Defending Jacob – Apple+ Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Review

The Knife

Apple+’s latest addition Defending Jacob starts its season with a decent but slow first episode. While the plot is intriguing, it doesn’t feel very original and adopts many of the same sort of tropes inherent with this genre without much in the way of originality or uniqueness.

Episode 1 of Defending Jacob starts with a man walking in court as we hear a lawyer talking to the jury who will decide if an indictment can be granted. If it is, it means that the case will be taken to the supreme court. We then see a man taking his place on the stand, Andrew Stephen Barber, who’s the former district attorney. The lawyer starts reading a newspaper article describing the Barber family as perfect and asks if it’s an accurate description of them on the day that Ben Rifkin was murdered.

We then cut to 10 months earlier as Andrew wakes his son, Jacob, up. His wife, Laurie, comes back from a run and they spend a normal family morning together. As they all leave to go about their days, Andrew arrives in court where he gets busy dealing with his different tasks.

In school, an announcement from the head tells everyone that the school is in lockdown as we see Jacob and the rest of the students kneeling down in a corner of the class. We then cut to the scene of the crime, which is swarming with police. Lieutenant Duffy meets Andrew and tells him that a 14 year old boy, Benjamin Rifkin has been found stabbed. This shocks Andrew as he is in the same year as his son.

As they reach the body, Andrew gets a call from Jacob wanting to know what is happening but his father tells him he can’t talk about it. Jacob looks like he wants to say something but stops himself. The news then reaches his mum, who happens to work in a school for neglected and abused children.

In the evening, Andrew and Laurie decide to go and speak to their son about the tragedy. However, Jake doesn’t seem too affected by the murder as he tells them he didn’t really know Ben that much and explains that the boy was quite full of himself at school.

The next day, Andrew heads into work where his boss, Lynn, tells him she is thinking about bringing Neil on the case as she thinks he is not making any progress. Andrew insists that he should be kept on it and that he has interviews planned at the school. After leaving his office, Andrew and Duffy arrive in the school and as they start questioning the kids, they soon realise that no one knows anything apart from Sarah, who seems like she wants to reveal something but decides to remain tight lipped. As they are about to leave, Duffy receives information of a potential suspect in Leonard Patz.

Later in the day, Andrew arrives in the Rifkin house for the wake. After seeing his wife, he tells her he is not going to stay because everyone is asking about the case. As he heads upstairs to pick up his son, Andrew speaks with Ben’s father who is completely heart broken. On his way home, Andrew and Jake discuss his school work. Jake mentions that, like in his book, people are really fake just like some kids were at the wake.

With no other leads, Andrew calls Duffy and tells her to bring Leonard in. He then receives an attachment leading him to Ben’s Facebook pages full of messages and one from his son : “Ben is dead, Why are you writing him messages? Acting like his best friend.” His friend Derek then replies: “Everyone knows you did it as you have a knife”. This prompts him to look through his son’s things where he ends up finding a knife, which is where the episode ends..

Defending Jacob’s main point of interest is that the murderer could be a 14 year old child who may have done it because he was being bullied. While this plot line isn’t wholly original, it’s still intriguing enough to keep you sticking around to find out what happens next and just who is responsible.

Chris Evans gives a decent and believable performance as a fair district attorney and devoted father, while Jaeden Martell’s portrayal is the highlight of the episode, adding just the right amount of creepiness to his character. It will be quite interesting to see what will happen between father and son in the upcoming installments but for now Defending Jacob starts its runtime with a slow but interesting episode. Let’s just hope it picks up the pace a little!

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