The episode opens with Chris Evans driving to see his father in prison to get a DNA swab so they can test for the murder gene intercut with the middle school graduation Jaeden Martell is missing. The school choir is singing Circle Game by Joni Mitchell, which is a great song but a very odd choice. “Defending Jacob” tries to have a personality and somehow just ends up more bland for it.
J.K. Simmons, in the only special guest star casting so far, plays the dad. It’s Steve Rogers versus J. Jonah Jameson. Or something.
Simmons can at least hold the accent.
He doesn’t want to give Cap—sorry, Evans—a sample because Evans was a crappy son to him. Just because your dad rapes and kills a teenage girl doesn’t mean he’s not your dad. I wonder if it was a more complex equation in the source novel or was it really just, White guy blanks in face of the “is murderer dad different from murderer son” question. Or is Mark Bomback’s script so vapid he doesn’t get it.
So Evans doesn’t want to be friends and Simmons tells him no DNA sample. Instead, Evans is left confronting fourteen year old witnesses without notifying their parents, including sabotaging one car so he can confront one of Martell’s friends. Turns out Martell is into murder porn or something.
At least this time when Evans doesn’t let anyone know about that information, they flash forward to the grand jury for Pablo Schreiber to point out it was a really bad move on Evans’s part. Evans even acknowledges it for a second.
But then Evans also confronts Martell’s now only friend, Jordan Alexa Davis, who was a history with the victim Martell doesn’t know about. And when Martell finds out, he’s a complete dick to Davis, which means even if Martell is innocent, he’s a shitty proto-incel.
Proto because “Defending Jacob”’s sense of technology—as it streams from the largest tech company in the world’s service—is from the early aughts at best. Bomback’s bad at it, source author William Landay’s bad at it.
Michelle Dockery’s big moment this episode is running into victim’s mom Megan Byrne in the grocery store and Byrne spitting on her for buying marshmallows.
It’s amazing how much “Defending Jacob” is Dockery’s show but they force it be Evans’s. Given Evans is a producer and Dockery isn’t… it’s like she’s BBCing for hire in her own show. It kind of sucks.