The Staircase – Season 1 Episode 3 “The Great Dissembler” Recap & Review

The Great Dissembler

It is strategy time for both sides. The preparation for trial starts off The Staircase episode 3, which requires gathering evidence and presenting witnesses for the jury. The police start by searching for the missing blow poke from the Peterson household. Martha is revealed to be a homosexual but is not ready to come out, yet. Caitlin has discussions with Fred and a lawyer they have hired. It pertains to her asking for Kathleen’s backpay from Nortel, which is currently being used for Peterson’s bail and legal fees.

A flashback shows Kathleen dealing with a bat stuck in the attic (the same one that surprised and made her fall from the ladder in the previous episode). The Prosecution is struggling to establish infidelity on Peterson’s part to play to motive to kill Kathleen. One of their team members finds a lead – Dennis Rowe (from the last episode’s fundraiser). Michael had become uncomfortable when Rowe was introduced to the group he was chatting with at the party and left the scene. Now Rowe, claims he had intercourse with Michael multiple times.

This starts a bit of a rift between the brothers, Michael, and Bill. The latter reveals that he is taking two weeks off to see his family back home. Meanwhile, at SBI, the team is doing everything in its power to prove that Kathleen was hit by something and bludgeoned to death. We see multiple molds of her head being used to test out the thesis. Rowe lists out the men he has slept with to date. To DA Hardin’s surprise, he finds a lot of donors to his race in it. This makes him reluctant to put Rowe on the stand and out his acquaintances.

Peterson’s unfaithfulness is revealed in the flashbacks where his relationship with Kathleen is a hit and miss. He has oral sex with Tyrone in an Adult Entertainment shop. In the present, Tyrone warns Dennis against associating him with the trial. The documentary is in progress. Off-camera, we see the two documentarians arguing between themselves about whether Michael is innocent. They have contrasting views. Martha and Margaret agree to do an interview to show Mike in a positive light. Caitlin and Fred are successful in diverting the Norte payments to them as next of kin. The Peterson side worries about affording the trial.

The interview airs and Margaret Blair (the lady on the phone from Christmas in episode 2), turns out to be Liz’s (the biological mother of Martha and Margaret) sister. In less than sensational fashion than the original documentary, it is revealed that Liz was found dead in mysterious circumstances just like Kathleen at the bottom of a staircase. Rudolf and co are even tenser now given the trial are four weeks away.

The DA now has this information; the sisters now begin thinking about the weird coincidence. Duane from SBI (the guy from the grocery store in the last episode) calls DA Hardin and lets him know that he is ready to testify against Mime in the trial. He has finally figured out how Mike killed Kathleen.  The Prosecution decides to request to exhume Liz’s body with the sisters’ consent. The trial finally starts on 1 July 2003.

The Episode Review

The change in tone and structure in the last episode has carried on well here. Things are looking really positive for the series as a whole. Now that all the legwork is complete, we can finally see how the creators filmed and reproduced the trial in the original case. It has to be mentioned that the trial in the Netflix documentary was actually very engaging. It wasn’t dull as these events usually are.

Not only did it unpack the ghastly details of the events, but it also carried a very unassuming and innate sense of theatrics. The case itself unfurled like a fictional story in a crime/murder novella. Episode two confirms the trend that the original chain of events will not be retold chronologically or honestly. Creative liberties will be taken to make the things for a viewer seeing it for the first time more interesting. So the experience might not be the same as you had previously.

This is also the first time that we have seen Michael’s changing colors. The true extent of his actual character is just started being tested. I am not sure the result would be too glamorous but there’s a reason why this show is being made too late after the trial has happened. Now, it seems that he might just have been capable of doing it. Did he? We will see.

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