True Detective Season 4: Why That Tuttle United Reference Is Important 

The latest True Detective easter egg from Night Country points to a vast conspiracy yet again.

Jodie Foster looking at a circle of photos in True Detective: Night Country
Photo: Michele K. Short | HBO

This article contains spoilers for True Detective: Night Country episode 2.

If the “Night Country” subtitle didn’t already give it away, True Detective season 4 is a bit of a departure from the previous three installments of HBO‘s beloved crime anthology.

Original True Detective creator and writer of the first three seasons Nic Pizzolatto is no longer involved with the series. That’s something that he’s elected to make very clear from his Instagram (Up until recently, Pizzolatto’s bio mentioned True Detective seasons 1-3 and pointedly “NOT NIGHT COUNTRY” but that now appears to have been removed).

In Pizzolatto’s place has stepped indie auteur Issa López to craft a story about two mismatched detectives investigating a spooky crime in the perpetual night of Northern Alaska. Still, despite López’s lack of connection to the first three seasons of True Detective (or maybe even because of it), Night Country features more Easter eggs and callbacks to True Detective‘s first season than any other season has attempted by far. This includes the latest callback that deals with Tuttle United, a conglomerate presumably owned by the villainous Tuttle clan.

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Late in episode 2, junior detective Peter Prior (Finn Bennett) shares his findings about the financial backing of the Tsalal research station with his boss Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster).

“The NGO that funds the station, if you follow the taxes you can trace it back to a shell company called NC Global Strategies, which in turn belongs to Tuttle United,” Prior says.
“Tuttle United – what do they do?” Danvers asks.
“Oh everything. Glass, tech, video games, shipments, palm oil, cruise lines … “

Danvers sarcastically thanks Prior and tells him this information was “really not helpful.” But longtime fans of True Detective know that couldn’t possibly be further from the truth. That’s because Tuttle United is almost certainly the business arm of villainous Tuttle Cult, a powerful organization created by the Tuttle family in Louisiana.

The Tuttles are the (mostly off-screen) big bads from True Detective‘s first season. Originally comprised of politicians, businessmen, and other influential figures, the Tuttle family is interested in dark, satanic rituals like human sacrifice and child sexual abuse. Detectives Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) eventually uncover video footage of one such disturbing ritual. They believe the family might have something to do with the murder of Dora Lange that they’re investigating.

Indeed the Tuttle family was involved – sort of. The once dynastic clan is a shell of itself by True Detective season 1’s present day. Errol Childress, a disfigured bastard child of a Tuttle scion living in squalor, did kill Dora. But most other Tuttles are dead and gone.

Still, the inclusion of Tuttle United in True Detective: Night Country suggests that the Tuttle Clan still maintains some of its influence on the world stage. Whether any actual Tuttles are involved with the organization remains to be seen but their dark legacy surely lives on throughout. What, exactly, could any remaining Tuttles be interesting in achieving through Tuttle United? Night Country explains that quite definitively.

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Before Liz learns about Tuttle United, she pays a visit to the geology teacher at Ennis High School (and an old fuck buddy), Mr. Adam Bryce (Donnie Keshawarz). She wants to know exactly what it is that Tsalal is researching and Bryce has the answer.

“They spent decades trying to sequence the DNA of an extinct microorganism that potentially could stop cellular decay,” Bryce says. “The work they were doing could end up curing cancer, autoimmune diseases, genetic disorders. Absolute fucking game changer.”

Like any other dynasty of rich monsters the Tuttles wanted to find a way to live forever. And through the research at Tsalal station, they think they might be able to.

New episodes of True Detective: Night Country air Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, culminating with the finale on Feb. 24, 2024.