Where and When Does True Detective Night Country Take Place?

Image Credit: Michele K. Short/HBO

HBO’s ‘True Detective: Night Country’ takes the audience through a riveting journey as a small town becomes the center of attention when some very disturbing things take place there. As two detectives try to uncover the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of eight scientists, which somehow relates to a cold case of a Native woman’s murder, their own lives and psyche start to unravel. Dark things about the town and its people come to light, all happening in the long polar night that engulfs the town. The setting itself creates a vibe that makes the entire story eerie and terrifying at times.

Night Country is Set in a Small Fictional Town

Image Credit: Michele K. Short/HBO

The fourth season of ‘True Detective’ transports the audience to the icy surroundings of Alaska, with a fictional town named Ennis becoming the stage where the entire show takes place. Another fictional location— Tsalal Arctic Research Station— becomes the origin point of the intrigue and the mystery when eight scientists stationed there disappear under unexplainable circumstances.

For creator-writer-director Issa Lopez, the setting was an important step in the fourth season, which stays true to the roots of the show but also expands the horizon by taking the audience to a place they haven’t been before in the show. In contrast to the hot, humid, and masculine energy of the first three seasons, ‘Night Country’ goes a complete 180 and offers the audience an environment that is dark, not just in the literal sense of the term.

Inspired by some fascinating stories of unsolved cases, especially the Dyatlov Pass incident, Lopez wanted to set a whodunit in a place covered entirely in snow. She also wanted to impart some mystical and supernatural aspects to the story, and the Alaskan background proved perfect for that. In making the show and the setting feel more real to the audience, she and the crew of the show heavily researched the culture, geography, cuisine, attire, and supernatural beliefs of the place, all of which were added into the details while creating the town of Ennis and the people who live in it.

Night Country Takes Place Almost Entirely in the Dark

Image Credit: Michele K. Short/HBO

The events in ‘True Detective: Night Country’ take place in contemporary times. While no particular year is designated to the events in the show, it is revealed that the story begins on the seventeenth of December, which is when the sun sets for the last time in the year and doesn’t rise again until the next year. The next couple of weeks find the town of Ennis completely enveloped in the dark as the polar night sets in. Ennis is said to be set somewhere 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle, which means that it gets a good portion of a polar night during the winters.

The show takes place during this time when the sun doesn’t rise in Ennis, and with the darkness taking over the reins, sinister things start to happen. On the day of the last sunset, eight scientists from Tsalal Arctic Research Station go missing, and the fact that they are missing is only found three days later, on December 20th. Everything is exactly as they left it— the TV is left on, the sandwich on the counter is uneaten, and the treadmill is still in the same setting. Some of them even left the phones on and ran out of battery.

The dark and the Arctic setting of Ennis allows the story to feel almost surreal at times. This is a place completely removed from the outside world. Its people “might as well be living on the Moon.” It is also where reality starts to bend and break and come apart at the seams, which allows room for the supernatural aspects of the show that add to the horror and plot in a significant way, adding more depth to the dark things that take place as well as to the darkness inside the people who call that small town home.

Read More: Is Tsalal Arctic Research Station a Real Place?