The Staircase – Season 1 Episode 7 “Seek and Ye Shall” Recap & Review

Seek and Ye Shall

In the last episode, we saw how the owl theory might have fit the bill of the crime perfectly. Even in the real world, it got a lot of coverage and validation from experts.

Episode 7 of The Staircase sees a new theory afoot. We see the brutal killing of Dennis Rowe, by a friend and former lover, Lacour. Both men are privy to Michael – implying that he slept with them. He dies of blunt force trauma – but without the fractures. Kathleen Peterson’s death – as on record –  is not an anomaly anymore. Sophie begins investigating this different theory of an intruder, like Lacour, coming in and killing Kathleen.

A non-voluntary organization, the Innocence Project, starts looking into the dubious relationship between the DA and the SBI (State Bureau of Investigation). It finds that the former would give performance reviews for the latter’s analysts to get favorable results and reports to be used as evidence. Three innocent men were executed because of this, as the organization’s worker reveals to Freda, who now works at a laundry. Martha, desperate for answers, reveals to Margaret that she is going to Germany to her old house. She is against it but Martha goes anyway.

She discovers the truth about Mike and Patty wanted to give her away because of her behavior. A flashback also shows Kathleen five days before her death, buying the deer statutes and learning from Mike about his book deal. Mike is also seen flirting with the waiters at Nortel’s Christmas party but importantly, Kathleen is shown seeing the physical contact. It is also suggested that she knows about Mike’s bisexuality but the creators do not reveal much. They let it hang in balance, just like in real life.

Evelyn Avins, from IP, goes public with her findings that the SBI did indeed withhold evidence from Courts to get favorable results for the DA. The symbiotic relationship between them is proved and an innocent man, Greg Taylor, is released for a wrongful conviction for her wife’s death. Although it is not totally relevant, we also get a peek into the chaos at several IT companies following the 2001 dot-com bubble crash of the stock market. Nortel’s stock is not an exception and loses almost half its value in a day. Kathleen, as a result of holding significant stock options, loses everything she has.

The Petersons are now officially in debt and it rouses a huge fight between Michael and Kathleen where she says everything the DA said about him at the trial and what every neutral, who reasonably believes Mike to be the murderer, thinks. The episode ends a day before the retrial hearing in 2011, which brings the family together one more time.

The Episode Review

In clear terms, probably for the first time, the narcissistic attitude of the criminal justice system is exposed. “They will never admit they were wrong”. Remember how the documentary ended, with that song? Given how the trial has shaped over the course of many subsequent trials and newly found evidence, it makes you wonder if the system truly cares to find the truth. Or is it just concerned with maintaining a semblance of it in a period of time?

The penultimate episode of ‘The Staircase’ probes the dark parts of the Prosecution and courts of law as institutions of flawed morals. The drama is the most intense, digestible form, like those soap operas. But done with such grace and magnificence, you never realize it isn’t one of those cheap two-day productions playing on formulaic filmmaking.

It is truly Toni Collette’s moment to shine and she grabs it with both hands. Her spine-tingling work in the last few minutes is more than worth what many actors do in an entire series. Although I am guessing a lot of that was fictional, Collette makes the anger her own, somewhat like ‘Hereditary’, and seizes the moment. Firth is completely outshone by her and makes you wonder who the center of attraction would be if she’d gotten the same time.

The series is about to come to an end and we still can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. A sense of frustration and silent indignation now fills the quiet, awkward air in ‘The Staircase’.

It seems like we all – including the characters – are waiting for it to get over, with the exception of Michael. The hope is that something like this does not happen again. The advancements in forensic science, ought to spruce up the legal processes as well. But time and again when we see another Netflix original with the words “case” or “trial” in the title, know that it hasn’t. Nothing has changed, nor it will.

This is the curse that we must live with and face every day and try to convince ourselves that it is not the truth.

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