True Detective: Night Country episode 1 ending explained and 3 burning questions we have for episode 2

True Detective: Night Country premiered on HBO tonight, introducing us to the fictional town of Ennis, Alaska.
True Detective: Night Country
True Detective: Night Country /

We've got another mystery to solve because True Detective is back! The critically acclaimed HBO drama has returned after nearly five years with a brand new showrunner, cast, location, and of course, a new investigation. The fourth installment is titled Night Country, taking place in the fictional town of Ennis, Alaska. When a team of researchers goes missing, it's up to Detective Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) and the town police to figure out what happened. But, unsurprisingly, it's not going to be an easy feat.

Joining the Academy Award-winning actress in the cast of True Detective: Night Country are Academy Award nominee John Hawkes, Film Independent Spirit Award nominee Kali Reis, Emmy Award nominee Fiona Shaw, BAFTA Award nominee Christopher Eccleston, and other talented faces. Yep, it's a pretty stacked cast. This show has never had a problem casting great actors each season, but we'll have to see how well this season shapes up.

The first episode of True Detective: Night Country, "Part 1," premiered tonight on HBO, and we're here to break down that shocking ending and discuss the biggest questions we have going into next week!

WARNING: Major spoilers for True Detective: Night Country below.

True Detective: Night Country episode 1 sets up what's likely to be the main mystery of the season after a team of scientists goes missing from their home station. When Detective Danvers and her colleagues Hank Prior (John Hawkes) and Peter Prior (Finn Bennett) arrive to begin investigating, they find a tongue on the floor. Though Peter questions if it could be from an animal, Danvers is quick to determine it likely belongs to a woman.

True Detective: Night Country /

When former detective Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) hears about the missing tongue, she confronts Danvers about a previous murder case where a woman was found stabbed repeatedly and beaten with her tongue removed. Despite the similarity, however, Danvers doesn't want to admit there could be a connection. This angers Navarro, who worked on that murder case and was taken off, and eventually, Danvers comes around and starts doing some digging.

The majority of the episode follows Danvers and Navarro's dynamic and introduces us to the people in their lives, including Danvers' stepdaughter Leah and Navarro's love interest Eddie.

True Detective: Night Country episode 1 ends with more questions than answers

Alongside Navarro and Danvers' storyline, the first episode of True Detective: Night Country introduces us to a woman named Rose Aguineau (Fiona Shaw) who keeps seeing a mysterious man in her yard. Captivated by his presence, Rose walks out into the snow to find him once more at the end of the premiere and is led to a shocking discovery. When the police arrive at the scene, they find three men dead and frozen, all making scared faces. Rose tells them that someone named Travis showed her, to which Navarro is confused, reminding Rose that Travis is dead. "I know," Rose replies.

If these three men are part of the research team, where are the other five? That's just one of the many questions we have after the premiere. Let's get into the other biggest mysteries right now!

Who killed Annie, and why?

Apart from the mystery of the missing researchers, another big unsolved case in True Detective: Night Country is Annie's death. The Alaskan woman was found brutally murdered years before the season opens up, and despite Navarro's hard work trying to figure out who killed her, no real answers were ever found. Navarro hangs out with Annie's brother in the first episode, and he tells her that it might not be worth reopening old wounds to revisit the case. But Navarro is determined. I don't think we'll find out what happened to Annie in the second episode, but we better get answers by the finale.

True Detective: Night Country /

Does Annie's murder have anything to do with the research crew?

And chances are, Annie's murder might have to do with the missing researchers. Of course, the first connection is the missing tongue. That's so disturbing! Who would cut out someone's tongue, and why would the scientists have one in their station? It has to be Annie's, right? The premiere is surely setting it up for us to think that, at least. Another clue that Annie might be connected to whatever the scientists were up to is something Danvers discovers.

When looking back at Annie's files, she sees a photo of her wearing a tan parka that's very similar to one that one of the researchers is wearing in a different photo. Danvers goes to their home station to look around for it but she can't find the parka anywhere. She's not certain it's the same one, but she had a hunch that it might be.

Depending on how many twists True Detective: Night Country throws at us, there's a chance Annie isn't connected to the research crew at all. This might just be the show trying to throw us off the scent, but we'll have to keep watching every week to find out for sure.

Who is Travis?

Though it's not the main plot, so far I'm already kind of more interested in Rose's story. A dead man comes to her home and leads her to a major discovery — there's definitely something supernatural and strange going on here. But who is Travis? Her son? Her husband? It's hard to tell how old he is. It's apparent he was someone very important to her, however. I wonder if this is connected to Alaskan folklore or urban legends. That would be pretty epic. There's a lot of cool stuff the show can do with it taking place in Alaska, beyond just incorporating the weather.

We're just one episode in and though there are some things about the True Detective: Night Country premiere I don't love, I'm definitely hooked on the mystery and need to know more. If you feel the same, be sure to catch new episodes every Sunday night, airing on HBO and streaming on Max at 9:00 p.m. ET. There are six episodes total in the season.