It’s the final episode of Apple TV+’s newest hit, Defending Jacob. Episode 7 saw Jacob’s trial, and the slow climb to what was beginning to look like a conviction for Neal Loguidice and the Commonwealth, until we see Leonard Patz scrawling a confession down, tears streaming down his face in the final moments. Episode 8 takes us on a journey of what happens after Jacob’s trial …
Andy’s is woken early in the morning on the couch by his phone. It’s Joanna, and she’s bearing great news. It’s over. Patz confessed and then committed suicide. The cops confirmed his handwriting, it’s over.
Jacob’s case is dismissed. He’s a free man. They leave the court for the final time, a weight lifted from their shoulders as it was not only a not guilty verdict, but proof of innocence. As the Barbers bade goodbye to Joanna in the parking garage, Ben Rifkin’s father, Dan, approaches them, looking furious, Father O’Leary following quickly behind him.
Dan runs to the Barbers, screaming he knows it was Jacob, he knows it, before Father O’Leary grabs him and throws him face down against the nearest car, pinning him, asking Andy what he wants him to do with him? Laurie insists they let him go, and Father O’Leary reveals himself as an old friend of Andy’s father, who had asked him to look out for them. He tells them congratulations, that today was Jacob’s lucky day, before asking Andy to give Billy his best.
In present day, Loguidice asks Andy if life went back to normal, and Andy responds “no, there was no normal to go back to, there was just before and after.” He recalls the family wanting to move, because despite Jacob’s innocence, they were still not welcome in Newton any longer.
Back in the days following Jacob’s trial, Laurie is feeling guilty for ever thinking Jacob was guilty. Andy tells her it’s okay, for a minute he doubted it too.
At dinner one day, Laurie tells Jacob and Andy their reservation for Christmas in Mexico was confirmed. They’d all but forgotten those plans from before the trial.
Andy meets with Lynn, who asks him to return to work, but Andy refuses. He just can’t do it anymore after experiencing what it was like on the other side. He commends Neal, and tells Lynn to hold on to him. She bades him goodbye before letting him know the Patz investigation is wrapped up, and he questions that he thought it already had. A few things hadn’t been adding up, but everything settled and it was now closed. When Andy loads up the last of his belongings from the office, he sees the tire iron he had threatened Father O’Leary with in the weeks before trial, and his mind wanders.
When he gets home his mind is still stuck on Father O’Leary, and the next day, when Laurie heads out with Jacob to buy some new swim gear for Mexico, he heads to Connecticut for a visit with his father.
Furious, Andy asks his father if he did it, if he hired Father O’Leary to get Jacob cleared, because he’d read the report from the crime scene, and he knew it wasn’t a suicide. Billy denies it, saying he’s never heard of a Father O’Leary, but Andy knows. An old Lincoln was seen outside of Patz’s apartment that night. Then, we see the truth, Father O’Leary holding a gun to Patz’s head as he wrote the confession before murdering him to appear as a suicide. Andy is left in an impossible position of not letting his father getting away with it, and putting Jacob back in the hot seat.
You can be a good man. Or you can be a good father. Me, I’m neither, I know that. But you get to choose. – Billy Barber
Andy is haunted by this revelation. Laurie notices the change in his demeanor, but Andy brushes it off, blaming the move and a new career. He tells her they should leave now — he wants to escape this old life. Laurie reminds him that they promised no more secrets, but Andy knows he can’t keep that.
The Barbers arrive in Mexico, and Jacob immediately befriends a teen girl, Hope, staying at their resort. On New Year’s Eve, Jacob and Hope make plans to head out to a bonfire just outside the hotel, Andy and Laurie enjoy the only time, beginning with dinner. When Andy and Laurie arrive home that night, Jacob is already back, in a new shirt, saying that he and Hope had gotten into an argument and he left early. However, the next morning, Jacob is held and questioned by the police. Hope is missing.
They didn’t believe Jacob’s story, they questioned the Barbers for three hours, took their passports and told them not to leave the hotel — 24 hours later, she was still missing. In bed that night, Laurie brings up that Jacob’s shirt was missing, and it sends both of their thoughts reeling.
Laurie wakes a few hours later, and Andy is gone. He’s sitting on the balcony, incoherently drunk, and he confesses to Laurie the truth about his father, and Father O’Leary killing Patz, and Laurie knows that Jacob might not actually be innocent of killing Ben Rifkin after all. Andy, in his drunken state, says he’s not sure if Jacob had anything to do with Hope, and he asks Laurie if he should tell the police. She leaves him outside.
The next morning, Hope was found. (Book fans will note a small change in the plot.) She had been slipped a roofie at the party, and was found at a man’s home outside the resort. The Barbers leave Mexico three days early. And things were never the same.
Laurie shut down. This new revelation haunted her day and night, and Andy’s dishonesty had only fueled her panic and fears.
In the Supreme Court hearing in present day, Neal questions Andy about Laurie, and the change that had happened after Mexico. He denies it, nothing had changed, everything was fine. But Neal asks him why she isn’t here today?
Back in the winter after the trip to Mexico, Laurie has to run some errands, leaving Andy and Jacob at home. Jacob has noticed the change in her, she’s more quiet than usual. Andy tells him she has a lot on her mind, she just needs some time. The two are playing a board game, and Andy can’t find a move, to which Jacob responds, “it’s cause you don’t have one.”
Laurie is outside of the Rifkin’s home. She peers inside the window and see’s Ben’s mother still distraught, still despondent, her hands oozing blood as she squeezes the shards of the glass she had just dropped, and Laurie knows this nightmare was partly her doing, she knows it was Jacob that killed Ben.
When she returns home, Andy is packing while Jacob is in bed. She doesn’t greet Andy when she arrives home, but he hears her going up the stairs. She heads up to bed, after telling Andy she’ll take Jake for a haircut in the morning. Andy asks her if she’s punishing him, that’s why she’s been so distant, and that she looks at Jacob… it’s not normal. Andy tries to console her, asking her if she needs more time before the move, to take what she needs, and that he loves her. She heads to bed.
The next day, as Andy is packing the house, Laurie takes Jacob for a haircut, rain pouring. She’s still visibly lost in her thoughts, and then she asks Jacob if he killed Ben as Andy finds the album of Jacob’s photos in the trash… and he didn’t put it there. Andy calls Laurie, he knows something is awry, and she ignores it. She tells Jacob that Patz was murdered, pressing him further if he killed Ben or not, Andy keeps calling. Laurie tells Jacob she doesn’t believe him, and Jacob begs her to slow down, she’s driving too fast. Jacob continues to beg her to slow down, but she doesn’t, and then he finally tells her he killed him, whatever she wants to hear just to please slow down the car. He’s terrified. She knows she’ll never know the truth. She can’t do it anymore. Jacob begs her to stop, but she doesn’t. She drives the car directly into the front of a stone overpass.
Back in present day, Neal asks again, “Why isn’t Laurie here today?” On February 22, Laurie and Jacob were rushed to the intensive care unit due to a car accident. No other cars were involved, and witnesses stated that Laurie’s car swerved off the road. Andy says she was speeding, she lost control. Neal says the other drivers in the area hadn’t noticed any attempt to right the vehicle, and that Joanna Klein had received two calls from Laurie the morning of the accident between the hours of 4 and 5 a.m., both hang ups, and that Dr. Elizabeth Vogel had received a call from Laurie at 3 a.m. that morning. Neal presses that they only want the truth, and Andy assures it was an accident. But Neal denies it, he says she was trying to kill her son, his son. And that’s what this hearing is about. This hearing we’ve been flashing back to all along has been a hearing about Laurie trying to murder Jacob.
Neal says Jacob is owed justice. No one blames Andy, he’s a victim, too. Andy would do anything for his son, and Neal begs Andy for help in delivering justice for Jacob, and for himself. Andy again states it was an accident — “she was speeding, it was raining, it was an accident.”
After the hearing, Andy heads to the hospital. Jacob has not woken up, his lifeless body still attached to tubes and machines. Laurie, however, is awake, and he tells her the news. They ruled it an accident. She is relieved, and pleads that she just wants their family back together. The nurses have stated they’ve seen promising signs Jacob will wake, and Laurie fears Jacob will think she tried to kill him. Which she did, but will Jacob remember?
Whether Andy knows the truth, or is doing everything in his power to get his life back to normal is unknown and left to interpretation, but he arrives home to his empty house, pours himself a drink and heads to Jacob’s room, sitting alone in the dark.
Stay tuned for our interview with Pablo Schreiber and a review of the complete series! We can’t wait to see what accolades Defending Jacob picks up, because the performances and stories surely have earned recognition. You can rewatch the entire series exclusively on Apple TV+.