Monday, April 6, 2020

REVIEW: 'Home Before Dark' - Hilde and Matt Begin to Look at the Richie Fife Case in a New Way in 'Bigger Than All of Us'

AppleTV+'s Home Before Dark - Episode 1.10 "Bigger Than All of Us"

Significant new evidence is dredged up from a nearby lake. Hilde discovers that it's the beginning of a much larger mystery.

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 season finale of AppleTV+'s Home Before Dark.

"Bigger Than All of Us" was written by Russel Friend and directed by Rosemary Rodriguez

For thirty years, everyone in Erie Harbor has believed that Richie Fife was killed when he was abducted one night. A body was never recovered though. He just vanished without a trace. Sam was convicted of the crime. However, the Fife family never truly had closure. They had to move forward with some version of their lives. That may have made the Mayor softer as a man but his fragile sense of self has gone on quite the roller coaster throughout this season. He didn't want to give into the hope that Hilde and Matt were offering him. He trusted whatever Sheriff Briggs told him about the case. The entire town operated as such. They trusted him as their chief law enforcement officer. The audience can see plainly how his racist ideologies impacted his ability to do his job. He is still making the same heinous choices as he did all those years ago. He refuses to drain the lake even after Hilde and Matt come to him with the evidence they believe will prove the van and Richie's body will be found there. They have solved this case. They can offer true closure to a town that has been prevented from moving beyond this crime. It's not as simple as that though. Yes, the storytelling overwhelmingly wants to paint a simple and concise portrait of how these characters operate. Their motivations are often easy to understand. The antagonists are blatantly so while the protagonists are simply struggling to stick to their beliefs with the challenges they face. Hilde believes that a passionate speech can convince Frank Sr. to change his mind. It doesn't. He refuses to see her as anything besides a cute and annoying little girl. He has a personal investment in all of this. However, he hasn't been haunted by this case like everyone else. Because he lacks that motivation, it's clear to see him as the monster he absolutely is. Frank and Trip understand that this town is hurting and even need some of this peace themselves. Trip can prove that she is the type of officer this town needs to head into the future. Meanwhile, Frank and Matt can finally learn what actually happened to their best friend. But again, those answers are elusive even though this is the season finale. The penultimate episode revealed that Carol and her brother Zeke were the ones who took Richie. Carol did so because she thought she was the only person who could keep Richie safe in this dangerous situation. She knew her brother wouldn't ultimately care about his safety. And yes, that's ultimately true in the end. Carol tells the police that she believes her brother and Richie vanished to a life paid for by whomever hired him to get Richie away from his family. She never knew if that was a true story. She has actually long known the dark secrets of this town. Sam was innocent and Richie's body was likely at the bottom of the nearby lake. She heard the crash. She figured something would develop. It never did. She allowed herself to believe that everyone had the closure they needed. She needed to believe that Sam had an underlying need to be punished. He didn't. She allowed herself to be bullied by a racist. That stops after thirty years. But that is still a long time for that view point to disrupt a man's life. And in the end, the town doesn't even recover Richie's body. Instead, it's revealed that he survived this endeavor. He made it to shore when Zeke went down with his van. Sure, it was awkwardly depicted how Carol and Zeke were led to believe that Richie was dead in the first place. That allows the suspense to build as the police open the van to get the resolution they have long sought out. Instead, only more mysteries are created. Hilde and Matt embark on a new investigation to figure out exactly what happened to Richie. He survived. He never returned to Erie Harbor though. Something more happened. It means there is resolution to this case. It's just clear that it will be an ongoing concern for the family. This will be the story that always define their lives here. It being never-ending though may lesson the impact of any big reveals though. The mystery didn't exactly have the material to carry ten episodes of story. The finale offers some major resolution but not everything is tied up neatly. It's messy which isn't inherently bad. Not a lot of effort was placed into believing that Trip could win the race for Sheriff. It seemingly all came down to what Hilde could write in support of her. It was the beat that needed to happen though to signal a change. This is a turning point. Perhaps the characters can stop living in the past and focus more on the present and future. The new twist in Richie's life though may damn the show to always be tortured in that way which may not be healthy for the main characters. It may just ensure that their suffering is elongated when there are so many stories out there that they could explore and shine a light on the truth.