Defending Jacob (Apple TV 2020)

defending-jacob-poster-01-scaled5 Kernels

Well, it was a boring Sunday/Monday scenario, and I binge-watched another series, Defending Jacob, which is an Apple TV production.  Let me just say that I’m impressed by the quality of these series.

This one is based on a book written by William Landlay, but takes the liberty of changing the ending. I’m definitely not going to tell you the change, and if you just can’t wait, you’ll have to Google it yourself.  However, I suggest if you do, wait until you’ve watched the entire series. Each episode runs an hour long.

Based on the story of a family living in a small town in Massachusetts, it revolves around the murder of a fourteen-year-old boy. Meet the family in the center of this tale, which is the son, Jacob, played by Jaeden Martell, his father the Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber, played by Chris Evans, and the mother, Laurie, played by Michelle Dockery (who ditches her English accent for an American part). They are the perfect family until suddenly evidence points to Jacob being the murderer of a classmate by the name of Ben.

If you think by the title that this is an eight-part courtroom drama, you can put away that assumption. Although you will be part of the courtroom for two different proceedings, the story is mainly focused on the family dynamics of two parents whose son is accused of murder. The trial itself is only two episodes, but the episodes are not entirely in the courtroom.

So the crux of the story revolves around the unconditional love question. Do you believe Jacob when he says he didn’t do it or do you stand by him in the belief you know your son would never do anything like murder a human being? This is the conundrum that Andy and Laurie find themselves in as they vacillate back and forth from did he or didn’t he.  Being the great drama that it is, it does a fine job of throwing your own assumptions back and forth and never gives you a clear-cut answer to that pointed question.

Other characters are (1) the grieving parents of the dead boy, (2) Cherry Jones who plays the defense attorney, (3) Pablo Schreiber who plays the prosecuting attorney (who by the way is annoying as hell); and Betty Gabriel, a police detective. The only dynamic that I didn’t quite understand was this hatred by Neal, the prosecuting attorney against his coworker Andy, who taught him the ropes. Not sure if that was a plot hole why he hated Andy so much or if I missed it during a bathroom break.

I have to say that it’s a five-star show, keeping audiences engaged. Acting is top-notch and frankly makes you wonder how you, as a parent, could survive such an ordeal yourself. As far as the fourteen-year-old son, who is the focus of the story, the young Jaeden Martell does an excellent job of jerking your chain by not quite giving you a hint either way.

It makes me admit that this show is as good as it gets with drama and mystery, nearly giving my beloved Brits a run for their money. It’s high octane acting by all, well played, throughout, and filled with a few twists and turns. You’ll just have to make your own decision in the end – did he or didn’t he do it?

Also, after reading the ending of the book versus the movie, I probably would have gone for the book ending instead. Nevertheless, you know those writers, directors, and producers in Hollywood have to give things their own twist.

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