It seems that it’s never in the cards for Murphy Mason to have a happy ending.
After all of the ups and downs throughout the series, especially this season, the Murphy and Max romance came to an utterly tragic end during In The Dark Season 4 Episode 12 when Max died protecting Murphy.
If that was the penultimate episode of the season, one can’t even fathom what the series finale will entail!
The only satisfactory end for a character like Josh is death. It’s actually incredible that he’s somehow managed to surpass Dean as the most loathsome character; DEAN, the dirty cop, working with a ruthless drug dealer who murdered an unarmed Black teenager in cold blood and covered it up.
How does one manage to be more detestable than that dude?
Josh’s absolutely insane and unhinged obsession with destroying Murphy has reached a point where it’s so irritating it has somehow become comical, but that was up until his actions led to the death of a long-term, beloved character.
Now, there will most certainly be hell to pay.
Max: Are we really about to do this?
Murphy: What, take down an entire drug trade or get married?
It’s been beyond frustrating that Josh’s obsession and disgusting behavior have had space to fester and grow because he’s gone unchecked by the likes of Gene, Sarah, and C.P.D. for so long.
He’s surpassed rationale, and his quest to take down Murphy has made him become a criminal, too. He’s crossed lines; everything he proposes or executes is typically illegal. He’s assaulted people, bugged officials, hacked into things he shouldn’t have, and racked up a litany of things that should have him hauled away and thrown under the jail.
The irony is that by the time his actions and behavior are addressed, and he’s punished for them, he’ll end up in jail longer than Murphy ever was.
Of course, that’s assuming that Murphy doesn’t cross over to that dark side that everyone accuses or believes she’s on anyway and put Josh down like a dog.
They’ve had teenagers and children dying from drug overdoses because of Bolt running rampant, and the need to catch and bring down that operation has been dire because of how rampant Bolt has been running in the city.
And Josh hasn’t cared about any of that or the hundreds of lives lost or affected by this dangerous drug because all he could focus on was Murphy.
At what point does he realize that he’s the bad person? He supposedly fixated on her taking a single life while he’s been so callous about multiple lives gone or ruined.
Instead of sitting at home, listening to a podcast, and coping with the fact that he’s losing his sight, Josh was stewing once again when he learned that Murphy was offered a deal and would not be going back to prison.
In his twisted little mind, he thought it made sense for him to bug his boss’ office and actively unravel an open investigation, compromising a confidential informant and effectively ruining a sting.
What’s grinding about his deep dive into this was that Josh could uncover everything happening in a single night. Josh proved he could be an invaluable resource and asset, but instead, he’d waste his skillset on pursuing Murphy with a disturbing vendetta.
He cannot in good conscience believe that his actions wouldn’t have resulted in anything other than her death. It’s not even the first time that Josh has behaved as if Murphy hurting his freaking feelings warrants a death sentence.
But it extends beyond so much of that. Josh is so blind (pardon the pun) to his laser-focused vendetta against Murphy that he doesn’t even consider all the collateral damage that could exist in the process.
McKay: How could you do this to me?
Murphy: It’s pretty easy. Men are stupid.
He jeopardized every civilian, Darnell, and for all he knew, Sarah and Gene, too. He hasn’t been tuned into the Bolt investigation enough to consider all the facets of what was happening and how his actions, warning a presumably dangerous and powerful man, could affect everyone around.
When does Josh realize that he’s the monster? He’s the bad person? He’s everything he claimed he was fighting against and hated? Josh’s actions came at a terrible price, a life — Max’s life.
The past two installments have kicked things in gear in a significant way. It’s been some of the strongest hours of the series this season.
The caper style of the hour with Darnell and Murphy going undercover and Max, Felix, and Leslie assisting, too, was genuinely entertaining.
And because we knew the infamous shooting would happen, it left you on the edge of your seat at every turn.
Keston John and Perry Mattfeld have such great chemistry that it was fun to follow along with them again. The two of them posing as a couple was enough to make you wonder what things could’ve been like if they were legitimately a thing.
I mean, it’s Murphy, after all. In hindsight, it’s shocking that she and Darnell never crossed a romantic or sexual line. Goodness knows, they would have been a gorgeous couple. They both were too pretty for words — Murphy in that yellow was simply to die for, um, pun not intended.
It’s been a relief that the Darnell we liked best has been present over the past few installments, and he had his shining moments during the hour.
I could believe that he would’ve caused all kinds of harm to McKay if he touched a hair on Murphy’s head. It felt like something beyond Darnell’s role as a jealous and possessive boyfriend.
The friendship between Murphy and Darnell has been a highlight of this series over the years, and I appreciated seeing that in full display again.
They played their roles well and seemed to be having fun together despite the circumstances. The lightness and the way things were going too well, along with Darnell making up with Sarah, are the little things that made Darnell an effective red herring, however briefly, regarding the shooting.
For a few moments, it felt like Darnell could be the one to bite the bullet.
The worst part is that there’s a chance he could still meet his maker thanks to Gene and Sarah taking down Trey. Obviously, Trey probably would’ve put two and two together anyway when Darnell didn’t show up at their meeting, but the police did.
However, Sarah essentially handed Darnell up to Trey on a silver platter when she uttered that stupid line about Darnell sending his regards. Why would you do that?
She put a target on the back of the man she claims she loves because of her need to boast. Who’s to say Trey won’t arrange a hit or something from prison?
But no, the mystery around who got shot played out as we expected, and they set up.
It was honestly hard to redeem Max from his litany of actions throughout the season. But we have learned a significant amount about him throughout the season. It’s like we got a better peek behind who he is as a person now than we’ve ever had in the first three seasons.
Max returned to Murphy, proposing and making all of these plans felt too good to be true. The hour started with them discussing getting married and securing that house with the lemon tree. Typically once the characters start talking about these potentially happy future plans, death is right around the corner.
And Max died protecting Murphy. He made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the woman he loved. It doesn’t get more tragically poetic than that, right?
The entire situation with Murphy and McKay was a bit frustrating. Not only did McKay want to spend time with Murphy alone so he could make moves on her, but he probably wanted to cover his ass if she did flip on him because she’s blind and wouldn’t be able to I.D. him sufficiently.
I simply can’t imagine nor fully comprehend how Sarah and Gene have served as passive participants in this elaborate plan to take down McKay.
They’re the police. It made no sense that both of them had to be at the scene to bust Trey for supplying and manufacturing Bolt. Why would they leave two confidential informants uncovered at an event where they were making a buy?
What if any of Trey’s people made the call to McKay that Trey got busted, and McKay freaked out and got suspicious of Murphy and Darnell? Was there no police or anything on the scene?
Murphy and Darnell’s backup shouldn’t have been solely Max, Felix, and Leslie — the latter two only joining along by happenstance.
I loved how Felix, Max, and Leslie collaborated to sneak into the security room to turn the cameras on. Is it ludicrous that Felix and Leslie inserted themselves into this and tagged along? Yes, but they still made a fun trio.
And if it weren’t for Felix successfully pulling up those cameras, they never would’ve seen what was happening in that room with Murphy. She could’ve died right then and there.
Max and Felix’s love for Murphy is always on full display. It wasn’t surprising that both men went sailing out of that room and went into action, taking down the security guard and getting to McKay.
Credit where it’s due, Max was determined to get to his woman and kicked all kinds of ass to do it. He could not be stopped. If Murphy hadn’t said anything, he probably would’ve continued beating McKay to a bloody pulp.
If you touch her, I’ll kill you.
And Felix gave as good as he got even though he’s clearly not a fighter or brawler. Felix pulling that guard’s ponytail was a moment that made you chuckle.
However, it got dicey when executing the next few moments. I understand that Murphy couldn’t see and Max was only focused on getting her out of there, but it was only pure luck that Felix still pulled off restraining that guard.
Out of the two men, Max had a better shot at restraining the guard until Murphy and Felix were safely in the elevator. Leaving Felix behind was such an unusual choice, even for a Murphy-obsessed Max.
But it all led to McKay swiping the guard’s gun and shooting. You could see how stunned he was that he even did it; I appreciate that choice.
Otherwise, it would be a nitpick that this powerful, well-known man casually shot a man in the middle of a hotel hallway after stepping away from his own donation party, where dozens of people were.
The moments following were some of the best sequences of the hour. Murphy’s relief that they made it into the elevator juxtaposed with Max bleeding out and trying to tell her was just perfectly done and heartbreaking.
And while a part of me lost it over the constant blurriness until the final scene, I cannot deny how evocative and effective that stylistic choice was.
They transported us into Murphy’s point of view. It was very much reminiscent of In the Dark Season 3 Episode 2 when Murphy realized that Jess had left her at the station and she was all alone.
I absolutely adore this stylistic choice because it heightens the emotions and anxiety of what’s happening onscreen by dulling most viewers’ senses.
You can’t say the blurred-out nature of everything didn’t add to the intensity of the situation leading to the crushing conclusion that Max was dead.
Kudos to Perry Mattfeld and Morgan Krantz for their execution of these moments via just their voices. We couldn’t see anything happening, but they both conveyed so much through their tone and infliction in their voices that you hung onto every word, breath, and tone.
Murphy’s watery exclaim that she was Max’s wife was a gut punch. Felix’s shock and genuine concern poured through each line of his dialogue.
Mrs. Parish, Mrs. Parish, I’m so sorry. We did everything we could, but he didn’t make it.
And then everything cleared, and we had that visually stunning shot of the bottom of Murphy’s bloodstained yellow dress as she slowly walked down the hall with Felix’s assistance to feel Max one last time.
It’s one of those images that will just sit with you for a bit, haunt you even. It was such a breathtaking moment; Murphy lying against Max’s chest, her hair splayed on the pillow behind her, was equally as stunning.
There were many moments throughout the hour where there was a genuine appreciation and admiration for the directorial choices.
Offhand, I can point to Murphy and Darnell’s moments in the hotel room, elevator scenes, and how they entered the caper. Josh attacking the steel door was well crafted as well the shots of him in his apartment showcasing just how far gone he was.
Max and Murphy preparing for the operation was done well too. Felix, Max, and Leslie’s security room shenanigans and Murphy’s time with McKay were all well-crafted.
But from the shooting onward, particularly the dress mentioned above and hospital bed shots, I looked up to see who the director behind this installment was because they absolutely slayed it.
The hour was directed by the supremely talented Malakai directed the episode and written by Yael Zinkow & Jeannine Renshaw. The D.O.P. behind this hour deserves their kudos as well.
The death outcome of this installment will likely be difficult for many viewers. Obviously, there were many Max fans, and it’s heartbreaking for devoted ‘shippers that Max and Murphy couldn’t get their happily ever after.
Murphy: You okay?
Felix: I don’t know. No? But Trey and Jimmy were arrested so you’re actually free. Do you need anything? Food, water, anything?
Murphy: I need you to sit with me.
Their relationship was a toxic rollercoaster ride, but it’s still a devastating development. Max is a man who never got to live the simple, happy life that he aspired to have.
And Murphy can’t ever seem to be happy. She keeps losing the people she loves most in this world. She’s an undeniably toxic person, but she’s not an inherently bad one who deserves the pain that she’s been forced to endure.
As the series finale approaches, the show swung from the fences and went big with this move. When you consider how dark this series can get and the level of danger and trouble they’ve gotten into it, in hindsight, it’s surprising that they haven’t had a significant character death like this before.
Ripping the love of Murphy’s life away from her in such a tragic way right before the last episode ever is a bold and controversial move.
They telegraphed and foreshadowed this death the entire season, and it was still jarring to witness it unfold before our eyes like this.
You almost anticipated that they would walk it back or fall just short. We knew someone would get shot, and the likelihood that it was Max was strong.
But for it to result in actual death — it’s a lot to process. Where does this put Murphy now?
She really doesn’t have anyone left but Felix. I can’t imagine how she’d function anymore without him.
Max dying will break Murphy. I don’t know how she carries on, and there’s a legitimate concern that so much of her growth could come to a screeching halt amid her grief and rage.
Max’s death sets things up for us to see and experience a side of Murphy that we’ve never witnessed before, which is intriguing and compelling.
It’s such a turning point in the series and for Murphy’s characterization that it adds to the bittersweetness of the series concluding. I have no doubt Perry Mattfeld could’ve worked magic with exploring the version of a grieving Murphy without Max.
Rest in peace, Max Parish, that was a rough one, and undeniably a difficult thing to process for the diehard fans and shippers.
Over to you, In the Dark Fanatics. Were you surprised by this death? How do you feel about it? Let’s discuss everything and pour one out for Max Parish below.
If you need to process that shocking death or relive the best of Murphy and Max, you can watch In The Dark online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.