When It first popped up on Netflix I had no intention of watching this documentary so soon, if at all. I placed it in my list carelessly amongst a huge back catalogue of missed TV shows and films, where I assumed it would remain unwatched until at least 2022. Having every intention of warming myself up for the new series of Daredevil due in march with another Marvel TV show, Jessica Jones, I found myself rejecting the beautiful cosmopolitan heroin for a backwoods rapist/murderer with one of the worst beards since Duck Dynasty. This is the same kind of attitude that saw me working in a betting shop instead of attending University. I could have been riding high on sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Instead I work in an industry where promotions are offered based on your ability to pinch one off and arrive back at the counter to accept the 25p virtual horse racing bet from the local drunk with the IQ of a microwave Pizza. And let’s not even mention being able to swallow. Lots of criticism that is. Yes, being able to swallow lots and lots of rich criticism. It’s not all bad though, the customers compliment me on my “resting bitch face” and my wife rests easy, knowing they also have the sexual qualities of an ingrown toenail.
Decision making has never been top of my skill sets, instead I leave many decisions to other people or in this case, simply bow to the pressures of social media. I loathe spoilers with an almighty passion, in the same way my daughter loathes vegetables or the people of my town loathe good personal hygiene. So learning from the Star Wars minefield that I had to contend with on a daily basis, I have taken the bull by the horns and have begun the ten episode saga while public opinion has yet to enter my mind.
Filmed over a ten year period I have decided to take a similar approach with this post. I’m not going to write over ten years by any means, however, I have decided to write a few paragraphs at a time after each episode. That way this blog can be in keeping with the general mood of the show, which having watched three episodes so far, has changed its mind more than Caitlin Jenner.
What we’ve learned so far. Steven Avery spent eighteen years in prison for a violent sexual assault that he was wrongly convicted for. After DNA evidence proves his innocence, he is released in 2003 to a world barely recognisable from the one he was locked away from in 1985. To be released into a world where Michael Jackson was now a white man, must have had him questioning his entire sense of reality. After observing all the evidence and listening to statements from those involved in the case, a picture is painted of an apparent vendetta the Manitowoc Police department had against this man. Seemingly ignoring or hiding fresh evidence that would have helped Steven’s case for freedom, until his eventual release.
Only by pleading guilty to this crime would have made Steven eligible for parole. As the years went by I cannot begin to understand the ideas that must have gone through his head. Although with an IQ of 70, I’m not sure he’s ever had any ideas. He could be free if he ignored his innocence and pleaded guilty to the crime. The internal struggle doesn’t bare thinking about. Be granted his freedom or stand true to his convictions.
As fate would have it, Steven Avery would become a free man and a national celebrity overnight. A bill would even be passed in his name in an attempt to make sure such a miscarriage of justice could never happen again. All the while, those responsible for his wrongful imprisonment failed to stand up and accept any fault or liability for this wrong doing, a lawsuit would ensue.
A wise man might decide to start a new life away from the county he was suing, given his less than private outburst against the corruption of the Manitowoc police department towards himself and his family, for little reason other than they resembled the antagonists from The Hills Have Eyes, and the tiny details surrounding him running his cousin (the wife of a police officer) off the road and holding her at gunpoint. He may have sharpened his beard to look like the Sons Of Anarchy, but there was no sharpening his mind.
Two years later at the business end of his civil lawsuit, Steven Avery was arrested for the murder of Teresa Halbach, a photographer for an auto magazine who’s last location was with Steven Avery. It didn’t take long before her vehicle was found on the grounds of Steven’s auto salvage company, prompting a search warrant to be issued for the grounds. After weeks of having sole access to the site, enough evidence was seemingly found to charge Steven with the murder of Miss Halbach. Once again he found himself behind bars, possibly the worst case of Deja vu since I woke up this morning and realised I’m still not a millionaire.
Steven Avery may not be an intelligent man, but next to his nephew and defence witness Brendan Dassey, he’s made to look like Stephen Hawking. At only sixteen, Brendan has the permanent facial expression of someone still trying to understand a joke he was told the week before. I keep waiting for the moment the punchline finally hits and he bursts into spontaneous laughter during one of his interrogations, if only so he could focus on what kind of monumental mess he’d put himself in.
Watching Brendan being questioned alone by two trained police officers actually makes for some uncomfortable viewing. It’s like watching two playground bullies pulling the legs off a spider, before grabbing the magnifying glass and heading for the nearest ant colony. This was a young lad who’s response to being asked what colour an orange was, would have been two grunts and an “I don’t know.” Metaphorically I’ve kicked a few puppies in my time, but this was like drowning said puppy and wearing it’s hide like a loincloth.
Watching the interrogation being led by the investigators was difficult to watch, without any representation present, being in a parent or an attorney, Brendan became the paint on the end of their brushes, as they produced their Picasso, a distorted and inconsistent image of all the facts available to them. Completely unaware of the consequences to be had from going along with their story, Brendan dug himself into a larger and larger hole as they enticed an imaginative tale from his lips. Just like that the prosecution had a confession complete with being an accomplice to kidnapping, forced imprisonment, sexual assault, homicide and mutilation. One dragon away from the plotline to every episode of Game Of Thrones. To which point Brendan innocently askes if he’ll be finished in time for his presentation back at school. When questioned as to why he made this confession, he said he was guessing at what they wanted to hear, just like he did with his homework. I think I’ll let this one speak for itself.
Come episode five we have jumped forward to February 2007 and the beginning of Steven Avery’s trial. In an apparent attempt to confuse the prosecution into thinking he’s one of them, he sports yet another new facial feature in a handlebar moustache. In theory everybody has the right to a fair trial. The reality to this case is that for months the mainstream media has been portraying Steven as a guilty man, and any hope of a jury without any preconceived opinions on the case is highly optimistic.
Predicted to last six weeks and with five episodes still to go, the trial ahead is going to be a long and gruelling one I’m sure. Although I haven’t got six weeks to present both sides of the story, I will say this. Shit just got real. Knowing that a verdict was passed years ago and one quick search on Google could reveal the outcome is throwing temptation in my face that even Jesus himself would be sweating over. It’s times like these I wonder why I have any kind of life at all, when I could give it all up and watch the remaining five hours in my underpants and Cheetos stained vest.
The back and forth of early witness testimonies and questioning is like a sing off from Pitch Perfect, complete with bitch stares and no lack of sass spared from the sparring attorneys and prosecution. As I write this, having just given my wife the lowdown of the current events, I find myself itching to re-join the courtroom, alas an early night beckons and the jury will have to be dismissed for my next two working days.
Having every intention of mulling over the first of the court proceedings, albeit unwillingly, I have found time during my lunch break to re-join the case as my wife entertains herself with Vlogs, so I cant be judged. It’s my opinion that the show does all it can in putting your faith in Steven Avery’s innocence. We want him to be innocent, and more importantly we hope that the jury is seeing how absurd some of the “evidence” against him is. However, it’s this tunnel vision of the prosecution and the parading of Steven’s guilt pre-trial that has me doubting the preconceptions of the jury.
Here I am being empathetic over a possible murder, as if the documentary was filmed by the guys at Disney Pixar. Maybe we’ll get a post credits sting with Ellen DeGeneres doing a voiceover, setting the whole thing up for a shared Pixar universe starting with this Summer’s much anticipated Finding Dory, in which I’m sure Steven Avery is the prime suspect in her missing persons case.
The more I see of the lead prosecutor Ken Kratz, the more I’m convinced he commutes in from Whoville. With the voice of a chipmunk and the eyes of an alert field mouse, I’m just waiting for the moment somebody cracks open a window for an owl to swoop in and claw him away. I’ve come to loathe the very sound of Ken Kratz’ voice, watching his tongue wiggle around as he speaks, I’m expecting Lizard man theories any day now.
Closing arguments bring the court case to an end, just like that it’s all over and all that hangs between a verdict of guilty or not guilty are twelve jurors from Manitowoc County. It seems like an age of waiting. To try and understand how the families of the accused and the victim feel, I imagine it’s like waiting for The Walking Dead to return to my screen during its mid season hiatus.
Come the end of episode eight a verdict is finally passed by the jury after days of deliberations. My heart pounds out of my chest like the times my wife asks me to repeat back what she had just said, as the toppings of my pizza slip carelessly close to falling on my lap. Half expecting a commercial break, the verdict hits…
Episode nine comes thick and fast. I’ve barely had chance to absorb Steven Avery’s trail as we advance to April for the trial of Brendan Dassey. Another year gone and another year wiser, Brendan seems to have figured the punchline to the joke and is fully aware of his predicament, now sporting a pair of glasses as he hasn’t managed the handlebar moustache like his uncle. If Steven had the best attorneys that money could buy, then Brendan’s defence was almost non existent. It was like leaving him outside during The Purge with nothing but a soggy tea bag and the instruction manual to a Nokia 3210.
Proceedings are short and a verdict is passed. Before I know it episode ten beckons. The last of the series is upon me. Just like that the trials and tribulations are over and we progress year by year to see how everybody is doing after the events of the season. Steven now looks like one of The Beatles and has managed to bag himself yet another lady in his life, I don’t know how he does it but he already seems set on marrying her. Brendan on the other hand seems to have spent the last eight years perfecting the Truffle Shuffle, while Teresa Halbach’s brother still remains shady as fuck. Ken Kratz has had his comeuppance, not by swooping owl but compromises were made. All together things seem to have settled in the Teresa Halbach homicide case. Or have they?
With rumours of another season of the hit documentary being commissioned, is this the last we will see of Steven Avery, or is this just the beginning? When my wife asked what I was going to watch now, I struggled to find an answer. I told her I’ve been left with a Steven Avery sized hole in my life, at which point she began to wonder what kind of show I was watching.
Thinking back to the verdicts passed by the juries, it has been a rollercoaster of a ride, an incredible journey, in fact every reality show cliché ever recited. I haven’t learned how to make a murderer, but what I do know is this. If I ever feel like committing one, I know who I’ll be framing.