Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story – Season 1 Episode 8 Recap & Review


While analyzing what turns someone into a serial killer and why they become the person they are, we always take into account how their parents are and how they are raised. Like genetic factors, environmental factors unquestionably play a significant role in the development of an individual’s personality.

This was made clear when Jeff’s parents were first introduced, and established that his mother had been taking many pills on a daily basis while she was pregnant with Jeff. Moreover, we saw how his father treated him by ignoring his emotional needs, avoiding having difficult conversations with him, and instead moving him around.

Naturally, we’re curious about what happens to his father after the police have taken Jeff into custody and how he handles the situation thereafter. This episode particularly focuses on that.

In a previous episode, we catch a glimpse of the time Jeff’s father, Lionel, learns about Jeff’s murders and is left to process everything that has been told to him. From this point on, the episode begins. Lionel is seen sobbing while attempting to make sense of the information he has just received. Then, Lionel requests permission from the authorities to see Jeff.

Despite everything he knows, Lionel embraces his son when he first meets Jeff. Lionel accepts Jeff’s apology and tells him that it’s all right. Jeff asks about his grandmother after being asked to sit down by his father. Jeff’s father explains to Jeff that he didn’t realize how ill he was and that he needs professional help. He goes on to say that he believes Jeff can be treated.

Jeff’s father wants to assist him despite everything he’s done, including the numerous murders, cannibalism, and other crimes. This is a perfect example of what unconditional love looks like, and it’s obvious that his love for Jeff knows no bounds.

Jeff’s father questions his son as to why he feels he became the way that he is. Jeff admits that he is unsure and that he has given the matter a lot of thought. After that, Jeff implies that it’s probably because of the roadkill his father taught him to dissect. Jeff’s dad panics and enters a period of denial.

Reporters can be seen following Jeff’s mother as she enters a building while seeming to be all over the place. When Jeff’s mother informs someone that he is not HIV positive, the boy is overjoyed and breaks down in tears. He and Joyce both cry, but for different reasons.

Way past midnight, we find Jeff’s father, Lionel, distressed in his living room. His wife informs him that it isn’t healthy for him to have gone five nights in a row without sleeping. His wife advises them to go to the doctor and get some sleeping pills, so he can fall asleep.

In a trance, Lionel rants that the pills his ex-wife was taking while carrying Jeff are to blame for everything that has happened. He rants about everything his ex-wife should have done differently to raise Jeff and how she neglected him, which is what made him the way he is today. His wife makes him realize that he can’t solely hold his ex-wife accountable; he must also take responsibility because he wasn’t there for Jeff either.

Lionel breaks down and confesses that he should have checked on Jeff and that it is his fault. His wife comforts him by saying that he was unaware. Lionel tells his wife that Jeff has his genes and that Lionel’s DNA is what makes him who he is. Lionel admits to having fantasies resembling those that Jeff experienced. Lionel goes into great detail with his wife about his attempts to make explosives, his attempts to hypnotize a girl, and his nightmares about how to dispose of their bodies. His wife makes an effort to comfort him and lift his spirits.

Lionel is seen dodging the media and law enforcement to reach his mother’s home. We learn that Lionel’s mother suffers from dementia and is unaware what’s going on.

Even though the Reverend’s argument causes conflict among the populace, it helps the case as well. He pushes the authorities to suspend the two officers who let two victims back into Jeff’s apartment and they were eventually killed by him; these are the same two officers who ignored Glenda’s repeated complaints about Jeff simply because she is African American.

The two officers argue that since they report to the chief, he should support them. As a compromise, the chief grants them a paid leave of absence while an investigation is conducted. Informing their chief that he cannot fire them and that their union representatives will defend them, the officers then depart.

On television, we see a man claiming to have escaped Jeff Dahmer and to have nearly fallen victim to him. On television, a different man pretends to be Jeff’s childhood friend and claims to have had a sexual relationship with Jeff. He continues by stating that they had sex at Jeff’s home. He tells them that Jeff confided in him that his father had molested him sexually, while Jeff’s stepmother was constantly yelling at him. We observe how people begin inventing tales to exploit the delicate situations here.

Jeff’s lawyer and father pay Jeff a visit in jail. Jeff’s father works with the attorney to try to come up with a way to keep Jeff out of jail. Jeff wants to know if his state has the death penalty, but his father and attorney inform him that it does not. Jeff finds it disappointing that he won’t be put to death. Jeff’s father tells him that they must find a way to prevent Jeff from going to prison. His father goes on to say that the judge must be persuaded that Jeff is insane, even though he knows that he’s not. Jeff’s father persuades Jeff to lie in court, and he’s pushed to comply with his father’s wishes.

We’ve seen Jeff’s father neglect him, and not entertain him when he wanted to talk to him about some fantasies he’d been having, but instead of just talking to him, we see him moving Jeff around. Jeff’s father wasn’t there for Jeff when he needed him. Now that Jeff’s father has realized his mistake, he uses defense mechanisms and overcompensating by going out of his way, attempting to keep Jeff out of jail.

Regarding all 15 first-degree murders to which Jeff had pled guilty, the jury concludes that he is not legally insane and is of sound mind. The judge tells the families of the victims that Jeff will be imprisoned.

As soon as the court is adjourned, Jeff’s father confronts Jeff’s mother and demands that she take some responsibility for what has happened. She’s frightened, defending herself, and attributing all of the blame on Lionel. Lionel’s wife can be seen attempting to soothe their concerns by assuring them that no one is at fault.

Joyce’s guilt over the role she played in Jeff becoming the way he is is evident as she struggles with it. She overcompensates for her errors by pleading with the families of the victims to pardon Jeff and asks them to testify in court the following day on Jeff’s behalf so he can be placed in a mental institution rather than jail, which they obviously refuse to do.

The victims’ families testify against Jeff in court and speak briefly. Jeff speaks shortly afterwards where he informs the judge and the audience that he wanted to be executed and had no intention of pleading innocent. He takes responsibility for his actions and clarifies that he acted instinctively rather than as part of a hate crime. Jeff is punished and asked to serve 15 consecutive life terms in prison.

Just as Jeff is about to be sent to prison, his father hugs him and takes full responsibility for all of his mistakes. He acknowledges that he is responsible for teaching him how to dissect animals, as well as for ignoring and dismissing Jeff when he tried to approach his father. He tells Jeff how he had similar fantasies and feelings and how he gave that to Jeff. He further apologizes for not being there for him even though he was aware that Jeff needed help.

In addition to vowing never to leave Jeff alone once again, Lionel tells Jeff that he will never forgive himself. He vows to make amends for his actions by calling and visiting Jeff once a week. Jeff is then taken to jail.

Joyce writes a suicide note in which she takes responsibility for her role in this situation. In the suicide note, she apologizes to Jeff for being a terrible mother before making an attempt to kill herself by suffocating herself. However, she’s rescued at the last second.

When Lionel learns that Joyce attempted suicide, he expresses his sorrow and inquires about Joyce’s well-being. Towards the end of the episode, we see the two police officers who took the Konerak boy back to Jeff reinstated in the force.

The Episode Review

We are taken on a psychological and emotional rollercoaster in this episode. We can’t help but feel frustrated and angry towards Lionel at the beginning when he refuses to take responsibility for his actions and denies the role he played. He rationalizes his actions too, which is infuriating.

Everything in the episode is seen through the eyes of the serial killer’s parents. We are inclined to feel sympathy for them, especially when noticing how Jeff and Lionel are similar in some ways – they share the same genes, fantasies, and emotions – but they develop into very different individuals. This is because, despite sharing the same genes, they were raised in very different environments.

Lionel was raised in a loving family while Jeff was raised in a chaotic one, and this has a significant impact on the type of individuals they become as adults.

In this episode, the grief is beautifully deconstructed. The stages of mental anguish that one experiences are skilfully depicted. The entire spectrum of emotions—from denial to rationalization to acceptance—is displayed with precision. You can’t help but stand in awe at the sheer genius of everything, as though a psychologist assisted them in creating this episode. The connections between even the most minute details and their underlying meanings are simply outstanding.

Lionel, Jeff’s father, doesn’t just act; he genuinely owns the part. He successfully conveys all the required emotions and captures every nuance in the process. With his outstanding performance, Jeff’s father without a doubt steals the show.

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You can read our full season review for Dahmer Season 1 here!

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