Not all tragedies come with some greater meaning. In Quibi’s When the Streetlights Go On, this lesson is key to coming of age — though it may frustrate viewers who were hoping to crack the mystery of Chrissy Monroe’s (Kristine Froseth) murderer before the show’s finale. The truth is, while you could potentially deduce the killer, that was never the point.
When the Streetlights Go On is told from the perspective of Charlie (Chosen Jacobs), the neighbor of the Monroe sisters. When Chrissy is murdered alongside her high school teacher and secret boyfriend (Mark Duplass), it’s Charlie who finds the bodies, a moment in time that forever shatters his innocence. Charlie attempts to put the pieces of the murders together, but as his journalism teacher Mr. Boque (Tony Hale) wisely reminds him, some mysteries don’t provide the endings we need or want.
When the Streetlights Go On reveals Chrissy’s murderer in the finale of the 10-episode series. Chrissy’s sister Becky Monroe (Sophie Thatcher) returns home from the movies with Charlie, who has a huge crush on her. Becky invites Charlie over, but he declines, citing a paper he needs to write. As Becky walks towards her door, she’s stopped by her neighbor in the cul-de-sac, the dentist Mr. Jablonski. He invites her inside to take some old records, and Becky accepts. As Becky follows him inside, it’s revealed that Mr. Jablonski’s shoe pattern makes an “XO” pattern in the snow, the same boot print found at Chrissy’s crime scene.
There was a “pretty big clue” to Mr. Jablonski’s role in the crime in the second episode, director Rebecca Thomas told Refinery29 over the phone. It’s in this episode where we see the shoe print, and also Mr. Jablonski at Chrissy’s funeral. In the third episode, which Thomas also teases contains a clue, Mr. Jablonski can be seen barbecuing.
Shortly after Charlie leaves Becky, she is reported missing. Weeks later, Becky is found murdered, and eventually, Mr. Jablonski is caught for his crimes. The mystery is over, but Charlie never forgets the Monroe sisters, or the impact their deaths had on his teenage years.
The “whodunnit” element of Streetlights, as it turns out, was never really the story. Though the killer ended up being someone no one suspected, suspicion around who could have committed the crimes brought about its own darkness. Casper Tatum (Sam Strike), the first suspect and later Becky’s boyfriend, left town and died of a drug overdose. Brad (Ben Ahlers), whom Casper attacked at a party after Brad accused him of killing Chrissy, was permanently maimed from the fight and lost his chance to play basketball in college.
When the Streetlights Go On is a chilling little suburban story — albeit what is so frightening about it may not be what was expected. Instead, it's the idea that we may be forced to grow up too fast due to circumstances beyond our control, that prove the world is more dangerous than we've ever known it to be.