Sunday, April 5, 2020

REVIEW: 'Home Before Dark' - Matt and Bridget Desperately Search for Hilde After She Mysteriously Vanishes in 'Search Party'

AppleTV+'s Home Before Dark - Episode 1.07 "Search Party"

When Hilde goes missing, Matt is forced to confront his worst nightmare.

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.

"Search Party" was written by Thembi L. Banks and directed by Jim McKay

The premise of this entire episode is built around the idea that something terrible has happened to Hilde. It's an idea that plays mostly to Matt and the greatest fear he has while living in Erie Harbor. He hasn't been coping well with this homecoming. He has had to confront the past and reckon with the actions made three decades ago. And now, his daughter is caught up in that story as well. It can be empowering and invigorating. This story has proven Hilde's skills as an investigative reporter. She can be trusted to tell a story honestly and correctly. Bridget can see that Matt opening up about his past and addressing these fears is healthy for him. However, the show always wants to project the Lisko family as at a breaking point. It says that one false move runs the risk of tearing this family apart. That hasn't always been consistent. Some episodes feature the family as a strong and cohesive unit fighting back against the corruption of this town. But now, it's annoying that Hilde's well-being is placed in jeopardy just to provide a heightened sense of drama and tension. The audience is probably reassured that nothing bad is going to happen to her. She won't end up just like Richie Fife. But that fear is present as well because everyone involved in this case keeps mentioning how the killer may still be out there if Sam truly is innocent of the crime. Hilde is still looking for the truth. She even stumbles upon new leads here with the suggestion that Richie may have been abused by one of his parents and the man with the "sinner" tattoo is probably connected to his disappearance. She gains that insight from Sam while he is on the run from the law. He escaped from Frank's custody because he understood that the world may never allow him to be free even if his innocence is proven. This felt like his only chance to have agency over his life once more. He never took Hilde. She willingly followed him along this journey. She helped him too. She just does so at the expense of her family. That's reckless and once again proves that these characters may not fundamentally like each other. That is a significant problem. There can absolutely be narrative tension amongst the family. It just shouldn't have to only present itself through dire situations. The show props up the idea of something sinister going on because Hilde's notebook is found on the side of the road. She would never leave that behind. And yet, that's exactly what happened. She dropped it and didn't go back to pick it up because Sam could have gotten away. It doesn't make much sense. It's Hilde acting as a plot construct instead of a multi-dimensional character. She is determined to prove her case and reshape how this community understands its single greatest tragedy. However, the narrative is still building to that gruesome image where Hilde may actually see Sam get shot. She proclaims that she has seen a lot and can handle whatever darkness people may be carrying around with them. She is still devastated when Sam finally leaves her behind though. She wants to be attached to his journey. She doesn't belong there. The family is concerned about Hilde getting hurt in the crossfire. Frank Sr. arms the entire police force in response to knowing Sam has escaped. That's his immediate reaction. Frank and Trip are the ones who put the humanity first to ensure that Sam's life is preserved at the end of this. This episode better contextualizes the stakes at play in this story. But again, it comes at the expense of Hilde and her relationship with her family. It proves that Bridget is tired of having to play Matt's dysfunction off as totally normal. Matt sees the need to turn Hilde's attention away from this case. That's unlikely to occur though. It's only more mounting evidence that people are trying to tell her what to do. She is a journalist. She does have to care about her own safety though. The show has to value that as well. And so, the execution is wildly off here. It feels manipulative just in order to increase tension without providing anything of true substance while Sam fields Hilde's questions about the Richie Fife case. The truth is slowly being examined in a story that doesn't have much depth to be revealed as the season goes along. It's still essentially the same as earlier. Now, Hilde just proves herself to be even more reckless in her pursuit of the truth. That just shouldn't come at the expense of what her life is outside of this career. She may not see much value beyond being a reporter. However, she needs to because her family is worried about her while recognizing actions like this may only reinforce more dangerous behavior in the future. She has to remain smart while also considerate of how her actions impact those she loves. It's complicated while highlighting the shortcomings of the series.