True Detective: Night Country episode 4: More on the polar bear?

True Detective: Night Country (season 4)
Photo: HBO

As we get ourselves prepared to see True Detective: Night Country episode 4 on HBO, why not discuss the one-eyed polar bear further? We know how important this is to the overall world of this story.

Through the first three episodes, we have already seen said polar bear in a handful of different forms. At one point, it was an actual animal who was on the road alongside Navarro in the premiere. Meanwhile, we have also seen this as a stuffed animal accompanied by Holden, who seemingly died in that car accident in the past. We’ve flashed back already to Danvers’ time with the child, and in episode 3, Navarro may have come across him in a vision after falling on the ice.

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So what is this polar bear meant to represent? It is important to note here that within Inuit culture and tradition, these animals are often meant to represent strength and resilience. There is also a deity-like figure known as Nanook who can be seen as an enforcer of proper customs for hunters.

Within the world of Night Country, we tend to view the role of these bears as twofold.

1. Watchers of the land – The fact that the bear has one eye may symbolize the destruction that has already happened around Ennis with the mine and the Tsalal Research Station. Nothing is pristine or perfect. It is also worth noting that if you pause the protest scene in episode 3, one of the people alongside Leah is sporting a white eye patch. This seems to symbolize that the bear is representative of their plight. (There are also some folk stories that suggest that polar bears are actually humans who shed the skin indoors, but we’re not sure the series is taking on a full metaphor like this.)

2. A reminder of Danvers’ trauma – Remember that losing Holden is a clear, traumatic event in her life. It would make sense that this would not go away. You could say that the polar bear is a reminder for her to keep fighting, and Navarro would also be aware of her past with Holden and with that, potentially the bear, as well. This could all be buried within her subconscious.

Related Be sure to get some more news on True Detective: Night Country now, including what else is coming

What do you most want to see when it comes to the polar bear on True Detective: Night Country?

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