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The ending of Into the Dark: The Current Occupant explained

Contains spoilers for the Into the Dark episode "The Current Occupant"

Into the Dark is a Blumhouse-produced, Hulu-released horror series with an experimental release schedule. Every month the series yields a new film-length episode based on a different concept. You can think of it like an anthology series with extended stories, like a super-sized Black Mirror. Many Into the Dark episodes correspond thematically with the major holiday of their release month. There have already been multiple episodes dedicated to Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, for instance.

Since July 4th is Independence Day, the latest episode of Into the Dark, "The Current Occupant," focuses on something a little more political: A tale about an amnesiac, asylum patient who may (or may not) actually be a detained President of the United States.

Here's the set-up: (maybe) President Henry Cameron (Barry Watson) becomes a patient in a mysterious psych ward after he is, allegedly, shot. Doctor Larson (Sonita Henry) puts Henry through bizarre, A Clockwork Orange-esque experiments to "cure" him, while fellow patient Helen (Lilli Birdsell) and nurse Eliza (Kate Cobb) try to convince Henry that he is the president. In fact, Henry is more than just the president (so they say); he's a president trapped in an elaborate conspiracy designed by his vice president to take control of the country.

Over the course of an hour and a half, we begin to question whether the conspiracy is real, or Henry Cameron is just a very sick man. Here's the spoiler-filled answer.

President Henry Cameron?

There's a lot of evidence to suggest that Henry is the president. When Helen tells Henry she is his Secretary of State, though, there's reason for doubt; the first time she meets Henry she screams, "I saw you on the TV" like a maniac. In every scene that follows, however, Helen seems measured and calm — even when she's explaining their dire circumstances. 

Here's Helen's version of events: After an assassination attempt, Henry was hospitalized. The vice president used this scenario to take power. They're essentially held hostage as part of an unseen coup. Helen states this explanation calmly and succinctly. There's nothing to suggest that a vice president couldn't (or wouldn't) manipulate the president if given the opportunity. 

Helen also insists Henry isn't in a hospital at all, but a subterranean facility beneath the White House. There's an enormous, ominous handprint reader located by the only visible elevators guarding the only mode of escape from the psych ward. The handprint reader itself does not look remotely like anything located in any hospital or nursing facility you've ever seen, which makes it plausible that there's something top secret about the facility's location. 

Nurse Eliza tells Henry very directly that he's the president and that he needs to escape before it's too late. They also find files of a political nature, which Dr. Larson attempts to withhold from Henry throughout most of the plot.

All of this evidence suggests that it is at least possible that Henry is, in fact, the president, and that he is being held as part of a conspiracy to destroy his psyche and permanently place the vice president in charge of the United States.  

Henry is not the president on The Current Occupant

Unfortunately for Henry, that's just not the case. The actual explanation for Henry's circumstance is only marginally more plausible than what he thinks, but infinitely sadder. When Dr. Larson finally lets Henry read the secret political documents, they reveal that Henry was never the president, but rather a failed political hopeful. The man ran for office multiple times, but always lost. 

The only person who stood by Henry during his time running for office was his wife, Eliza, who turns out not to be a nurse. Tragically, when Eliza and Henry went to see the actual president speak, they were inadvertently harmed during an assassination attempt on the president's life. After the attack, Henry suffered amnesia and Eliza died. Henry is shown surveillance footage of each occasion wherein he thought he was talking to Eliza, but all the video shows is Henry talking to himself. Nurse Eliza is a delusion of Henry's amnesiac mind as he struggles to remember and accept the truth of Eliza's death. 

Eventually, Henry captures Dr. Larson and uses her hand-print to get on the elevator to escape. At first the elevator seems to lead him to the White House where Helen and everyone else is waiting for him to take control as president once more. But as Henry gives his speech as the duly elected President of the United States, the lights around him begin to flash brighter and brighter until we discover he is still in the elevator. The doors to the elevator open to reveal his orderly (Marvin Jones III), and Henry is returned back to the very real psych ward where he belongs.