Here’s why True Detective: Night Country brought back iconic ‘time is a flat circle’ line

“I do know that the hardcore Pizzolatto Forever fans are going to perhaps believe that it was put there just to appease them, but it’s not true.”

If ever there was a moment to prove that time is indeed a flat circle, this is it: In the season finale of True Detective: Night Country, missing scientist Clark is finally giving Detectives Danvers and Navarro some of the answers they’ve long sought when he drops the truth bomb that “time is a flat circle.”

Fans of season 1 of the broody mystery series will of course recall that Matthew McConaughey, as Rust Cohle, famously spoke those exact words in his iconic drawl in a much-memed memorable scene. Series creator Nic Pizzolatto, who wrote those now-infamous words the first time around, is credited as an executive producer on Night Country, but has been open on social media about the fact he was not involved in any way with the writing of season 4.

True Detective - Matthew McConaughey in season 1 as Rust Cohle

Matthew McConaughey in season 1 as Rust Cohle. MICHELE K. SHORT/HBO
So, was Night Country director, writer, and showrunner Issa López simply trying to pay homage to the acclaimed first season? Not exactly. “I do know that the hardcore Pizzolatto Forever fans are going to perhaps believe that it was put there just to appease them, but it’s not true,” López tells EW. “That phrase, it was not something that I planned on putting in the series at all. I think it’s super cheesy to say, ‘I will find a place to put this.'”

Still, there are several small, purposeful Easter eggs to season 1 scattered throughout season 4, like quick references to Tuttle Industries and Rust’s dad, Travis, and the eerie spiral symbol that pops up throughout. In fact, it was through that symbol that Lopez says she first made the connection to “time is a flat circle.”

In season 1, she says, the symbol represented the pedophilic cult and the mark of Carcosa, or “the other place” that the cult believes they can create an opening to. But, in season 4, “it’s just the access to the other places, to the ‘other world,'” Lopez explains. “And as I say in the series, it’s ancient, it’s older than the ice, it’s older than Louisiana. It’s older than Ennis, and it’s always been there and it will always be there.”

Jodie Foster, Kali Reis - True Detective: Night Country

Jodie Foster and Kali Reis in ‘True Detective: Night Country’. MICHELE K. SHORT/HBO

With that in mind, she wrote the final confrontation between Clark and the detectives, where he explains what happened to Annie. “Organically as I was writing the scene, [I thought] if you’re going to go with the version of there’s something mystical out there in the ice, and there’s something in the darkness that is awake and has forever been where this ancient spiral is, and that is also connected to Annie… Then Clark says Annie has always forever been in that cave, and she will always be there, and all of us are doing the same things forever — that’s a line that I wrote — I [then realized], because time is a flat circle!” she says, laughing at the epiphany. “It just came so naturally. And it is a scientist who says it because that concept is based in quantum physics. So it is a scientist who needs to say it.”

“It’s absolutely organic and it came from the script,” she concludes. “So it was not an intention, but I love that the connection between this season and the first one was so true organically that the lines were coming from the lips of the characters.”

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