“True Detective: Night Country” is halfway through its episodes already, with many critics considering the latest season a return to form for the anthology series. But don’t tell creator Nic Pizzolatto that, because he isn’t a fan of what new showrunner Issa López is doing this season.
CBR reports that Pizzolatto’s issues with “Night Country” stem from brief asides to the lore of the show’s acclaimed first season with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in the new episodes. There’s been passing references to “True Detective” Season 1, like a character with the same last name as McConaughey’s Rustin Cohle, or an Alaskan research station being funded by the Tuttle family. When a fan pointed out on Instagram that the fictional Louisiana family went now has ties to a remote scientific facility on the other side of the country, Pizzolatto responded succinctly, “Haha. So stupid.” Then Pizzolatto followed up with, “I certainly did not have any input on this story or anything else. Can’t blame me.”
In a word, ouch. But most critics generally disagree with Pizzolatto’s take on “Night Country,” with the series currently sitting at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s better than the 47% rating for Season 2 and 84% for Season 3, the previous two seasons Pizzolatto was involved in. It’s worth nothing that Pizzolatto is not connected creatively with “Night Country” at all beyond an executive producer credit on the new season’s first episode. Some consider his absence a wise choice for the show’s future, but then again, audiences haven’t been as receptive to “Night Country” as critics. Metacritic has the show at a 4.7 audience rating halfway through its run, a decidedly average score, and well below the 9.1 rating the first season has.
But those are just aggregate numbers: what does Issa López think of Pizzolatto’s comments? “I believe that every storyteller has a very specific, peculiar, and unique relation to the stories they create, and whatever his reactions are, he’s entitled to them. That’s his prerogative,” López told Vulture. “I wrote this with profound love for the work he made and love for the people that loved it. And it is a reinvention, and it is different, and it’s done with the idea of sitting down around the fire, and [let’s] have some fun and have some feelings and have some thoughts. And anybody that wants to join is welcome.” That’s a relatively safe take on Pizzolatto’s criticism from López, but she’s not wrong. “Night Country” is its own thing, and whether its references to Season 1 add to anything substantial remains to be seen. The nods to that season’s lore could end up being just that: minor recognitions, and nothing more.
So is Nic Pizzolatto simply being an ass with his comments? It certainly looks that way. Add in the fact that Pizzolatto has never really recaptured the magic of “True Detective” Season 1 in any other project he’s done since, and this sounds like sour grapes from him. And if “Night Country” ultimately doesn’t measure up to “True Detective” Season 1, so what? It’s not as if Seasons 2 and 3 were classics either. But let’s see how “Night Country” closes out before we give final judgment to it and Pizzolatto’s comments.