Saturday, April 4, 2020

REVIEW: 'Home Before Dark' - Hilde Pursues a Lead While Matt Embraces the Individuality of His Daughters in 'The Bird, Man'

AppleTV+'s Home Before Dark - Episode 1.04 "The Bird, Man"

Hilde, Donny and Spoon track down Birdman, a mysterious outcast who may have crucial information about the Richie Fife case.

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.

"The Bird, Man" was written by Carla Ching and directed by Rosemary Rodriguez

On one level, Matt and Bridget want to protect their children from the horrors of the world. They don't want their girls to worry after Matt is beaten up by Frank and has to get stitches. They still worry though. It doesn't take much digging for Hilde to discover the blood in the garbage. That freaks them out. They fear the unknown. They jump to the most dire of possibilities. They fear they could be losing their father. He isn't going anywhere. He just remains lost at the moment because he doesn't quite know how to reckon with his past while still being there for his family. Being in Erie Harbor once more has forced him to confront his past actions. Some of them he is still proud of. He told the truth on the stand. He didn't join the mob wanting to convict Sam Gillis for the abduction and likely murder of Richie Fife. However, he also bullied his classmates. It shouldn't have taken him receiving that same, unfair treatment from his community for him to see the error of his ways either. This is the first time he can atone for that as well. Even then, he still views Al as someone who could do something to his daughter. That's the first thing he suggests. Afterwards, he apologizes which has the potential to forge a new dynamic between them. Again, that highlights the power of honesty and the way it can build these friendships. Kim is doing whatever it takes to honor Patty's last request. She may be keeping it a secret for now but that's a way to honor what that friendship was. Of course, she can also see through the ruse that Hilde and her friends create in order to get their hands on a new copy of the tape depicting Richie's abduction. In turn, that inspires them to track down Al to understand how this recording exists and what has happened to it during the past thirty years. The storytelling essentially presents a damning case against the Sheriff of Erie Harbor. He was willing to dismiss any evidence that could potentially exonerate Sam of this crime. He had his suspect. This case was a way for him to build a successful career as an elected official. He has run unopposed for years as Sheriff as a result of his actions and how his community continues to revere him. That may still be the case even after Hilde uses a public forum to ask a crucial question. She wants to know why he never entered the tape into evidence. She wants to know if he forced his son to lie under oath. The public has a right to know if their Sheriff is corrupt. An innocent man could be imprisoned simply because the police department wanted to boost its conviction statistics. They wanted to close as many cases as possible in order to assure the community that they would be safe. That is the narrative that Frank sells the community as he introduces his father. Frank is angered at what Matt reveals to him. He needs to destroy the one piece of evidence that could disrupt everything he has in his life. This is the privilege afforded to him because he was willing to deceive and go along with the lie. He wasn't the mastermind behind that plot. Instead, it was people in power who were more than willing to confine a man of color to a fate behind bars for a crime he didn't commit. Only now is Hilde and her family starting to get him the justice he deserves. And yes, Bridget can talk about the selfish reasons motivating her to do so. Hilde doesn't have that clarity or introspection just yet. She is simply determined to get to the truth. She will do so no matter which rules she breaks. And yes, she constantly finds herself in precarious situations. However, the show wants to reassurance the audience that she is always safe. In fact, her family always props her up and champions the work she is doing. That is special and should always be the message the narrative tries to deliver. It's murky and awkward when it suggests tension within this family unit. There is a way to do that without making it so rudimentary and familiar. The family is trying to be there for each other. They don't always have to succeed. They can get in their own ways sometimes. The show just has to make the effort to ensure that things always revolve around that central idea instead of the fear that more turmoil is set to befall the Lisko family.