Friday, April 3, 2020

REVIEW: 'Home Before Dark' - The Lisko Sisters Find Themselves in Danger While Bridget Confronts Matt in 'Never Be the Same'

AppleTV+'s Home Before Dark - Episode 1.02 "Never Be the Same"

Hilde learns more about Erie Harbor's secrets. Her father, Matt, is forced to face his past and reconnect with his own father.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of AppleTV+'s Home Before Dark.

"Never Be the Same" was written by Garrett Lerner and directed by Jon M. Chu

The show wore its aspirations on its sleeve during the premiere. It was a show about journalistic integrity in the face of overwhelming attacks against the truth. Hilde had a theory on a case and quickly stirred up controversy in the small town of Erie Harbor. She believes that Patty Gillis was murdered. The police aren't investigated the crime as such. Hilde has questions about the investigation though. The pieces aren't lining up for her. Of course, the narrative really plants the audience in Hilde's mind. We see this world through her eyes and perspective. Her father, Matt, is the one with the emotional connection to this town and this case. He is the one haunted by his past and ostracized by the local community unwilling to forgive him for what he did. The heinous action that has dictated this contempt though is him refusing to jump on the bandwagon of sentencing Sam Gillis for the crime of abducting and likely killing Richie Fife. They hate him because he spoke his truth. His own father is disappointed in him. The show is making the argument for why that makes journalism so brave. The people who cover the stories of the world have a responsibility to do so accurately and with a pursuit for justice. They can't just be chasing after the sensationalized headlines to create extreme reactions. Of course, that is exactly what Hilde is doing. She wants to paint Kim as the prime suspect in the murder case. She has all the evidence lined up to present a damning argument. She believes she is operating with an objective mind. She can see things that others are quick to overlook. However, it would be too easy for the show to wrap up its grand mystery during its second episode. As such, it has to offer a reasonable explanation for why Kim isn't the prime suspect in this crime. She too is a citizen of this town haunted by its past. She is still willing to have a discussion with Matt. She was willing to honor Patty's wishes even though that conversation turned out to be the last time they saw each other. The narrative is fickle that way. It creates this red herring that way the viewer also jumps on board of quickly naming a suspect and only wanting to see her guilt. It wants the viewer to operate just like the citizens of this town. Once a feasible story is presented, it then becomes much more difficult for people to convince others that it is false. When Sam was named the only suspect of Richie's disappearance, that is all anyone wanted to believe. They no longer wanted to listen to Matt even though he was at the crime scene. The video evidence of such has never been seen by the police. Mistakes were made and lives were damaged as a result. These are weighty topics. However, the show doesn't quite know what to do with them beyond stating them outwardly. It's also just weird to see how the show executes its moments of abject horror. It goes for the easy jump scare at the top of the episode with Ginny being surprised to see a stranger in the kitchen of the family's new home. Hilde knows this to be her grandfather. She just doesn't really care about his declining mental state. That isn't as important as her investigation. She operates in that way where her journalistic endeavor is the only thing of value to her. That runs the risk of her seeming too one-dimensional and incapable of being more than what the narrative's investigative teases need her to be at any given moment. Plus, there is a section where all three of the Lisko sisters are in danger because of what's in this town. Ginny has wandered away from her mother. Izzy is being chased by a wolf. Hilde is hiding out in a closet because someone else is in Patty's house. It's all very forced in order to create a sense of narrative tension and dread. It places children in harm's way while always having the certainty that they will all be perfectly fine. It's the trauma that inspires the perfect Instagram picture. It's weird and doesn't work at all. In fact, it's narratively exhausting because it deprives the show from earning the dramatic, character-based moments later on. It should be crucial that Bridget is learning how much Matt has withheld from her and that Matt needs Hilde to act more like a kid. But that mostly amounts to stilted dialogue that doesn't really challenge what the narrative is doing. It's just storytelling going through the motions.