‘Home Before Dark’ is a murder investigation drama that follows the journey of its young protagonist, Hilde Lisko (Brooklynn Prince), on her dynamic journey to unearth the long lost secrets buried in her father’s hometown. The series is inspired by Hilde Lysiak, the youngest journalist to be added to the Society of Professional Journalists. Though it borrows its source from Lysiak, ‘Home Before Dark’, is a fictional extension that intends to entertain through its suspenseful intrigue. SPOILERS AHEAD.
‘Home Before Dark’ Season 1 Recap
‘Home Before Dark’ introduces its viewers to 9-year-old Hilde Lisko, who follows her journalist father, Matt’s footsteps, to live and breathe investigative journalism. Matt loses his job, and as a result, the whole family is soon displaced to Erie Harbor, where Matt grew up. Hilde’s first day in town greets her with the murder of Penny Gillis, whose brother is a convicted felon for abducting and murdering Richie Fife, the town Mayor’s son. The travesty and lack of enthusiasm on the local sheriff’s part drive Hilde to dive right into the case, which is dismissed as an accident.
Matt ends up keeping to himself and is often haunted by the memories of a traumatic past that involves the abduction of his best friend, Richie. This subdued nature becomes the cause of many conflicts between him and his wife, Bridget. However, Hilde uses the opportunity to befriend Trip, a police officer who helps her solve Penny Gillis’s murder. It turns out; she was killed by a correctional officer who was blackmailing her with the threat to harm Sam if she did not provide him with prescription pills. The town ghosts the Lisko family as a result of this. They also have an inherent dislike for Matt since he didn’t give what they believed was the true testimony for Richie’s murder.
Hilde, her friends, and her family work together to restabilize the evident corruption in the town and uncover the truth of what happened to Richie in 1988. Though her first suspect Principal Kim turns out to be innocent, she is able to put together crucial pieces of evidence like Richie’s bike, his jacket, a VHS tape, and Matt’s father’s research.
Hilde and her father discover the identity of the true culprit: Principal Collin’s mother, Carol Collins, and her brother Zeke. Zeke was hired by someone in the Mayor’s family to kidnap Richie to save him from the abuse he was going through. However, all went wrong when Richie stabs Zeke and is pushed out of the vehicle in what was believed to be his death. Carol is put away in prison, and the van is pulled out of a lake, not to find Richie’s body in the vehicle as believed. The season looms to its end as Hilde and Matt gear up to further investigate.
‘Home Before Dark’ Season 1 Ending, Explained
The ending of Season 1 seems quite rushed, and a bit disappointing, considering the series does a good job in building its suspense and playing with the viewer’s imagination. The guilt-stricken culprit, Carol Collins’s motive, falls quite flat. She was leading a double life that nobody was aware of. Her original name is Margaret, which she changes as she comes to Erie Harbor. In the past, she was booked for multiple crimes of theft but didn’t exhibit violent tendencies either in the past or present. Her brother, who was outspokenly on the wrong side of the fence, gets her to join him in a gig to kidnap Richie only to have it all fall apart. However, as the season comes to a close, the mystery is far from solved; in fact, it may just be the beginning of something bigger.
Richie’s body is nowhere in the van, and Hilde’s sharp eyes spot all the right clues, which suggest that Richie escaped as the van was drowning. The burning question that maybe the birth of a second season in the quest to find out where Richie went after he escaped, who hired Zeke to kidnap Richie, and if there are more secrets in Erie Harbor.
The final episode of season 1 also rearranges various equations and power dynamics in Erie Harbour, which now has much chance to redeem itself from being ‘eerie’ just like its name suggests. The show that follows a naive but smart young girl doesn’t merely solve crimes and write articles on them but also appeals to the ethical sensibilities of its town folks.
The town that was lying in ignorant slumber is jolted awake when Hilde points out the imminent biased, sexist, and racist mentality of the supposed guardians of the town who are its local police. She inspires them to get out of the cyclic loop of complacency and be the change. This is seen when Trip, who is perhaps the only police officer who tries to do her job, is voted as the town’s next Sheriff under Hilde’s campaign. Murder cases apart, it also sets the mentality of the town folks right.
Hilde, towards the end of the season, reveals the egoist and racist mentality of its previous sheriff, Frank Briggs Sr. who was the sole reason that Sam Gillis had to spend most of his life in prison for a crime he didn’t even think of committing, let alone do it. He put away crucial evidence that could have proven Sam innocent because of his bias towards “people like him” (native Americans). The season highlights what was fundamentally wrong with the town as a whole. However, season 1 ends on a positive note to the awakening of the town to modern and liberating ideas of women empowerment, critical thinking, and to be non-judgemental.
It is interesting to see the series’ creative animation that serves as an added bonus to its narrative. For instance, the opening theme to the series is the notes in Hilde’s diary. As episodes unfurl, each thing mentioned in her note leads the viewers to make more and more connections in the form of a recap and to speculate ahead. Since the protagonist is a child, violent aspects of murder are shown with characters made out of origami than real visuals. This makes it look like it’s from the viewpoint of a child’s imagination.
Read More: Where Was ‘Home Before Dark’ Filmed?