In the Dark' Finally Finds Itself at the End of the Season
By Mike Hughes, TVWorthWatching.com's 'Open Mike' - Jun. 20, 2019
Born with good intentions, fine actors, and poor pacing, In the Dark has wandered a bit.
It seemed to be drifting, but not anymore. The season's final two episodes make it all worthwhile; they're at 9 p.m. ET, Thursdays, June 20 and 27, on the CW.
Yes, that's the network that's stuffed with superheroes – which Dark is not. It's sort of the opposite, which is how it got started.
There was a management retreat, CW chief Mark Pedowitz recalled earlier this year, and the speaker was Lori Bernson. “Lori was captivating, and she was incredibly funny and sarcastic.” She's also blind, and she disputed all those stories about blind folks having super hearing or super hearts. As she puts it: “A person without vision can have as many quirks as a person who has sight.”
So CW created In the Dark, which arrived at mid-season and will be back sometime next year.
The show's main character, Murphy (Perry Mattfeld, top) had a degenerative disease in her teens (as did Bernson). Now she's a young woman, blind and bitter; she works at the guide dog place started by her parents, and now owned by Felix (Morgan Krantz), but rarely does anything helpful. She had exactly two friends – Jess (Brooke Markham), her roommate, and Tyson (Thamela Mpumlwana), a teen she met when he saved her from a violent attack.
Then things crashed. Murphy found Tyson's body. Her obsession with finding the killer strained things with Jess, who finally moved out. Even Dean (Rich Sommer) – the cop who was assigned to the case, partly because he has a blind daughter – has seemed exhausted by Murphy.
Often, Murphy dulls her senses with alcohol or sex. But now she's split from her boyfriend so as the June 20 episode begins she's thoroughly alone.
This is not cheery turf. After Murphy relates one memory, Chelsea (Lindsey Broad) calls it “like, the most depressing thing I've ever heard.” And Chelsea's a bartender, who knows depressed souls.
This show works because of the subtle skill of the actors. Mattfeld is perfect as Murphy – not just with the requirements of authentically playing a blind person, but the quiet details of a grim personality.
Not long ago, Mattfeld was a University of Southern California Song Girl, bouncing cheerily at basketball games. Now she plays someone she describes as “very deep and very layered...I beat (myself) pretty bad.”
It works. We start to like someone who doesn't seem to like herself. Others – especially Markham as Jess and Sommer as Dean – also bring subtlety to their roles.
In the Dark shouldn't have tried to stretch this first story out for 13 weeks. Now, however, these final two episodes provide a powerful pay-off.