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Into the Dark - My Valentine - Review

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When the latest episode of Into the Dark starts, we see a girl buying beer from a convenience store, walking out of the store, and proceeding to try to tear down 15 or so posters of a blue-haired pop star we haven’t met yet. The girl pulls down her hood and we’re introduced to Valentine Fawkes (Britt Baron - GLOW, Grey’s Anatomy) listening to a podcast on learning to break from co-dependency. It’s clear from the start that not only are we starting this story at the end, but we’ll be having several flashbacks throughout, which is something Into the Dark is a fan of.

 We get shots of different social media messages, reviews, and music charts all praising an up and coming pop star, Trezzure, who we find out is the star in the posters Valentine was trying to tear down. The tone changes, and we instead start seeing messages about Valentine - calling her a thief, a fraud, a liar. She’s being accused of stealing Trezzure’s identity - and her songs. The final shot of this compilation is on a Trezzure message board, where a man makes a post inviting people to come heckle Valentine at her upcoming show at a bar.

 Here we’re introduced to three more of the very few characters in this story: Julie, Nick, and Rosa. Julie (Anna Akana - Miss 2059, Ant-Man, A Million Little Things) is Valentine’s guitarist and best friend. Nick (Shaun J. Brown - The Great Indoors, Future Man) and Rosa (Tiffany Smith - Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal) are a duo who had a set at the bar earlier in the evening.

 When Valentine and Julie’s set ends, they discover that Valentine’s abusive ex, Royal (Benedict Samuel - Gotham, The Walking Dead) is in the building. Since Royal paid a bartender to clear the bar, when Valentine and Julie finally greet him, it’s just him and the hecklers. Royal starts “telling the story” about him and Valentine; that they met in a whirlwind romance, he made her who she was, and that then she broke up with him. Obviously.

 It’s this moment that we meet Trezzure (Anna Lore - Faking It, Doom Patrol) our bubbly, ditzy pop star who got bored of waiting in the car for Royal. We go through all the motions anyone who’s seen any horror movie or Into the Dark episode would expect; Royal has the hecklers/fans guard the door outside, he smashes Julie and Valentine’s phones, and we start our first flashback. Royal, upset that Valentine hasn’t paid any attention to him recently, tosses her phone and then proceeds to choke her because she gets upset with him about it. He plays up the routine all abusers do: I’m so sorry, I’ll never do it again, I’ll call my therapist tomorrow. Boyfriend of the year! Valentine, clearly shaken, forgives him, because what else are you supposed to do when the man who just choked you is seemingly regretful?

 We go through a few more flashbacks until we really pick up; Royal and Valentine in a records shop, dancing to a disco song, them making out in the back of a car, them backstage at a show. Then, Royal pulls out a knife, claims he isn’t going to do anything with it and proceeds to stab Julie, who threw herself at him trying to protect Valentine. Valentine runs to try to get help, Trezzure suggests calling an ambulance, and Royal stands and watches Julie die, later upset that he didn’t record her last breath.

 He, of course, claims it’s an accident and that situations like this are the reason he and Trezzure have a legal team. Uh, yeah. Not for copyright issues and recording contracts, definitely for murder. We hear a noise in a back room, and as Royal goes to investigate, we see Valentine ready to smash a cinderblock on Trezzure’s head. What Royal finds is the bartender he paid off earlier, Eddie (Sachin Bhatt - DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Santa Clarita Diet) cowering, calling 911.

While Royal and Eddie fight, Valentine tries to talk some sense into Trezzure. She says they can run away together, call the police when they get out, and end it. When she realizes Trezzure isn’t budging, Valentine starts comparing her abuse to Trezzure’s, and we get a few scenes of Royal indeed abusing Trezzure - telling her to watch her weight, repeating exact lines that Valentine quotes as things he said to her as well.

When Trezzure decides she’s heard enough from Valentine, we cut back to Royal, who is now taking this opportunity to record the last few breaths Eddie will ever take. Trezzure finds him, and is, for maybe the first time in this entire episode, finally showing us some emotion. We get into some bickering between Royal and Trezzure - she’s upset that Royal killed yet another person, and Royal is somehow blaming her for it.

We flash back to the beginning scene of the episode - Valentine in front of the posters she tried to destroy, hand covered in blood, sitting on the curb outside the convenience store. Julie walks up to her and they talk for a few minutes before Valentine says that she’s ready to reclaim who she is; she’s ready to start singing her music again. Julie, clearly proud of her best friend, looks her in the eye and says “Valentine Fawkes, you’ve got this.”

With this on her mind, Valentine tries, and briefly succeeds, in finding an escape. As she does, surprise, Royal finds her! He chases her! He pushes her off a building! She’s fine, though. She landed on a dumpster. Apparently, the hecklers still guarding the door aren’t too upset with seeing covered-in-blood Royal carry an unconscious Valentine back inside the bar.

When Valentine wakes up, it’s clear almost immediately that she’s given up. She starts telling Royal to just kill her, that she’s had enough, that he’s broken her into more pieces than she can fix, especially since he killed the one person she still had in her life who she cared about. Royal completely melts down after cutting the cord of the mic she’s speaking into and starts telling Valentine that Trezzure is nothing to him, she’s a poor version of Valentine, and that he wants Valentine to take him back. Trezzure, finally coming to her senses, sees when Royal put his knife into the back of his jeans and tries to take it from him.

Only for Nick and Rosa to walk back into the bar and see the giant bloodstain in the middle of the floor, causing Royal to grab his knife, taking Trezzure’s chance from her. Duh. Rosa sees the bloodstain and immediately runs to call the cops, while Royal tackles Nick, stabbing his hand to the floor and cutting his neck with a piece of wire. Again, duh. What we (maybe?) don’t expect, is Trezzure grabbing the microphone stand, walking up behind Royal, and bludgeoning him to death with it, while screaming “I’m breaking up with you!”

After this, Trezzure tries to play dumb to Valentine, saying that she and Valentine aren’t best friends because they got screwed by the same guy, and demanding that Valentine stop trying to reclaim herself and her songs. They belong to Trezzure, who has worked very hard to get to where she is right now. She’s also wielding Royal’s knife while she’s saying all of this, which, man, I really wanted to root for this girl. As she gets closer to Valentine, she’s standing in the pool of Julie’s blood, and Valentine kicks the cut microphone cord into the blood, causing Trezzure to be electrified and killed. Uh. Sure. Valentine gets up, takes back her sunglasses, and presumably takes Trezzure’s role as a widely known, incredibly successful pop star.

The end of the episode shows Valentine as Trezzure about to perform a new song at a secret surprise concert. Right before the credits roll, we get about an entire music video of just Valentine!Trezzure, singing about how she can finally be who she really is.

This episode of Into the Dark was definitely not the worst they’ve ever done, but it’s nowhere near the best. The editing was fun, with the coloring neon and poppy, the acting was fantastic all around, and Maggie Levin’s directing was from something I wouldn’t mind seeing more often.

However, there’s a lot of things I question. I know sometimes shows, especially ones like Into the Dark, or Black Mirror like to leave things open-ended, but this one felt a little too perfect to make sense to me. Surely someone would have noticed that despite having the same hair and similar faces, Valentine and Trezzure are definitely not the same people. Surely the hecklers, Trezzure’s fans, outside of the bar would’ve noticed when Valentine came out instead of Trezzure. And surely, when someone walked into that bar the next day to start working and instead found five dead bodies, someone would have called the cops, and then they would’ve questioned Valentine.

But I can understand wanting to leave that open. I can understand wanting to live in the fantasy world where Valentine gets her true dream of performing her own songs in front of an audience she built. What I can’t understand is how Into the Dark didn’t see a problem with doing an episode like this less than a year after Black Mirror had an episode about a pop singer who’s just trying to be herself in a world full of people trying to stop her.

Usually, I’d be the first one to defend the dissimilarities between Into the Dark and Black Mirror, but this time I’m not sure how much I can really separate those things and also the giant non-secret that this episode is seemingly but not confirmedly based off of a real-life situation. Last year’s Into the Dark Valentine’s Day episode was my favorite the series has ever done, and I’d like to know how you guys thought they compared.

Did you like the twists? Did you see anything coming? Let me know what you thought of the episode in the comments.

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