After episode 2 of Defending Jacob, Jacob is in custody for the murder of Ben Rifkin. His fingerprint was found on the victim, and his classmates accused him online, it’s not looking good for him …
Andy has brought on Joanna Klein to help with Jacob’s case. The Barbers meet her at the courthouse garage for their pre-media briefing. They are to show no emotion until they are back in their home with the doors closed.
“Every reaction, every expression will be interpreted and used against you. Smile, and they’ll say you’re not taking it seriously. You cry, and they’ll say you’re faking it.” -Joanna Klein
The Barbers and Joanna make their way through the sea of cameras and reporters to the courthouse, straight-faced and strong. As the Barbers sit and wait for the arraignment to begin, Andy is again plagued by memories of the man with the knife from his dream, this time we see a child in a Department of Corrections visitation area and a bloody body on the ground.
Jacob enters the courtroom and the case begins. Loguidice an astronomical bail of $500,000 cash/$5 million surety, citing Andy’s closeness to the case, Jacob’s flight risk, and the savagery and likely conviction of the crime as reasoning. The courts do not see eye to eye with Loguidice, keeping the bail at $10,000/$100,000 surety, setting Jacob’s pre-trial for August 21.
The Barbers head home, Joanna, Andy, and Laurie are leading Jacob back through the swarm of media outside the courtroom. They get no reprieve from the cameras, their home surrounded by news cameras and photographers desperate for a photo of the murderer and his parents. The phone rings and Laurie is immediately shaken, Andy resigning to get the number changed tomorrow.
Laurie is watching the news, Jacob’s expressions being torn apart by the reporters just as Joanna had warned them. They accuse Jacob of looking cold and remorseless, the look of a killer. Laurie fears for Jacob’s future that this will follow him forever, no matter what the judgment may be. Andy turns it off, fidgeting and nervous. He tells her he has to tell her something, something that’s going to come up soon, something about him, about his family.
The following day, the Barbers are at Joanna’s office, and she’s giving Jacob the rundown on his rights. In the state of Massachusetts, he will be tried as an adult, which means all decision making is left to him, not her or even his parents. The running theory is that Ben was bullying Jacob, so Jacob took a knife and killed him. Laurie and Andy are taken aback by the news of Jake being bullied, and he tells him that Ben “was a dick to a lot of people, not just me.”
Laurie tells Joanna what Andy had told her the night before. There is a history of violence in their family. Andy’s father is a murderer. He was arrested when Andy was six years old and had been hiding it ever since. Joanna assures them it will have no bearing on Jacob’s case, despite the fact they know Loguidice will try to use it until Laurie brings up research she had been doing just that morning. Research on the “murder gene.” Joanna waves it off, promising they’ll fight it tooth and nail, and Jacob excuses himself to use the restroom.
Andy is upset that Laurie brought it up in front of Jacob, and she snaps that she won’t tolerate lying from either Andy or Jacob any longer. It would seem that Laurie is doubting Jacob’s innocence as she refutes Jacob’s reasoning behind his actions.
At lunch, Jacob is beginning to fear he has this “murder gene” and Andy tells him that’s why he never told Jacob about his past, he wanted him to have a clean slate in life.
Andy is waiting at Duffy’s house when she arrives home that night with her daughter, where he begs for her help in continuing the pressure on Leonard Patz. He wants his file. She refuses.
Back to the present day, Andy is being asked to describe the first few weeks after Jacob’s arrest, where he gives a sarcastic response to it beginning with a Sunday. Loguidice rewords his questions, asking for the atmosphere in the Barber home after that fateful day, and Andy tells him to just have the balls to ask him if Jacob seemed guilty. To which Andy responded that he had no idea, he had been torn away from everything he knew, and began to detail the bullying that Jacob went through at the hands of Ben Rifkin. Then, in true honesty, said Jacob had shut down. A tutor was hired to help Jacob finish out his school year, and he had been searching himself on the internet. “It was just a really hard time,” Andy admitted.
Back to the weeks following Jacob’s arrest, Laurie returned to work, her coworkers shocked. But the same day, she was told not to come back until the case was resolved (in Jacob’s favor undoubtedly), as her association with the school might hinder prospective parents from wanting to send their children to the school.
Andy is at home with Jacob, stopping him from saying anything overly violent on his video game’s chat. Jacob tells his father Dylan, one of his school friends, found a fan page made by a girl in Ohio based around Jacob, that he’s famous. Andy isn’t impressed and tells him to stay off of the page. Andy gets a text from Duffy, telling him to check his mailbox.
A large yellow envelope is waiting. It’s Patz’s file, Duffy came through. Laurie arrives home, and the couple spotted something appalling — MURDERER ROT IN HELL graffitied on their garage door. Laurie is shaken, breaking into tears as she gets into her bathroom, Jacob can’t see her like this. Andy is scrubbing the words clean well into the night, and still can’t get it all the way clean.
Laurie is out for her morning run, her mind flashing to violent actions in Jacob’s past — was it just him being a kid, or were there signs all along pointing towards something much more sinister?
In the present day courtroom, Loguidice asks Andy about the decision to hire Dr. Elizabeth Vogel, an expert in genetic inheritance and behavior. While Joanna didn’t believe the stigma around the “murder gene,” she was a good enough lawyer to know they might need a defense against it.
Andy and Laurie had met with Dr. Vogel first, having a meeting with her explaining their history as a couple, Jacob’s childhood, and when asked about how Jacob was as an infant, the two have very different answers — Laurie says difficult, while Andy says beautiful. Laurie describes Jacob as a baby who constantly cried like he was being tortured. Again, when asked if he was quick to console, their answers are opposite, Laurie says no, Andy saying yes. Andy admits to Jacob having tantrums, Laurie detailing them as much more than that, stating he’d throw things and scream for hours. Dr. Vogel finds nothing too unusual in these behaviors, Andy thankful and accusing his wife of being a bit dramatic.
They move on to Jacob’s interactions with other children, where Laurie confesses he was too rough with the kids in daycare as a toddler, at one point pushing a girl off of the play gym to where she required stitches, along with some biting. Andy calls the other parents neurotic. Andy and Laurie begin to argue that Andy never took Jacob’s transgressions seriously, but Andy maintained his stance that Jacob was a normal little boy, his pediatrician agreeing with Andy. And after some time, Jacob balanced, just as Andy and the doctor thought he would. Then, Laurie slips up the facade when she defends her position on Jacob’s childhood behavior being abnormal by referring to their current situation. Dr. Vogel asks her what she meant by that, and Laurie assures her that she didn’t believe Jacob to be guilty.
When they return home, Laurie’s best friend Toby is waiting with dinner for the family, but when Laurie comes inside, she’s devastated to learn that Toby’s husband will no longer allow her to see Laurie, and she wanted to tell her face to face.
Leonard Patz is outside a scrap yard, watching a teenage boy and his father talk with a salesman.
Sarah, Jacob’s classmate, calls Duffy.
Andy is searching for Laurie at home. He finds her outside painting over what’s left of the graffiti on their garage door.
Will the Barbers gain make any of the normalcy? Does Laurie doubt her son’s innocence? The next episode of Defending Jacob will be available to stream next Friday, May 1 on Apple TV+.