True Detective: Why Does Hank Prior Kill [Spoiler]?

Image Credit: Michele K. Short/HBO

The penultimate episode of HBO’s ‘True Detective: Night Country’ leaves the audience with a shocking ending which sets the stage for the long-awaited finale. A lot of questions are still left unanswered as detectives Danvers and Navarro make the final attempt to understand what happened to Annie K and the scientists from Tsalal. But before they embark on that journey, they lose the most important link in their investigation, someone who could have made their task a bit easier. Otis Heiss is killed by Hank Prior, but why does the latter do that? SPOILERS AHEAD

Hank Prior Didn’t Want Danvers and Navarro to Know the Truth About Annie

Hank Prior had always been a shady police officer. While his son, Peter, was the innocent, malleable young man who took his job seriously and did whatever was asked of him, his father was much more calculating than that. He wasn’t concerned with solving a crime or getting to the bottom of the truth, but he nursed his own agenda, and that is what brings him to Danvers’ doorstep in the fifth episode.

Image Credit: Michele K. Short/HBO

The fact that Prior was dirty wasn’t hidden from Danvers. He deliberately hid Annie’s file, even when Danvers asked for them specifically and repeatedly. Instead of helping the investigation along, he preferred to hamper it, and it was clear that he was on someone else’s payroll. All of the theories about him are confirmed in the fifth episode when Silver Sky Mining’s owner, Kate McKitterick, corners him and orders him to finish the job.

What bothers Kate is that despite all the hurdles in her path and the missing links in the investigation, Danvers showed no sign of stopping when it came to Annie K’s case. Kate is even more alarmed when she discovers that Danvers and Navarro tried to get into the ice caves where Annie was murdered. This means they have gotten very close to the truth, and Kate cannot afford it because it would ruin her and the mining company. When Annie died, Kate told Hank to keep things such that Navarro never found the killer. Hank does his part rather well. He holds back key information, like the fact that Annie was dating Raymond Clarke, and later removes Navarro from the case altogether.

All of that should have been fine, but then, six years later, the scientists died, and that opened a whole other Pandora’s box, and for the detectives, it all boiled down to what happened to Annie. Kate figured that if Danvers and Navarro knew about the caves and the entrance, then they must have Otis Heiss, the engineer who was put in charge of mapping the caves and himself, who went through a harrowing experience in the ice that changed him forever. He had remained off the grid for so long that no one bothered about him. But now that Danvers had found him and he was clean, it was obvious that he would be employed to enter the caves and know more about them and their connection to Annie’s death.

All of this threatened to blow the lid off of Silver Sky, and Kate couldn’t have that. She tells Hank to stop Danvers by any means possible. This means that he has the green light to kill her, but he doesn’t go about it so easily. He knows that Otis Heiss is the main link here, and should he get Heiss out of the equation, he wouldn’t have to kill Danvers anymore. With this intention, he arrives at Danvers house and reveals his intention to arrest Otis Heiss.

By now, Danvers has an inkling of who Hank works for, and she tries to diffuse the situation. But then, Hank gets his hands on her gun, and at this point, everyone knows how it will turn out. Otis, who’d moments ago had heroin, is rattled to find Hank with the gun and tries to run away. Before he can get to the door, Hank shoots him in the chest. Having done that, he figures that he should just kill Otis now and fires another shot, which gets Otis on his chest, and the man dies on the spot, leaving Hank to finish the rest of the job and fulfill the wishes of the people who have had him under their thumb all this time.

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