About twenty minutes into this episode it felt really familiar then I realized I was just watching scenes from a bad Presumed Innocent remake. What with Chris Evans and his investigators and his coworkers and whatnot—it just feels like a retread of that film (and novel). I’ll bet source novel author William Landay read the Scott Turow novel.
“Defending Jacob” teleplay writer Mark Bomback? I feel like he maybe saw the movie.
The episode opens still in the flashback. Chris Evans has just discovered son Jaeden Martell’s classmates think he killed their other classmate and are posting about it online. He’s also found a knife in Martell’s bedroom.
So Evans lays awake all night and in the morning tells Michelle Dockery, who asks if he should let his boss know. You know, the district attorney (Sakina Jaffrey), who he promised he’d stay impartial with. He says, no. And then pretty soon destroys evidence, at which point I started to wonder if they realized Evans is the bad guy and basically “Defending Jacob” is basically a heroic version of Brock Turner’s parents.
Complete with Evans racing in his car from being suspended—not even for the evidence destruction but because there’s physical evidence Evans didn’t know about because he was doing such a bad job on the case because he’s apparently a bad prosecuting attorney (Turow deep cut)-racing home to get there before a search warrant can be executed.
The funny thing about Bomback’s abject lack of understanding about… well, anything really, is how the accusations of Martell didn’t go viral after being discovered online and sitting there for eighteen hours. Instead, the Internet just took a break for everyone to sleep and so on. It’s something.
Then there’s unregistered pedophile Daniel Henshall, who Evans brings in to question and the cops can’t break him before lawyer Cherry Jones shows up so they just let him go. Turns out he’s a good suspect because he’s got photos of the victim on his iPhone (does Apple know the pedophile’s rocking an Xs Max?) but they just let him go. Without even getting him to register.
So Bomback’s definitely bad at the plotting, but was Landay bad at it too? Because outside upper middle white people—if your D.A. is speeding through the streets in a badass Audi, maybe audit him—who don’t know their kids, I’m missing who this story would be compelling for? Like, was the novel supposed to be better than a John Grisham?