Is Travis Cohle from Night Country the father of Rust Cohle from True Detective season 1?

Almost certainly
"I know who I am, and after all these years, there is a victory in that"
"I know who I am, and after all these years, there is a victory in that" / Void Notice

Apart from sharing a similar spooky tone, the first three seasons of True Detective didn't share characters or plotlines in common. First Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson solved a mysterious murder in Louisiana, then Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams solved a mysterious murder in California, then Mahershala Ali solved a mysterious murder in the Ozarks, and now Jodie Foster and Kali Reis are solving a mysterious murder in the fictional town of Ennis, Alaska.

How do you keep things fresh after so many turns of the wheel? Well, what about featuring a character on the new season who links back to an old one, a first for a series that has never mixed the streams before? That's almost certainly what's happening with Travis Cohle, a former lover of an old woman named Rose, who lives on the outskirts of Ennis. Travis has been dead for years -- we learn in the newest episode that he walked out onto the ice rather than die a slow death from leukemia -- but he still visits Rose sometimes, and even leads her out onto the ice at the end of Episode 1 to reveal the location of a group of dead scientists from the Tsalal Arctic Research Station. How did they end up dead? Stay tuned.

As for Travis Cohle, he's almost certainlty the father of Rustin Cohle, Matthew McConaughey's character from True Detective season 1. In that season, Rust mentioned that his dad was a survivalist who lived in Alaska and that he had leukemia. In the newest episode, we learn that they share a last name. Plus, Rust and Travis share a certain wild-eyed, stringy-haired intensity.

Moreover, Night Country writer-director Issa López has said that the character of Travis "comes directly from the mythology of the first season." To me, there are too many signs to ignore. Travis is definitely Rust's father. And if he isn't, it will be a fakeout, because that's clearly where the show is leading us.

More references to True Detective season 1: Spirals and The King in Yellow

Night Country is actually packing in lots of references to True Detective season 1. There's also the matter of the spiral. A spiral pattern is carved into the head of one of the dead scientists. In the newest episode, Detective Navarro (Reis) discoverys that Clark, the head scientist, had a spiral tattooed on his chest. Annie, a native woman whose death Navarro is trying to solve, also had a spiral tattoo. Annie and Clark were apparently involved in some kind of romantic relationship.

The spiral symbol played a big part in True Detective season 1. It was on the body of Dora Lange, whose murder set off an investigation into a string of ritualistic killings in Louisiana. The spiral was a symbol of the cult behind the murders, and also of the ineffable mystery of the cosmos more generally. It showed up everywhere that season, even in the flights of birds:

We don't know if the spiral means the same thing in Night Country as it did in True Detective season 1, but the references are coming fast and thick. The season opens with a creepy quote attributed to Hildred Castaigne: "For we do not know what beasts the night dreams when its hours grow too long for even God to be awake." Hildred Castaigne is the narrator of a short story by Robert W. Chambers called “The Repairer of Reputations," the first of 10 stories in Chambers' 1895 anthology The King in Yellow. Each story is haunted by a fictional play of the same name that is said to drive readers mad by revealing truths about the universe. The play comes up several times in True Detective season 1, with the head of the cult being known as "the Yellow King."

And now a character from The King in Yellow is quoted in the opening to Night Country. However, Hildred Castaigne never actually says this in "The Repairer of Reputations." As she told Business Insider, Issa López included it as a "little wink" to fans. "I was looking for the perfect quote to talk about the things that hide in the dark and I couldn't find it. So I wrote it."

True Detective: Night Country episode 2 /

For a show that has never before mixed and matched plots, these are a lot of reference coming all at once. Hopefully Issa López and her team know what they're doing and don't cloud their vision with all this winking. Jodie Foster, Kali Reis and the rest of the cast are more than compelling enough to hold our interest on their own merits, and I wouldn't want their work to be overshadowed by the formation of the True Detective Cinematic Universe, or whatever the goal is here.

On the other hand, including some connective tissue could make the show feel more of a piece, so long as it's not unneccesarily distracting. So far, True Detective: Night Country has been a chilly, gruesome good time. I'm in to the end, and will be watching out for more references.

True Detective. "She's awake": True Detective: Night Country gets off to a spooky, snowy, samey start. dark. Next

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h/t TIME