WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Defending Jacob, now streaming on Apple TV+.
Defending Jacob’s Andy Barber (Chris Evans) is looking for anything to put solution his son Jacob (Jaeden Martell) in a better light. Evidence is stacking in the case of a murdered classmate and even Jacob’s mom, Laurie (Michelle Dockery), is thinking her son committed the atrocious act.
However, in “Damage Control,” Andy and the defense team discover there might be one last resort that could help Jacob if he’s found guilty. The only caveat is that it involves them partnering with the show’s newest and most personal villain, Andy’s dad, William (J.K. Simmons).
Little is revealed about William at this point as the series has kept him in a mysterious light. The only thing that’s clear is that he was kept a secret by Andy because he was convicted of murdering and raping a university student years ago. His sordid history of violence led to him being known as “Bloody Billy Barber.”
The bombshell revelation rocked Laurie’s world and she secretly researches William, with files coming to their home and the mom hiding it. In flash-forwards to the case, Andy’s grilled on why Laurie seemed so intrigued, with hints something might have happened to her in the past. Nonetheless, with the lawyer Joanna (Cherry Jones) showing the family in the present that Jacob’s alibi has holes, they need something solid. Andy knows the burden of proof is on the state and so, he won’t put his kid on the stand. All they need to do is pick apart the prosecution, but it’s risky as Jacob made several online attacks on the deceased Ben, and the kids mourning him.
In other words, Jacob looks guilty and with fingerprints on Ben, it’s grim. That’s why Elizabeth (Poorna Jagannathan), the therapist involved in the defense, is working on the “murder gene” theory. They want to show William’s murder gene skipped Andy and went to Jacob. Studies done, specifically in Europe, showed that the MAOA and CDH13 genes were found in many killers, and this propensity for violence in their DNA is what pushes people like William and his grandson over the edge. If the boy is convicted, they could use these results to “mitigate” his sentence. It’ll be dropped from first-degree to second-degree murder, meaning he could get 20 years instead of life without parole.
The problem is they need DNA swabbing from William and he’s refusing to do it unless Andy meets him and begs for help. This sets up an explosive affair because when Andy’s mom took him to visit William in jail in flashbacks, there were sinister shots of rotting teeth and tattoos. It seemed to scar Andy for life, and now he’s having nightmares again as he reconciles Jacob’s dilemma. That said, as reluctant as Andy is, he quickly ends the predicament and agrees to meet his dad because he needs a contingency measure to show what could have triggered Jacob if the boy is indeed a killer.
Written by Mark Bomback and directed by Morten Tyldum, Defending Jacob stars Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, Pablo Schreiber, Cherry Jones, Jaeden Martell, Sakina Jaffrey, Betty Gabriel and J.K. Simmons. The miniseries is now streaming on Apple TV+ with new episodes out every Friday.
Defending Jacob introduced a nasty, personal villain who could play a key role in ensuring the titular character has a future.