When their son Jacob is accused of the murder of another teenager in his class, Andy and Laurie Barber must attempt to protect him as well as themselves when the whole town turns on them and they both lose their jobs.
Number of Episodes: 8
***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS***
It is not very often that I write a review that will contain spoilers but I felt as though for Defending Jacob that this was essential. It is a rather complex journey and drama. Some moments I just need to talk about and put into the review so if you have not yet seen it please stop reading now!
Andy Barber was working as a respected assistant district attorney and was assigned onto the case of murdered Ben Rifkin, who just happened to be a classmate of his son Jacob’s. He was found stabbed to death in a park near their middle school but unable to come up with a motive for the murder it made finding any suspects very tricky. When looking at a message board with memories of Ben, Andy is very disturbed to see one with Derek accusing Jacob of the murder.
Along with that accusation a knife is discovered in Jacob’s room and this is something Andy shares with Laurie and they question their son about it. He claims to have never used the knife and that the comments mean nothing. I felt as though this was the first thing to really think about when it comes to teenagers and the internet, they don’t fully understand that comments you make online can actually be used against you in real life. They seem to view it as a truly different world. which is certainly not the case. More online comments would come into it for Jacob later as well.
Andy is quickly removed from the case when Jacob becomes the number one suspect, the lone finger print found on Ben belonged to Jacob. Although he would tell a story that made it clear he was just scared when he found the body that morning on his way to school. To throw in more trauma for Andy we are shown flashbacks to his own childhood and the memories of his father. Something he has always kept from everyone including Laurie, was that his father is in prison for rape and murder. This was something that would certainly go on to complicate the case. As well as attempting to get tests for the supposed murder gene.
I must have got about five episodes in so more than half way through the series when I realised that neither parent had actually asked Jacob if he did it. Andy was the one who was dead against his son ever being capable of that. While Laurie having a flashback to when he was younger and going to smash a bowling ball into another child’s head was certainly an interesting perspective considering Jacob does not really show much emotion or empathy. Even when discussing Ben’s death he says no one really liked him and did not really seem phased by the death.
While it takes a lot of build up to get to the final two episodes which seem to throw in the most twists and turns I felt as though the high level of performances were a true joy to watch. This was something that I really enjoyed about the series. Plus it didn’t really push you as a viewer to guilty or innocent, you felt like one of the members of the jury being given all of the information and facts for you to really make up your mind.
I felt personally that I ended up more towards that Jacob did give it and that he had followed in his grandfather’s footsteps in the worst possible manner. Without ever knowing anything about him up until that point, especially when the family head on holiday to Mexico and the girl goes missing. I was convinced that he had killed her, I still want to know what happened to his white shirt? I kinda felt the ending coming with Laurie as she seemed to be pushed so far that she thought her son was a killer and couldn’t cope with that. Hence the crash! I liked the way that Andy was talking about this in his interviews and in all honesty I had thought from early on that she was dead. The open end will not satisfy a lot of people but it really does make you wonder who the killer was. Personally I felt as though it was Jacob and that he was just a monster. Happy for anyone to argue anything different with that as well.
The performances are truly outstanding with Chris Evans being able to show off a truly different level to his acting ability in this one, which is very welcomed after the years of everyone just thinking about him being Captain America. I felt as though his emotional journey was engaging and real enough to believe. He had good chemistry with Michelle Dockery which was great to see, again she was impressive with the range of emotions shown.
Jaeden Martell as Jacob was another fantastic performance from the young actor. But his I guess is by the lack of emotion he shows in different scenes. He does work very nicely with both Evans and Dockery. I had no idea J.K. Simmons was in this before watching it so that was certainly a nice surprise! Cherry Jones was another standout performance as lawyer Joanna Klein, very impressed with her scene stealing ability.
Very strong acting performances within an intense drama was certainly something that I found impressive. One of the first mini-series to be shown by Apple TV+ along with The Morning Show and I have enjoyed them both. Engaging and one of those where you just want to see what happens next, so basically binge worthy watchable!