Saturday, July 3, 2021

REVIEW: 'Home Before Dark' - Hilde Unravels the Mysteries of Erie Harbor as Matt Does the Same Within the Family in 'Dark Rooms'

AppleTV+'s Home Before Dark - Episode 2.04 "Dark Rooms"

Following the money, Hilde is drawn to the most powerful company in Erie Harbor. Someone unexpected comes back into Izzy's life.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 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.

"Dark Rooms" was written by Christine Roum, Russel Friend & Garrett Lerner and directed by Kate Woods

Matt discovers that all of Pop Pop's old fishing buddies are dead. On its face, that revelation doesn't seem like some major reveal that can further the mystery of the season's overarching narrative. The story frequently positions Pop Pop as a man dealing with memory loss who is no longer able to live on his own. Sure, he has plenty of lucid moments as well. But it was always played as a natural part of life. He was getting older. A miracle cure doesn't exist that can magically make him better. Hilde is desperately chasing that idea. She believes he got sick in the same way that the fish and birds did. She can't test the pond water to confirm that theory though. The city has already paved over it. The local government took quick action after Hilde's reporting. It was all seen as a good thing. And yet, the narrative just naturally leave the audience suspicious. This is a story built around a core mystery. One that has ramifications throughout Erie Harbor and the Lisko family. Hilde's job is to expose the truth. The way so many things are connected actually reverberate throughout life in the present. But again, the deaths of Pop Pop's friends are seen as a big, shocking reveal because it's positioned in parallel to Hilde and her friends discovering an airplane behind the locked door in the mansion. As such, the audience can understand that this is an important detail. It just doesn't carry the same weight that some of the other reveals of merit do. It places suspicion back on Pop Pop and the life he has lived in this community. Matt doesn't even know that his father is known as a prankster. That seems like an important detail that should have come up before now. Matt is seeing his father in a new light altogether. He and Frank may restore the fishing boat that is still taking up space on the dock. That history is important. It must be remembered. It can't be ignored hoping that no problems will extend from it. That's not how life works. People have to bluntly accept what happened in the past. They must learn from it and ensure the same mistakes aren't repeated. This show is both mindful of history and how it connects to the present. It also embraces the nostalgia of another time. It too romanticizes the notion of developing film from a camera. That process always used to happen immediately for Hilde. And now, she has to embrace a new process altogether. It allows her to bond with her father even more. He shows her the ropes in this skill just like he has always done with journalism. It's also the show passing down wisdom from the past so that the youth of today can also treat it with reverence. That sentimentality may hit for some viewers. It seems a little unnecessary. It may just offer a way to stretch out the story when it's struggling to fill time. Hilde eventually finds photographic proof that someone is stalking her. That's very concerning. She has no idea who this man is either. She finds the potential company he works for. She talks with the CEO who is much more open to her questions than most adults are. She is changing the world. As such, people are showing their respect for the work she does. That evolution is still slow though. Most people still dismiss what she is capable of doing. The audience knows better than that. We certainly don't need to see her screaming in the middle of the street to get that point across. This absolutely feels like a transitional episode. One where it's setting all the various pieces into place to create a meaningful resolution later on. It also features character-building moments of Trip feeling constrained and monitored at work while Kim feels constantly judged by how others perceive her. Those moments don't really offer much to the overall proceedings though. That's unfortunate. It should help improve the viewer's understanding of these characters. But then, the show just brings Ethan back to town seemingly because it's convenient despite the past excuse to move him away. It's inconsistent without trying to aspire for more. Again, all of this is disappointing. It highlights the ways in which the story can feel disjointed and thin at times. It can certainly rebound from this. This just happens to be an annoying and lackluster episode that probably can't be redeemed in hindsight based on whatever comes next.