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Series / In the Dark

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"Why don't you look blind?"
"Same reason you probably don't look stupid."

In the Dark is a 2019 drama on The CW created by Corinne Kingsbury. The pilot was directed by Michael Showalter (The Big Sick).

Murphy Mason (Perry Mattfeld) is a surly, alcoholic, blind woman who lives in Chicago and works for her parents' school for guide dogs. She lost her sight at fourteen and pretty much dislikes everyone except for her vet roommate, Jess, and Tyson, a teenage drug dealer who once saved Murphy from a mugger.

When Murphy goes to meet Tyson one night and finds his dead body, however, she becomes determined to discover who killed him and why. The police aren't much of a help, since the body disappears before they even find it and they only have the word of a drunk, blind woman to go with, but Murphy is determined to solve the case and find out what happened to one of her only friends. With her guide dog Pretzel and a stubborn attitude, she sets out to figure things out.

On May 12, 2022, it was announced that the show would end after four seasons.

Not to be confused with Into the Dark (a series of horror films on Hulu), the podcast In the Dark, or a previous TV series from 2017 with the same name.

Tropes included in In the Dark:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: After being fired, Gene tweets out his chief's confession at covering up Dean's crimes. Within hours, the chief is forced to quit and not only is Gene hired back but promoted to fill his spot.
  • The Alcoholic: Murphy. "You'd think blacking out would be easier when you're blind."
  • Alliterative Name: Murphy Mason.
  • Blind Mistake: Obviously, Murphy will get some amusingly wrong ideas because she can't see things.
    • Played more dramatically as often, Murphy literally cannot see a sign she's in imminent danger when it's right in front of her.
    • It's also the biggest challenge of Murphy trying to solve these mysteries, as she can't observe clues and more than once, makes the mistake of trusting someone who lies to her about them.
    • Felix's key clue Murphy and Max slept together? Her shirt is inside out with Murphy covering for it being an honest mistake.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: In "The Trial of Murphy Mason, Part Two" Murphy tells Max that she doesn't really love him or want to stay with him, as she's going to become a police informant so her case is dropped, something that will endanger not only her but also her loved ones.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Granted, Darnell knew Nia was a ruthless mobster but still thought she had a code. But when she offhand mentions she had Jules murdered as a fake suicide (unaware Jules and Darnell had been a couple), Darnell is obviously rocked hard and realizes what a monster she is. When she reveals she knew about their relationship the whole time, he immediately tries to sell her out to Josiah.
    • Gene gets this as, after spending all of season 2 looking up to Dean as a great cop and mentor, realizing he's a corrupt murderer is hard to take.
  • Brutal Honesty: Murphy does this a lot.
    • In the season 3 finale, Murphy is stunned that, after spending all season trying to find a presumed-dead Jess, she realizes her friend faked her death. When Murphy asks if Jess honestly was okay with Murphy spending her life thinking her dead, she replies "Yeah."
  • Butch Lesbian: Sterling, who gets involved with Jess, has Boyish Short Hair and also dresses in a pretty masculine way. Sam, meanwhile, is also revealed as being with her and even more of an example: she's a shaven-headed stone-cold badass female gangster.
  • Canine Companion: For Murphy, it's Pretzel, her guide dog, especially after she loses her cane.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • A major problem for Murphy is that she bullshits so much that when she tries to tell the truth about something, people don't believe her.
    • Likewise, Felix and Jess get into hot water trying to help Murphy with anyone from cops to crooks not believing their claims of innocence or explaining what's really happening.
    • In Season 4, Murphy is worried about Pretzel being sick but Max thinks she just wants an excuse to get him out of the house so she can do something. He realizes she's right when he finds a score of chocolate wrappers under the bed Pretzel was eating. He apologized, but Murphy brushes it off as "I wouldn't have believed me."
  • Continuity Nod: Murphy's trial in Season 4 has just about every single person Murphy has used, slept with and/or robbed over the previous three seasons testifying against her.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: Jess kills drug kingpin Nia to defend her friends from being murdered. However, she Murphy and Felix then have to flee as the Chicago Police don't know it was justifiable (this also couldn't be proven, since it's only their word and they had ample motive for murder to be rid of Nia).
  • Deadpan Snarker: This is pretty much Murphy's default mode of speech. Murphy's frenemy/co-worker Felix is also pretty snarky and both engage in Snark-to-Snark Combat on a daily basis.
  • Determinator: Murphy is an example of how this is not always a positive trait; she can be incredibly stubborn and often reacts with rage when those around her try to talk her out of some of her more...unsubstantiated hunches or convince her to give up when there's a supposedly easier way of doing things. That said, she has been able to solve at least two crimes that everyone around her thought would be hopeless, outwit both the Chicago PD and a dangerous drug lord and her minions, navigate a foreign country all alone except for Pretzel (the country in question was Canada, but still), and managed to escape a police interrogation room while handcuffed.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In season 4, when discovering Trey is the gang boss, Murphy and Darnell let him go with the police coming up empty on a raid. Murphy later confesses it to Gene and "we can still get him." When Gene asks how, he realizes Murphy's entire plan is just "arrest him" and tells her off on how that would have been much easier when the cops had the place surrounded with possible hostages inside rather than with Trey in the wind, Gene demoted and no evidence.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • Dean turns out to be one, having accepted bribes from Nia in return for tips on police efforts against her, and killed Tyson so this wouldn't come out.
    • The county jail is shown to have many guards taking bribes from the main gang leader in there for drug trafficking.
  • Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery: Murphy can get away with a lot given her blindness, and she knows it. Overall she's not a jerk, but at times she does take advantage of it.
  • Disability Superpower: Subverted. When the police are interviewing her, Murphy mentions that Tyson's dead body smelled different and one of the detectives says that her senses must be heightened due to being blind. Murphy tells her "I'm not Daredevil" and tells the detective that the reason she knew he smelled different was because she specifically smelled him. It's shown throughout the rest of the episode that her blindness really is a disability and without her cane or guide dog, she can't go anywhere.
  • Disabled Means Helpless: Murphy chides Detective Dean for thinking this about his daughter. She tells him that the best he can do is treat her exactly the same as before she was blinded.
  • Disabled Snarker: Murphy is a nutshell. She's blind and very, very sarcastic, implied to be a coping mechanism when faced with the issues in her life (not just about her disability, but also that).
  • Don't Celebrate Just Yet: The first season ends with Dean arrested and exposed, Murphy ready to move on...then Mia points out her friends have stolen $100,000 and now wants them to launder money for her or die.
  • Driven to Suicide: Dean kills himself rather than go to prison for his crimes.
  • Driving Question: Who killed Tyson and why? Why did they move his body and make people believe he's still alive?
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Murphy loves to drink, especially after she finds her best friend Tyson dead.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Murphy records Dean covertly with her phone when she gets him to confess that he'd murdered Tyson. He finds out and wipes the recording from her phone. It turns out to have already gotten saved on the cloud though.
  • Entitled to Have You: Josh towards Murphy in season 4. He tries to make a move on her, figuring that she owes him for everything she's put him through.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Trying to find where Felix stashed a gun, Gene and Josh overhear him talking of "leaving it at Mary's." They go over a neighborhood, cursing the number of Marys there with a co-worker joking, "must be a Catholic neighborhood." Josh realizes that the "Marys" talked of are actually a pair of statues at a church.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Ruthless drug dealer Josiah has a wife and two kids he clearly loves, whom the cartel targets along with him for destroying their heroin (so the cops wouldn't find it).
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The only time Pretzel growls is when Murphy finds Tyson's dead body.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Gene and Josh are so busy arguing they don't even notice as Murphy is escaping from the interrogation room.
  • Faking the Dead: Jess did this by switching her identity with a dead woman.
  • Frame-Up: Darnell is framed for murdering Tyson using planted DNA evidence.
  • Gayngster: Sam, a fierce, no-nonsense gang enforcer, turns out to be a lesbian.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Murphy and Stirling, two female characters, both have names which are usually last names and thus can fit with someone of any gender.
  • Happily Adopted: It's clear that even though Murphy has trouble with her parents, they still love her very much and don't regret adopting her.
  • Happy Ending Override:
    • A variation. While the first season finale still had Murphy being threatened by Nia, Dean was arrested after Murphy got a confession for his murdering Tyson. The second season has Dean using Loophole Abuse to avoid being arrested and gets his murder covered up by the police while Murphy and her friends are forced to work for Nia or face death.
    • It also happens to Darnell who's freed from jail for Tyson's murder only to find Jules dead in a faked suicide.
  • Hollywood Law:
    • A busted taillight isn't enough to warrant searching a vehicle. While the reason to stop them was faked, Gene already called in the excuse for dispatch, which would make it difficult assuming he'd actually found drugs by his search of the back.
    • "The Trial of Murphy Mason, Part One/Part Two" sees the prosecution mostly present negative character witnesses (i.e. everybody whom Murphy's ever wronged, basically), something that's not allowed except in quite narrow circumstances (e.g. to show a pattern of misbehavior that isn't evident here since they don't relate to her murder charge or if the defense cited character first) and very little evidence Murphy actually murdered the victim quite possibly not enough for them to put her on trial at all.
  • Honey Trap: Sterling turns out to be one, as she's got a girlfriend already but gets into a relationship Jess (her girlfriend's actually ordered it) as a spy to insure she and her friends obey the gang's commands.
  • How We Got Here:
    • The second season episodes open with a Flash Forward of Murphy and the gang being involved in another murder then show what led up to it.
    • The season 3 premiere ends with a scene of a woman beaten down and the show revealing over the season what happened.
    • The fourth season premiere opens with Murphy on a date only to find her date murdered and then flashes back three months to Murphy in jail.
  • Ignorance Is Bliss: In the second season premiere, Murphy is ready to tell Chloe how her father is a killer but after talking to the girl, she realizes she can't bring herself to ruin her life like this and keeps it quiet.
  • Inspector Javert: Josh is this in Season 4 as his obsession with proving Murphy's guilt overwhelms him. Gene has to call him out on it when Josh following Felix to prove he has drugs on him leads to a suspect being killed and revokes Josh's pass on this case. It leads to a worse conclusion as he's so convinced Murphy is the drug dealer that he warns the real dealer which ends up getting Max killed.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong:
    • Murphy tells Jess and Max to just give the money they stole to the cops and accept protection as "not all cops are bad." She then learns how the cops are going to let Dean skate on killing Tyson as if nothing happened. Murphy races to stop her friends from trusting the cops again.
    • Josh and Gene decide to skip part of Murphy's trial in Season 4 as "nothing will happen." Cut to the trial as a witness not only accuses Murphy of killing her brother but reveals she and Max slept together to a stunned Leslie, who then quits the case.
  • Just in Time: Jess arrived precisely at the right moment to stop Nia murdering Murphy, by shooting her.
  • Lipstick Lesbian:
    • Jess is something of a chapstick lesbian. Her ex-girlfriend Vanessa turned out to be a lipstick bisexual and they split over Jess's anxiety at not being able to please her like a man.
    • Felix's sister Leslie is also a lipstick bisexual, it's revealed.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: It turns out keeping Josh out of knowing that Jimmy McKay was the dirty connection for Trey and Murphy trying to bring him down was a very bad idea.
  • Loophole Abuse: It looks as if Dean is finished after Murphy records a confession on her phone. But in Illinois, a recording without two party consent is not admissible in court. Dean is able to use this to convince his captain that he can stay undercover inside Nia's operation to atone for his actions, meaning, to Murphy's shock, Dean is never even arrested for Tyson's murder.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Jess, who's feminine, and her second girlfriend Sterling, who has very butch looks in comparison.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: After Murphy's threeway with Felix and another woman, all three have the bedsheet covering their chests.
  • Nepotism: Murphy's parents run a school for guide dogs and employ her, even though she doesn't really do anything. Eventually, once the receptionist quits (to be an actor in Hollywood), she's promoted to being the receptionist, even though she really hasn't shown the people skills required. Subverted in that she ends up being quite good at it.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: In the third season premiere, Gene is thrown to realize that the police are still ready to cover up Dean's murders even after his suicide so as not to hurt the department.
  • Never Suicide: Sam habitually makes her hits look like suicides, according to Stirling. Within the show, we see this when she murdered Detective Becker.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Jess goes out to get tampons on the road because she's starting her period.
  • Obfuscating Disability: A unique variation. Murphy truly is blind and often has a hard time getting around because of it. However, she enjoys playing up being far more helpless and unobservant than she really is as part of her schemes, knowing folks will assume her blindness also affects her mental process. A common trick is Murphy acting like she can't go more than five steps without bumping into something when she's far better trained to adjust to her surroundings. She also uses the excuse of clothing being off as not being able to see how she was dressing when she learned long ago how to tell if a shirt is inside out or not.
  • Off on a Technicality: After the trouble which Murphy goes to getting Dean's confession recorded on her phone, it can't be used because in Illinois recordings required both parties' consent. On top of all that, the police captain agrees to have the evidence destroyed rather than reveal it so he'd at least be fired and publicly excoriated, as he's still useful plus he would make the guy look bad as his superior.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Max recovers very quickly from being stabbed multiple times in the abdomen (which could be fatal, realistically, or at least very debilitating).
  • Papa Wolf: Josiah kills the men threatening his two kids the first chance he gets.
  • Parents as People: It's clear that even though Murphy's parents are trying their best, they have their own flaws, too.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Felix is easily able to crack his sister's Leslie's phone password..
    Felix: Your own birthday, you narcissist...
  • Properly Paranoid: Josh grows obsessed with getting Murphy after finding that she was involved with drug dealers (unwilling, though he won't believe that), and is convinces she's still doing so in jail. Gene's had it by then and won't listen to him, but Josh is right, she's involved with a gang leader in jail who trafficks drugs (but only for protection).
  • Really Gets Around: Murphy, before her relationship with Max, appears to have men over for casual sex with a very high frequency.
  • The Reveal: Dean murdered Tyson to cover up the fact he was working for Nia.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Jess and Sterling decide to hit the road, leaving Chicago behind, rather than staying trapped in the drug game.
    • Also applies to Jess again in season 3 who fakes her death and leaves everyone behind, in order to try to have a normal life again.
  • Secretly Wealthy: The gang are all amazed to discover Felix's family is rich and he works at the vet clinic because he likes it.
  • Sex for Solace: Murphy likes having sex, but not romance. Tyson tells her that it's because when she's having sex, she feels just like everyone else "because we all do it with our eyes closed." She doesn't disagree.
  • Shameful Strip: Josiah orders Murphy to strip as proof she's not wired. This means naked, rather than just to her underwear. Felix however just gets a pat down. Murphy does it unhappily.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles", "O Holy Night" plays as Josiah's arcade burns down presumably with Jess still inside.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: In Season 4, after each is kicked out by Leslie and their car stolen, Felix moans "we are at rock bottom" and have nowhere to go. Max just stares at him before pointing out Felix can simply call his millionaire grandmother to let them stay at her mansion for a while.
  • Take Me Instead: Josiah offers himself instead of his wife and kids when they're threatened by cartel hitmen, to no effect.
  • The Tell: Season 4 lampshades how whenever she lies, Murphy automatically brushes her hair back. Some characters are better than others spotting this.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: In the series finale, Murphy decides to become the murderer that Josh painted her as, telling him as much before she kills him.
  • Threeway Sex: In Season 3, Murphy has one with Felix and another woman they meet while on the run, to cover up who they are partly but also as Sex for Solace on Murphy's part.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The commercials aired on the CW before Season 1 only showed Murphy's blind snarkery and comedic beats with other characters, disguising it as a straight comedy and completely hiding the thriller and mystery elements of the show.
  • Twofer Token Minority:
    • Murphy is a blind woman and the protagonist.
    • Jess, her friend and housemate, is a lesbian who's olive-skinned.
    • Jess' first girlfriend, Vanessa, is also olive-skinned (played by Latina actress Humberly González, who's Venezuelan-Canadian).
    • Nia is a black woman who leads a criminal syndicate.
    • Sam is a black lesbian who serves as one of Nia's enforcers.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Gene is ordered to do this and fired when he lets Murphy escape from underneath his nose.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In the penultimate episode, Josh learns how Murphy is getting a deal to bust McKay as part of the drug operation. Convinced that the man is a 'saint' and Murphy is the one selling drugs, Josh calls up McKay to warn him of Murphy. This leads to a fight ending with Max being killed.
  • Wall Bang Her: Murphy has sex with Max up against a tree in the woods at one point.
  • Wham Shot: The season 3 finale has Murphy in jail when Sam sits next to her with a smug "hello."