'Home Before Dark's' portrayal of a 9-year-old's investigative journalism can give you sleepless nights

Hilde Lisko becomes the youngest member of the Society of Professional Journalists


                            'Home Before Dark's' portrayal of a 9-year-old's investigative journalism can give you sleepless nights
Hilde Lisko (Apple TV+)

Spoilers for 'Home Before Dark'

Apple TV+'s latest murder mystery, 'Home Before Dark' takes a page out of 13-year-old Hilde Lysiak's life who becomes the youngest member of the Society of Professional Journalists for being the first one to report a local murder in her self-run newspaper. On the show, Lysiak is played by Brooklynn Prince, who follows suit of Lysiak's reporter father who is her inspiration for journalism. Jim Sturgess stars as the jaded New York return reporter, Matt Lisko.

But as Hilde attempts to dig up the past that still haunts her dad and finds out what really happened to his best friend Richie Fife after he was kidnapped by a stranger 31 years ago, the importance that a nine-year-old's freedom of press gets is not only unrealistic but also a little worrisome. 

Hilde and Matt's relationship is one for an indie treat - the type we saw between Robin Williams and Matt Damon in 'Good Will Hunting'. He is always inspiring her, pushing her to dig deeper, and at times, can barely see her as the nine-year-old she actually is. But while Matt and his wife Bridget know better than to snub Hilde's passionate instincts for reporting, the way the adults just keep urging Hilde to wander off recklessly in search of truth is almost like Albus Dumbledore expecting a lanky teenager to beat the darkest wizards of all times.

For starters, Hilde - who is fortunately not the annoying side of precocious - demands to see public records at a police station and the officers don't protest after she says things like 'nevertheless, I persisted.'

Funny, wise beyond her age, and sarcastic at the same time, Hilde is a treat to behold. But should a police officer really be handing out police records to a nine-year-old? She is a child at the end of the day and while it might not be very obvious given her maturity and intellect, she is tiny and prone to making decisions that might come from the best of intentions, but also not always the right ones. She walks out of the main door in the middle of the night to glare down a driver in a mysterious car parked in their driveway.

She runs off with a wrongly incarcerated prisoner to interview him without informing her parents, in the dead of the night and this wandering off isn't an isolated incident, as her parents reveal. She breaks in pretty much everywhere and while it might have been interesting to watch Nancy Drew or Veronica Mars pull those stunts, for Hilde, it's only a matter of concern because she is, and this cannot be stressed enough, a little girl after all. 

But for every single time, Hilde does something that makes one wonder how troublesome it would be to have a child as curious as her, the adults top with off with more reckless encouragement - like her school principal giving her keys to make copies of a classified tape among other things. That Hilde is a child who is tackling things she should be is made clear with her immediate response to crisis, and the way she thinks having a video call with an inmate in prison, from the school library's computer is totally fine. 

But then again, maybe Hilde is trying to do as much because she knows the adults in the town aren't exactly reliable for justice. 

'Home Before Dark' premiered on Friday April 3 with all 10 episodes on Apple TV+.

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