Love & Death Season 1 Review – A victim who acted in self-defence or a murderer who’s a brilliant actress?

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 “Huntress” – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 2 “Encounters” – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 3 “Stepping Stone” – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 “Do No Evil” – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 “The Arrest” – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 “The Big Top” – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 7 “Ssssshh” – | Review Score – 4/5

No one really expects a young church-goer and mother of two to turn into an axe murderer overnight but oftentimes, crimes such as this are unprecedented. The shocking case from the 70’s and 80s follows the story of Betty Gore, a young woman who was murdered by her husband – Allan Gore’s ex-mistress – Candace “Candy” Montgomery.

After having numerous adaptations based on the true-crime case, HBO Max announced the original adaptation titled Love & Death, which follows the real-life story of Candy Montgomery, the woman who murdered her friend by striking her 40 times with an axe. There has been much debate about Love & Death’s release following the recent Hulu Original Candy, a five-episode mini-series based on the same case.

Set in Wylie, Texas, Love & Death narrates the story of the crime in a linear fashion. We are able to see the affair between Candy and Allan unfold as well as Betty’s erratic character, which is something we are made aware of in the initial episodes of the show. Love & Death is a simple, easy to understand and picturesque take on the brutal murder.

While many attempts have been made to compare the show to the Jessica Biel starrer Candy, there is little to no doubt that Elizabeth Olsen’s performance as Candy Montgomery is gripping and on point. There have been a large number of questions directed to the makers of Love & Death with audiences wondering why they decided to retell a story that has already told enough times over the past few decades.

With all things considered, the 7-episode series seems to be an honest attempt at narrating the order of events before the actual murder in order to put things into perspective for viewers. Love & Death is a slow-burn in comparison to other adaptations and presents a unique perspective on the state of Candy’s mental health and her need to have a perfect public image.

After detailing the nature of Candy’s affair with Allan, the show does a good job of highlighting how courts of law work. Whatever happened to Candy at the end of the show is all thanks to her lawyer – Don Crowder and the show does a good job to emphasise the extent to which lawyers go in order to protect their clients despite knowing the difference between right to wrong.

The show gives viewers a non-judgemental perspective on the murder by acknowledging that Allan and Candy were in an affair because of their unhappy marriages. Love & Death does a good job to show that the murder wasn’t planned but emphasises that the 40 strikes from the axe were unnecessary as Betty had passed away before Candy had stopped striking her.

The performances from Elisabeth Oldsen and Lily Rabe playing Candy and Betty were commendable while Jesse Plemons, Tom Pelphrey and Patrick Fugit do a great job in their roles of Allan – the husband who had immediately disassociated himself from the murder, the lawyer who needed to win the case because of his personal rife with the judge on the case and the husband of the accused who had no clue what his wife was capable of.

Love & Death is a bingeable series based on a real-life incident. After watching both shows based on the same case, Love & Death is arguably more enjoyable when compared to Candy. The show has a linear narration with a well-planned beginning, middle and end while leaving the traumatic murder for the season finale to show its impact.

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  • Verdict - 8/10

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