The Best Season Since The First


Like Rust Cohle in season 1, season 4’s Liz Danvers is a bit of an outcast, in that everyone seems to dislike her and her particularly abrasive nature. As played by Jodie Foster, Danvers is the chief of police of Ennis, Alaska, the kind of small town where everybody knows everybody. As the season begins, it’s December, and the sun is about to set — and not rise again until after the new year. This perpetual darkness sets the mood for the season, with its chillingly cold locales that are frequently illuminated by seasonally appropriate Christmas lights (like many good filmmakers, López understands that Christmas lights look really cool on film). 

Our central mystery this time around involves a group of scientists from a research base (one that looks an awfully lot like the base from John Carpenter’s “The Thing”) who go missing. They don’t stay missing for long, though — their nude bodies are soon discovered frozen into what the characters refer to as a “corpsicle,” which makes for some truly nightmarish imagery. What happened to the men? That’s the big question of the season, and local cop Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) seems to think the mystery has something to do with a cold case involving a murdered woman. Liz and Evangeline worked together once, but now they seem to dislike each other — then again, everyone dislikes Liz, including her stepdaughter (Isabella Star LaBlanc). The only person who seems willing to put up with her is eager-to-please cop Peter Prior (Finn Bennett), who works alongside his grumpy, love-lorn father (a somewhat underutilized John Hawkes). 

Foster is predictably great here. The role isn’t what you’d call challenging, but it’s fun to watch her play such a prickly character, and much of the humor of the season arises from how Liz butts up against seemingly everyone in town. The true standout of the season, though, is Reis, a boxer-turned-actor with a killer amount of screen presence. Sure enough, despite their differences, Liz and Evangeline are soon working together, trying to crack the case, and it’s a treat to watch Foster and Reis bounce off each other as they tumble further down the rabbit hole. 

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