying crime shakes the town of Ennis, which already has its fair share of trouble. When eight scientists mysteriously disappear from Tsalal Arctic Research Station, detectives Danvers and Navarro are thrown down a whirlpool where their investigation leads them to unearth some truly disturbing things, especially when it comes to the residents of the town. One of the things that makes this season even more interesting is how it uses the symbology from Season 1 to connect the stories while also exploring its own mysteries. The most curious use is of the spiral symbol that was heavily featured in Season 1. SPOILERS AHEAD

The Spiral in Season 4 is Borrowed from Season 1

Talking about ‘Night Country,’ creator Issa Lopez revealed that the fourth season references a lot of things from Season 1, and the spiral is one of them. She didn’t explicitly confirm or deny if it connects to the Yellow King cult from Season 1 (probably not to tread spoiler territory), but there is a chance that the symbols might share a similar meaning. Though, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the seasons are connected.

This isn’t the first time that the spiral symbol has been referenced outside of ‘True Detective’ Season 1. It was also referenced in the third season in relation to a pedophile ring called The Crooked Spiral, but that was just a clever Easter egg and never really factored into the main plot of Season 3. The same might be true for Season 4. The spiral might be an Easter egg and might not actually connect to the case from Season 1. However, in the case of Season 4, it plays a very important role.

With only two episodes in the series so far, the true meaning of the spiral symbol remains to be seen, but evidence shows that it might have more to do with Annie K and less with a pedophile ring. In the second episode, Danvers and Navarro discover that the spiral was on Annie’s body, but it was not made by the killer (like it happened to Dora Lange in Season 1). Annie had that tattoo, and after her death, scientist Raymond Clark (who was secretly dating Annie) also got it tattooed on his chest. The spiral takes a sinister meaning when it is found on the forehead of one of the dead scientists.

Considering that Raymond Clark is still alive, or at least not confirmed dead, he becomes more of a suspect than a victim now. Adding “she’s awake” to the tattoo, it is possible that the plot is moving towards a revenge arc, with someone, most probably Clark, taking revenge on the people responsible for Annie’s death. Perhaps he uses the tattoo to mark the victims in a final act of declaring that Annie has, in a way, won.

Then there is also the mention of Tuttle United, the company that owns the shell company that finances the NGO that funds Tsalal. The Tuttle family was involved in the pedophile cult of the Yellow King in Season 1 and was represented by the spiral symbol. While it remains to be seen whether Tuttle United in Season 4 is connected to the Tuttles in Season 1 (or if it’s just another Easter egg), there is a chance that the symbol might have something to do with the company. Because the symbol has become a symbol for pedophile rings in the ‘True Detective’ universe, the fourth season might use it along similar lines. But then, why would Annie have it tattooed on her back, considering that she was one of the good guys?

Because the fourth season brings the Native perspective into the plot, it is possible that Annie’s spiral tattoo is rooted in the meaning derived from Indigenous culture, as opposed to the pedophile rings. This gives more weight to the “revenge arc” theory, making it more probable that the spiral symbol in Season 4 has a meaning independent of Season 1.

Read More: True Detective: Why is it Called Night Country?