DISCLAIMER: This is a spoiler filled recap for episode 4 of Defending Jacob, “Damage Control”. Viewer discretion is advised.
Last episode we learn about the brutal murder Andy’s (Chris Evans) father committed. Laurie (Michelle Dockery) is concerned this information will be used against Jacob (Jaeden Martell). She is concerned the prosecution will somehow use this information to argue a genetic predisposition. Jacob’s lawyer Joanna (Cherry Jones) decides to consult with Dr. Vogel (Poorna Jagannathan), an authority in genetic inheritance in behavior.
“Damage Control” starts off with the Barbers trying to find some kind of normalcy despite of their situation. Jacob continues to play video games and his school work in the comfort of his home. Andy gets his mind off things by swimming at the local pool. Laurie gets up extra early to insure she will be alone when she grocery shops. The struggle to find some stability is apparent. But fake it till you make it, right?
Later the family has another meeting with Joanna. As usual, she pushes Jacob for information as preparation for the potential cross examination. Jacob goes over his story again. He was taking his usual route to school when he discovered Ben Rifkin’s body, covered in leaves, at the bottom of a slope. “He wasn’t moving, so I went down the hill to see if he was hurt or something…I didn’t know what it was at first. I thought it could have been an accident.”
She points out all the holes in his story. How he didn’t call out for help at the park. How he didn’t call the police. And Derek stated that Jacob’s mood at school seemed normal, happy even. This information overwhelms Jacob so much he sheds a few tears. Joanna also questions where Jacob’s knife is. Andy confesses that he threw it away, much to Joanna’s frustration.
By the end of the meeting it’s decided Jacob won’t be testifying in his own defense. Whether it’s due to stress or guilt, he can’t seem to remember key details in his own story. Joanna is still confident though. After all the burden of proof falls on the prosecution. All the defense would have to do is attack their case until there is nothing left to attack.
Outside her office Joanna insists this is a good idea to Andy. Andy isn’t sure about the whole deflection strategy. “Juries want a story, and we gotta give ’em one. A better one.” Joanna agrees. However, all the evidence is pointing in Jacob’s direction, so what else can she do? And it certainly doesn’t help that the knife discovered in episode 2 wasn’t the murder weapon.
Joanna also warns Andy about some writers in town, hoping to publish a magazine story about the case. Her instructions are clear: no interviews. Under no circumstances are any of them allowed to talk to the press. “Any press is bad press right now.”
Meanwhile, Derek has been pulled from class. He’s been instructed to go to the principle’s office where Detective Duffy (Betty Gabriel) is waiting for him. His mom is there too, which is typical when a minor is being questioned.
At home Laurie gets something she’s been expecting in the mail. Although it isn’t addressed to her. It’s a large, thick envelope addressed to Agnes Martin, an alias. She stores the package away to examine later.
During dinner Jacob voices his frustration with how the family is dealing with this situation. “It’s like we’re trying to pretend we’re normal.” Laurie is at her wits end. “Jacob, what do you want us to do? We’ve never been in this situation before. Maybe we’re doing this wrong, acting like prisoners in our own home, sneaking out at all hours just to get a simple errand done. Just tell me what to do, because I have absolutely no idea anymore. Okay?”
Andy swoops in with a gnarly dad joke to lighten things up. And it actually works. After dinner, while Jacob and Andy are busy watching a movie, Laurie rushes upstairs to examine the mysterious envelope.
Michelle Dockery and Chris Evans in Defending Jacob. Courtesy: Apple TV
Neal (Pablo Schreiber) goes over the evidence at the grand jury indictment. And Laurie requested any and all reporting on William James Barber, Andy’s father. The reason for the pseudonym was to hide all of this from Andy.
Among the documents she received was news clippings on the murder and sexual assault William Barber committed. The crime was so brutal in nature that newspapers dubbed him ‘Bloody Billy Barber’.
Speaking of Bloody Billy! Andy wakes up from yet another dad-inspired nightmare about his father. All this talk with Dr. Vogel must be getting to him. So he gets up, walks over to the bathroom and gets himself a drink before going back to bed. Laurie, who clearly hasn’t slept a wink, softly asks him a question. “Is there a part of you, even a tiny part…thinks he might’ve done it?” Andy doesn’t hesitate. “Of course not.” Laurie doesn’t add anything else to the conversation.
The next day Andy continues his investigation into Patz. All this digging leads him to the home of Matt McGrath (Hale Lytle), a teenage boy who previously accused Patz of groping him in a library. Andy assures Matt he’s in no trouble, all he wants is information on Patz.
Matt isn’t very eager to help, especially when Andy points out all of the holes in his story. “I read that statement you gave to the police. I didn’t buy it. The only thing I’d have a harder time believing is that you were in a library.” When Andy presses Matt for information Matt’s mother intervenes and kicks Andy out of their house. She takes Andy’s business card, just in case Matt changes his mind.
Since Matt was a dead end, Andy takes his investigation to the hardware store where Patz works. From there, Andy decides to follow him. He goes from work, to a pizza shop, to his apartment, and Andy logs everything just to be precise.
Andy decides to head home, where Jacob is playing video games with Sarah. He is pleasantly surprised by the guest so he decides to leave the kids alone. Meanwhile Laurie is trying to get her mind off of basically losing her job.
Laurie finds herself at a diner where a woman strikes up a friendly conversation. She is hesitant at first, but she is also feeling lonely thanks to the loss of her friends. Laurie joins the woman at her booth where they chit chat. Eventually she discusses everything that’s going on with Jacob. She then apologizes profusely, thinking she is wasting this woman’s time with her rambling. That is until the woman informs Laurie that she is actually a reporter. Looks like Laurie didn’t get Joanne’s memo.
Embarrassed, Laurie hurries out of the diner to go home. Back at the house Andy and Jacob discuss Sarah’s visit. Andy is sure Sarah has a crush on Jacob. Jacob assures him that can’t be the case. “I think she just feels sorry for me…I think it’s more like she feels guilty…” Jacob elaborates by explaining Derek was saying a bunch of stuff about him. Sarah must feel bad for believing him at first
Jacob also informs Andy that Derek had a crush on Sarah for sometime. It’s a borderline obsession. Jacob then drops a bombshell on Andy. “I think she thinks maybe he did it. She didn’t say that. She just said she heard the cops were at school and had talked to him.” While this doesn’t necessarily mean Derek is a suspect, it certainly is fishy to Sarah and Jacob.
Later that night Jacob goes against his parents wishes and creates a new Instagram account under an alias. His motivations are surprising wholesome. He wants to follow Sarah’s account so he can see videos of her singing. Sarah is more than happy to accept his follow request.
At the grand jury indictment, Neal reads from some of the documents Laurie received. “The parents of Ms. Rouse remained inconsolable, even as a verdict of life without parole was delivered. Throughout the proceedings, the defendant refused to display any remorse whatsoever. ‘If looks could kill,’ one of the jurors later commented.” No wonder Andy kept his father a secret.
Neal then asks Andy if he ever saw any indication or any resemblance of his father in Jacob’s behavior. Andy brushes it off. He claims he just knows Jacob isn’t a killer. He knows his son. Simple as that. Laurie, on the other hand? She has doubts and they are becoming more and more apparent.
Another visit with Dr. Vogel sets both parents on edge when the doctor requests a DNA sample from Andy’s father. It’s just a formality but an important one to complete her study on Jacob. The catch? Billy Barber will only take the test if Andy visits him in prison and asks. Andy really doesn’t want to do that. Laurie tells him he has to. This is when we finally get our first look at Andy’s father, the man who haunts his dreams, Bloody Billy Barber (J.K. Simmons).
Check out Defending Jacob on Apple TV+. New episodes every Friday!
A bona fide earthling who finds some comfort in books, movies and coffee. Lots of coffee. Has several regrettable tattoos and her knowledge of horror movies is probably better than yours but she won't hold it against you; it's proof that she has way too much free time. Currently in limbo but manages to occasionally crawl out of it long enough to write for Geek Girl Authority.