‘True Detective’ Season 4, Episode 3 Recap: Toxicity

The discomfort for Navarro is more acute, given her roots, but there is a lot of evidence in this episode that Danvers has been fighting her own conscience — and is perhaps starting to lose the battle. She rages at Leah to wipe the temporary tattoo marks off her face, perhaps as a protective instinct, but they’re on Annie’s face, too, and the weight of it seems to stir her sympathies.

Meanwhile, the law is being administered much less delicately. It is a sharp narrative strategy to cut from the flashback with Navarro and Annie to a scene in which Hank is rounding up a civilian army to “search” for Raymond Clark, the missing scientist who had a secret affair with Annie. The term “search” is in scare quotes because Hank seems to have deliberately gathered a collection of armed-to-the-teeth yokels for a bounty hunt. He tells them that Clark is armed and dangerous and sends them on their way. When Navarro turns up to remind Hank that they want Clark alive, he replies, “Do we?”

For you couch sleuths at home, Hank’s cavalier remarks are worth scrubbing in your notepad. Whatever ties Clark, the dead scientists and Annie together, there seems to be some fear over what might be dredged up about the mine, and Hank appears to be hiding something. More revelations emerge later when Danvers and Navarro are picking through photographs found at Clark’s cabin, notice the blue streaks in Annie’s hair and conclude that her hairdresser, Susan, may have known more than she disclosed at the time. When Navarro questions the hairdresser at her home, she admits to having taken Annie with her to do haircuts at the research station, where Annie hit it off with Clark.

Susan gives Navarro three important pieces of information: Clark was fixated on Annie’s tattoo (“She dreamt it. In high school. Lots of times. When she got the tattoo, the dreams stopped.”); there was another worker at the lab, Oliver, who left shortly before Annie was killed; and Susan did tell the police about Clark, but nobody followed up.

Navarro is furious to discover that Hank was the officer who failed to pass that information along, and she is doubly furious when Danvers lets him go without a sharper reprimand. Danvers tells him to dismiss his “hillbilly friends” from the search, but there are no other consequences for him. She even shrugs off being called “Mrs. Robinson” in reference to Hank’s son, which only earns a drink in the face as a reprimand.

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