It's with a heavy heart that I find myself writing one final story about In the Dark, which will have its series finale Monday, September 5 on The CW. For four seasons, the show consistently proved itself one of the most well-crafted on television in recent years. It provided a voice to the visually impaired community, and for series star Perry Mattfeld, who plays Murphy Mason, the role of a lifetime. News of the cancellation hit her hard. "We had an inkling that it could go either way while we were still filming," she explained in an exclusive interview with MediaVillage. "Which, from a personal aspect, made it really hard to emotionally prepare for potentially being the end because I feel, in a way, if we'd known there would have been more celebrations along the way.
"I think I'm grieving it even more than I thought I would," she continued. "Because a lot of people wait to binge the seasons, I think once a lot of people have seen this season, they'll see it's our best. We talked about how if we got another season, it would have been a bonus and more of an epilogue; maybe with less crime, and Murphy in a completely different place -- maybe alone?
"We were also still filming during the pandemic," she continued. "We didn't necessarily get to have a wrap party and close things up how I would have loved to. But because we did have a heads up that it could go either way, our writers did a phenomenal job of giving [viewers] closure, yet potentially setting up what could be a Season 5, which is now up to the audience to dream about."
From the get-go, Mattfeld found In the Dark a difficult series to navigate, and portraying its anti-heroine lead remained a challenge throughout its run. Murphy was largely unlikeable, manipulative and brought down everyone in her orbit. Yet Mattfeld managed to keep viewers rooting for her. Professionally, Murphy was the gift that kept on giving. "Always one of the biggest challenges was the physical aspects," she shared of the character. "[Those] were something I was always practicing. If Lorri (Bernson), on whom my character was based, wasn't there in person (as a consultant), I could text and ask questions about anything concerning visual impairment. But the likeability factor was the next greatest challenge. Trying to find moments with Murphy; in between her roughness and no filter, making the audience want her to be okay, be in love, and yes, want her to be loved.
"She was the role of a lifetime," she added. "Not only was it an actor's dream to incorporate the physical, mental and emotional aspects of creating a character, but it's also rare to get to play a role for as long as I did. One that really allowed me to practice and experiment while being comforted and supported in an environment that set me up to explore and play. There's a saying in the theater that by closing night everyone feels ready to go and they've figured it out. It's when their lines make sense, the story makes sense, and over four years I got to find Murphy; learn about her, make bold choices and push myself. I'm so grateful as an artist, and also as Perry, for that chance."
After living in Murphy Mason's fur-lined coat for four years, Mattfeld revealed a little of the character had rubbed off. "I shot the pilot when I was 23," she reflected. "Now I'm turning 29, and I was not nearly as confident as I am now. Murphy was written as a flawed woman, confident, bold, who speaks her mind. I barely wore makeup on the show, and before playing her, I rarely felt confident going to the grocery store without makeup. Playing that confidence, and finding my confidence as a woman, is something I have to thank Murphy for. I was given four years of encouragement to use my voice, and that's something I've grown into."
Mattfeld is also grateful to The CW for its continued support of the series -- and for two episodes in particular this season that the network allowed be told over two parts. Both centered around Mason's criminal trial and saw a host of people she'd crossed over the years return. The episodes also provided something of an extended wrap party for the cast. "It took two weeks to film those episodes," she recalled. "Our green room was 50 people deep, and it was so fun reconnecting with the actors -- some I met four years ago -- and reminisce. That was special."
While the cast is still in touch, one co-star proved the hardest to bid farewell. Yes, Tripp, the guide dog who portrayed Pretzel for three seasons (taking over from his brother Levi in season two). "He's up in Toronto and I'm going to have to go visit him as there's no way I cannot not see him again," she insisted. "I tried to find the politest way to ask his owners, who obviously love him to death, if I could keep him. They politely responded 'absolutely not' every time. But I promised myself, and him, that we will maintain our relationship."
However, Mattfeld didn't leave the set completely empty-handed. She revealed to me a few years ago she wasn't ready to hang up Murphy's trademark coat for good, and now she can at home. "We ended up with four," she explained. "Three were covered in blood, so I got the cleanest one, which smells like dog treats. I thought maybe there'd be an awesome charity experience or something I could donate it to because it's an iconic piece.
"There's a special moment in the finale with the coat," she teased in closing. "There's closure, but in the most gut-wrenching way. It's a sad goodbye to Murphy, and an emotional transition, but it's also the beginning of a completely new chapter of her life. This show really set a standard for me. Moving forward, I want to continue to be challenged like this."
The series finale of In the Dark will be telecast Monday, September 5 at 9 p.m. on The CW.
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