TV Review: Second Season of “Making a Murderer” Has a New Star
The first season of Making a Murderer dropped in December 2015, when most of us were home for the holidays and had the time to binge the whole season and regurgitate the shocking details over the dinner table.
The second season of Making a Murderer, also written and directed by Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi, was filmed from the summer of 2016 through the summer of 2018. And as we now know, not much can happen in the legal system during that time. Where the first season had the advantage of years and years of information to fill the episodes, this season lacked that, and had to resort to eye-glazing fillers. For example, I’m sure we didn’t need to see absolutely everyone arriving to the various court proceedings, or watch the Avery family puttering around the auto shop.
The first season covered the fact that Steven Avery had been incarcerated for 18 years for sexual assault and attempted murder, despite the lack of evidence against him. He was released in 2003 based on DNA evidence and sent back home to Wisconsin. He immediately filed a $36 million dollar lawsuit against Manitowac County, WI, the former District Attorney, and the former sheriff.
Two years later, Teresa Halbach was murdered. Steven Avery is an immediate person of interest, and shockingly, his young nephew Brendan Dassey confesses to helping Avery rape and murder the young photographer. Halbach’s car is found in the Avery Salvage Yard riddled with Avery’s DNA. Avery and Dassey are found guilty of murder and sent to prison.
Despite the mountains of evidence against him, Avery insists he is innocent. Dassey, a 16-year-old with a low IQ, claims he made a false confession to the police.
In fact, it’s Dassey’s case that proves to be the most influential in our legal system. Over the course of the season, we’re on an emotional roller coaster as his case is overturned and appealed numerous times due to conflicting opinions about his interrogation. Dassey’s mother Barbara Tadych is pushing for Wisconsin to pass a Juvenile Interrogation Protection Law, which argues that all minors must have an attorney present during an interrogation.
To this day, Avery and Dassey have a strong fan base. Fans make quilts and scrapbooks for the families. Avery says, “It feels like the whole world is behind me.” Avery also gets a lot of female attention. He met his girlfriend Lynn after she wrote to him in the midst of a painful divorce. Wearing stilettos and a cut-out blouse, she visits him in prison with whistles from the prison yard following her in. But it’s during her appearance on Dr. Phil that her relationship with Avery falls apart.
Like the first season, Making a Murderer heavily favors the Avery/Dassey families. We are treated to downright intimate peeks into their daily lives and struggles. Avery and Dassey’s lawyers are shown to be strong, eloquent females, fighting hard for their clients. Ken Kratz, however, is shown to be nothing more than a soft-spoken, ethically-questionable prosecutor that loves the limelight.
While in prison, Avery catches an episode of Dateline, which highlights Kathleen Zellner’s career fighting wrongful convictions. She has won 17 exonerations, more than any other private U.S. lawyer. Steven and his friend Sandy write to her for four years, asking for her help.
What is blatantly obvious is that Kathleen Zellner should have her own spin-off show. Utilizing her Southern charm, she calmly disassembles all of the evidence stacked against Avery throughout the season. Armed with her law clerks – slash – off-duty models, she attempts to re-create the evidence from the trial, including buying a car identical to Halbach’s Rav4.
Zellner is undeniably smart and ruthless, and she knows how to use the tools provided to her. She doles out teasers on Twitter and spends a lot of time using dramatic testing, such as the brain fingerprinting test that looks cool but doesn’t really go anywhere. Some of her claims, no matter how outlandish (the cops cleaned Avery’s blood out of his sink and planted it in Teresa’s car?) seem plausible because she’s so persuasive.
Zellner is also tasked with answering the question: If Avery and Dassey didn’t do it, who did? She spends the season trying to find a “Denny,” or a new suspect who could have committed the crime. Bobby Dassey (Brendan’s brother and Steven Avery’s nephew) has a computer brimming with super creepy deviant porn, and Teresa’s ex-boyfriend Ryan Hillegas is suspiciously silent. But without any evidence, or even a body, Zellner is SOL.
We’ll have to wait awhile for a third season, but in the meantime, I’ll be looking for Zellner’s show to drop.