Defending Jacob (2020) s01e04 – Damage Control

The episode opens unironically with Michelle Dockery going to the grocery store before it opens at 6 a.m. and waiting to go in and be alone while shopping while Chris Evans does the same thing… only with the swimming pool.

Makes me wonder if the Dockery character is such a non-entity in the William Landay novel, in which case it does sound a little like an easy reader version of Presumed Innocent.


Dockery having a crap part is going to get indirectly spotlighted from the glare off Cherry Jones, playing tween murder suspect Jaeden Martell’s lawyer. And apparently, no, Evans didn’t see any conflict of interest in Jones having already represented town sexual predator guy Daniel Henshall.

It’s time for Jones to see how well Martell might do on the stand and he’s not going to do well. Martell’s petulant teen thing doesn’t come off well and Jones walks all over he, Evans, and Dockery in the scene. It’s okay, because Jones is the most life the show’s exhibited. But then it gets weird because Jones makes Evans better. He’s got rapport with her. He’s got no rapport with Dockery. Reminder: Mark Bomback’s script is really trite, so a lot of the problem is the script. And possibly the source novel.

Then it turns out to be kind of Michelle Dockery’s episode. Like she gets the subplot about stalking her former work gala, sending away from information about Evans’s murderer dad under a pseudonym (which is an absolutely pointless subplot and does lend credence to the idea Bomback just cut Dockery’s character out for the TV show because she doesn’t even get real C plots but less Bs), and then getting ambushed in a pseudo-Denny’s, which Dockery makes a big deal to say she likes actually, by reporter Audrey Wasilewski.

Now, Dockery might have been prepared to be on the lookout for Wasilewski, if only Evans had warned her, like Jones asked him.

Because “Defending Jacob” is about how Evans is a terrible partner and how it’s okay because it’s a white guy.

“Defending Jacob” would feel regressive in 1983.

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