DISCLAIMER: This is a spoiler filled recap for episode 3 of Defending Jacob, “Poker Faces”. Viewer discretion is advised.
In the previous episode of Defending Jacob, Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber (Chris Evans) receives some shocking news. Not only is he being taken off of the Ben Rifkin (Liam Kilbreth) case, his son Jacob (Jaeden Martell) is the prime suspect. Because of a fingerprint left on the body, 14-year-old Jacob is arrested. Although, thanks to a whole bunch of incriminating photos on his phone, Leonard Patz (Daniel Henshall) is looking more and more suspicious.
In this new episode, “Poker Faces”, Andy admits a family secret to his wife, Laurie (Michelle Dockery), before it becomes public knowledge.
At home Jacob discovers the police confiscated his computer and cellphone. Andy tries to explain it away as standard procedure. It’s clear Jacob isn’t buying it. Not really. Though he decides not to push the conversation any further. Instead he decides to go to bed, allowing his folks to breathe a collective sigh of relief as they embrace in the kitchen.
Meanwhile, Jacob’s classmate Sarah (Jordan Alexa Davis) is at home doing school work when she gets a phone call from Derek (Ben Taylor). She appears reluctant to answer the call. She decides to answer it anyway. It’s a short conversation. Derek tries to vent about Jacob calling him and having to speak with Joanna. But Sarah is far from interested. She makes up a quick excuse to hang up the phone.
Back at the Barber’s, Laurie is glued to the TV. It is just as Joanna said. News commentators dissect every second of Jacob’s walk from the courthouse. “In my experience, what we say today, the body language, the cold stare, the avoidance of any eye contact, it’s not a good look for someone accused of a crime of this magnitude.” In the public eye Jacob looks smug and remorseless. Andy convinces her to shut the TV off.
Apparently there is a more pressing issue to discuss. Something shocking that may become public knowledge soon; a family secret.
It isn’t until the following day that Jacob (as well as the viewers) know what that secret it is. The family meets Joanna at her office. Joanna, as straightforward as ever, lays it all down. She explains that the theory is that Ben Rifkin was bullying Jacob. He got a knife, and, when the opportunity presented itself, Jacob took his revenge.
Jacob insists this isn’t true. “He was a dick to a lot of people. Not just me.” On top of this fairly sound theory, Joanna explains there are holes in Jacob’s story. The case is very circumstantial so Joanna is confident.
It is here Laurie urges Andy to tell them what he told her last night. It’s better Jacob hears it now rather than on the news. The truth? Apparently, there is a history of violence in the Barber family. Andy’s father didn’t actually abandon his family when Andy was a baby. He was sent to prison. For murder. “He killed a girl…She was a student at the community college. They found her body in a boarded-up row house on Congress Ave. She had been stabbed to death.”
Laurie is concerned this information will be used against Jacob. She is concerned the prosecution will somehow use this information to argue a genetic predisposition. It will appear Jacob was a natural born killer in the truest sense. Joanna doesn’t appear all that concerned about it. In fact she finds it ridiculous. Even if prosecution decides to bring it up in court she is willing to fight it tooth and nail.
Jacob isn’t taking the news well. He’s angry at his father for keeping this a secret. With that Joanna decides to call it a day.
Later, Andy decides to go on a little field trip. He is waiting outside the home of Detective Pam Duffy (Betty Gabriel) when she pulls into her driveway. Andy needs a favor and it’s a big one. He asks Duffy for Patz’s file. He is convinced the police has made a huge mistake taking Patz off their radar.
Duffy explains that she hasn’t forgotten about Patz. But there isn’t much she can do. All the evidence points in one direction. Duffy isn’t willing to turn over the file. Andy’s gut feeling isn’t worth her losing her job.
Back at the grand jury indictment Neil wants Andy to describe those first few weeks after Jacob’s arrest. He’s curious about the atmosphere in the household. As expected Jacob shut down for some time. Thanks to the TV and social media, he was growing more aware of his infamy.
He was urged not to look. So Andy and Laurie decided to get him back on track with his school work. They hired a tutor. And in his free time, “Like I said, he just kinda retreated into himself. We all did, to some degree.” Overall it was just a difficult time for the Barbers. This includes Laurie.
We see just how difficult things get when Laurie tries to return to work. Her co-workers are shocked to see her. Although they try to go about their business like things aren’t super awkward. That is until the end of the day. When her supervisor comes into her office, she explains she just got off a conference call with some board members. This includes legal advisory.
The consensus is that Laurie’s return to work is premature. So she is asked to leave for the time being. It’s just not the right time for her to be there. Laurie does her best to hold back tears as she leaves the building.
At home Jacob is reminded to be careful online. Including when he is trash talking with strangers over video games. Even with the few friends that still talk to him. Such as a boy named Dylan who informed Jacob earlier that he was famous. There is even a fan page online started by some girl in Ohio. It’s some serious temptation for Jacob. He really wants to see what people are saying about him. Andy, on the other hand, is not impressed.
Just then Andy gets a text from Duffy. She apparently had a change of heart and left Patz’s file in Andy’s mailbox. The same time Andy goes to retrieve it, Laurie pulls into the driveway and makes a startling discovery. On the family’s garage someone has spray painted ‘Murderer Rot in Hell’. Andy wastes no time getting to work scrubbing it off. It’s a task that takes up a good chunk of his evening.
The next morning Laurie goes for a run. Her usual route takes her on the edge of Cold Spring Park. It is here she discovers a memorial for Ben Rifkin. Needless to say this cuts the run short.
Turning back into the grand jury indictment, Neil wants to know how the family got into contact with Dr. Vogel (Poorna Jagannathan). Dr. Vogel is considered an authority in genetic inheritance in behavior. Despite her casual reaction to Andy’s secret, Joanna wants to be ready for anything. So, just for sh*ts and giggles, she sent Jacob to be tested by Dr. Vogel.
But before the testing, Andy and Laurie met with her first. She wants to get a clear picture of what Jacob was like as a baby. While Andy considered Jacob a fairly easy baby, Laurie is quick to contradict. Apparently Jacob was an easily irritated baby who could get violent. So much so that he once pushed a little girl off a play structure. She was hurt badly enough to need stitches. He was rough with other children so he was held back a year under a pediatrician’s recommendation.
By the end of the meeting you get the feeling Laurie is frustrated with the line of questions. You also get has some doubts about Jacob’s innocence.
Time to check in with our local creep Leonard Patz. He appears to be on his break, sitting in outside the hardware store as he stares almost longingly at a teenage boy nearby. Could Patz be prowling for his next victim?
Meanwhile Duffy gets a phone call from a hesitant Sarah. She claims to have important information about Ben’s death.
Check out Defending Jacob on Apple TV+, new episodes every Friday!