In Episode 5 of Home Before Dark, Matt teams up with an unlikely ally to find out who set the fire while Sheriff Briggs makes a drastic move.
Well, that was an emotional episode. In the fifth episode of Home Before Dark, many characters make drastic decisions, which is fitting since this is the mid-way point of the season. Choices made by our key players will seriously affect the plot and character arcs moving forward.
By the end of the hour, Matt’s dad is living with the Lisko’s, Frank is running for sheriff, and Sam is out of prison on a 48-hour furlough. How did we wind up there?
Who set Richie’s bike on fire?
Let’s begin with the most pressing question of the episode. Who set fire to Richie’s green bike? The answer might surprise you.
For starters, the fire shakes up the Lisko household. Matt breaks out the emergency preparedness kit and starts telling his daughters how to be alert and aware in case anyone tries to harm them. He doesn’t want them to become paranoid, but when you’re trying to uncover a murder that a corrupt sheriff has spent decades covering up, there are bound to be some obstacles.
None of them could have predicted that the fire was started by one of their own. Matt’s father, Sylvester, turns out to be the culprit. He Houdini’d his way out of the nursing home yet again, because the security there sucks, apparently.
His reasoning for setting the fire is devastating. Sylvester blames himself for Richie’s abduction on some level because he’s the one who gave Richie the bike after his father got all pissy at him for not wanting a fancy, flashy bike and stormed out — on the poor kid’s birthday.
We learn a lot about Jack Fife in this episode. He wasn’t the nicest to his son, a fact that clearly haunts him all these years later. However, he is slowly coming around to the idea that Sam Gillis may not be guilty.
I can understand why Jack would want to deny that since it means he has to reopen all the old wounds surrounding his son’s disappearance.
Taking pity on him, a much younger Sylvester gave Richie one of the older bikes, which turns out to be the now-infamous green bike. The way Sylvester explains it, the bike is “cursed,” which is why he felt it was necessary to set on fire.
Surprisingly, this entire incident results in Matt apologizing to his dad and deciding to remove him from the nursing home to live with him and his family. I don’t blame him; that place can’t even keep their patients from escaping.
Matt and Frank find common ground
For once, Matt and Frank aren’t at each other’s throats. In fact, this episode proves to be a huge turning point for Frank’s character arc.
He arrives at the Lisko evidence to help investigate the fire. At first, the two bickers, but it’s less intense than it was in the first few episodes. Matt even offers Frank a beer. Together, they follow a blood trail from the house into the woods where they find Sylvester running around like a maniac.
Matt’s dad is a connecting factor for Matt and Frank. It’s obvious that while Matt was gone, Frank sought comfort from Sylvester because the relationship with his own dad is pretty terrible.
We even learn that Frank once confessed to Sylvester that he believed Matt had been right all along about Sam and that he understood his father had coached him into lying. That was the truth bomb Sylvester tried to tell Matt a few episodes ago.
The episode also confirms without a doubt that Sheriff Frank Sr. coerced his son into committing perjury. In a flashback, we witness Frank manipulating his son while his wife, Annmarie, watches it happen. At the end of the episode, after reading Hilde’s latest article, Frank is fully convinced that he’s been on the wrong side of the Richie Fife case all along.
He angrily confronts his father and tells him that he’s running against him for sheriff! Frank Jr. has finally had enough of his father’s corruption.
Sheriff Frank goes above and beyond to destroy evidence
Speaking of Hilde’s article, she discovers a few new juicy tidbits about Richie’s case in the latest episode of Home Before Dark. Even though the footage of Richie’s abduction is out there and has gone “viral,” there are a lot of naysayers who believe the video could have been tampered with to make it seem like it wasn’t Sam Gillis’s van.
This refusal to believe what is on the videotape frustrates Hilde, and she becomes determined to prove that Sam never changed his license plates. She, Spoon, and Donny sneak into an old junkyard to find Sam’s van. They learn it wasn’t the same van in the video based on the placement of the gas cap.
Unfortunately, before Hilde can document anything, Sheriff Frank arrives and orders the van to be crushed. He also takes Hilde into the sheriff’s department and even threatens to take her away from her family because he totally sucks.
Poor Hilde is devastated at losing what she thinks is the only evidence she has of Sam’s evidence. But then she gets a saving grace in the form of Frank’s sister, Kathryn.
It turns out, Kathryn overheard the conversation between Frank and Mayor Fife regarding the videotape and decides to tell Hilde a long-buried truth.
Years ago, after Al Weregeles or “Birdman,” gave Frank the tape, he threw it in the trash and hid it. A young Kathryn stole the tape and gave it to her mother, Annmarie.
Annmarie never had the strength to go forward with the tape, but before she died, she gave it to Penny Gillis because she didn’t want to die knowing her husband had stolen evidence that could have saved an innocent man. That solves the mystery of how the tape wound up in Penny’s possession.
Once Hilde publishes this new intel in The Magic Hour Chronicle, it becomes too much for Frank Jr. to ignore, hence why he decides now is the perfect time to run against his dad in the sheriff’s election.
Sam gets to attend Penny’s funeral
We learn what “project” Bridget and Kim planned to work together on, getting Sam a 48-hour furlough so he can attend Penny’s funeral. It works, but not without forcing Sam to make an unethical decision.
While the warden agrees to Bridget’s plea to let Sam say goodbye to his sister, he makes it clear that he is only willing to grant the furlough if Sam signs an agreement stating that he’ll never sue the prison for all the abuse he suffered over the years. Bridget strongly advises him against signing it, since it means they get away with the poor treatment, not only to Sam but to the other inmates.
It isn’t fair to put that decision on Sam’s shoulders, and he voices his thoughts on the matter. Ultimately, he opts to sign the agreement so he can say goodbye to Penny. Bridget is understanding. It wasn’t an easy choice for him.
In the end, Kim and Bridget set up a lovely service for Penny. Her ashes are buried in the center of the square so no one “can avoid her anymore,” per her last wishes.
They also plant a specific tree as part of Yakama custom to honor her legacy. Quite a few people turn up for the Gillis family, proving there might be hope for Erie Harbor just yet.
Odds & Ends
- This might be nitpicky but I found it odd the characters kept saying the fire started on different things. At one point someone says it was Hilde’s bike set on fire, then someone says it was a shed set on fire. We know Richie’s green bike was set on fire in the driveway. It could just be that the bike was given to Hilde to use and they saw flames rising from the shed because of its location, but I found it a little inconsistent in terms of continuity.
- We are introduced to Kim’s dad, it turns out he’s the one that owns the crazy wolf-dog named Gildebrand that likely chased Izzy and Ethan in the woods.
- It looks like Izzy and Ethan are officially a “thing” now!
- An additional flashback in this episode shows a young Matt, Frank, and Richie hanging out with the much older Sam in his van. He gave them their first beer. That moment was eventually used against him by Sheriff Frank.
- Mayor Fife raises an interesting point in this episode when questioning Frank and his motives. Is it possible he wanted Sam locked up for racist reasons? Frank denies it, but at this point, who knows?
What did you think about Episode 5 of Home Before Dark? Were you surprised by Frank’s decision to run against his father? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
The complete first season of Home Before Dark is now streaming on Apple TV+.