MAK­ING A MUR­DERER: PART TWO

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TAKE -

NEW YORK TIMES

The adage that the doc­u­men­tar­ian’s cam­era af­fects the events it records has never been more self-ev­i­dently true. Moira De­mos and Laura Ric­cia­rdi, who wrote and di­rected both sea­sons, open the new se­ries with a news clip mon­tage demon­strat­ing the im­pact of the orig­i­nal. As they con­tinue the sto­ries of Steven Avery and his nephew Bren­dan Dassey, both serv­ing life sen­tences in Wis­con­sin for a 2005 murder, TV news crews are ever-present. The at­ten­tion drawn by Mak­ing a Mur­derer even cre­ates its own spoiler prob­lem: Any­one who has fol­lowed Mr Avery’s and Mr Dassey’s cases since the first sea­son is likely to know the out­comes of the hear­ings and ap­peals that are sup­posed to pro­vide much of the sus­pense this time around.

Part 2 still of­fers its share of the mys­tery and sur­prise that made the orig­i­nal so com­pelling. It has an A plot, in which Mr Avery’s new lawyer, Kathleen Zell­ner, con­ducts an ex­haus­tive re-ex­am­i­na­tion of his case. And it has a B plot, in which Mr Dassey’s lawyers try to prove that he was con­victed be­cause of a co­erced con­fes­sion. Bridg­ing the two are scenes with the men’s in­ter­twined fam­i­lies that can be repet­i­tive but at their best are pow­er­fully emo­tional. VULTURE

Ric­cia­rdi and De­mos ap­ply the same stylis­tic touches to Mak­ing a Mur­derer Part Two as they did to the first, lin­ger­ing on close-ups of bird feed­ers or hold­ing on over­head views of the ex­panse of land in Man­i­towoc County that give the se­ries an artsy air. Hav­ing seen Amer­i­can Van­dal,

the true-crime par­ody that riffed on Mak­ing a Mur­derer, some of the film­mak­ers’ choices reg­is­tered as far more com­i­cal to me than they did dur­ing the first go-round.

The most damn­ing com­ments about the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion are saved for the fi­nal episode, when the film­mak­ers speak to De­bra Kakatsch, who was act­ing as the county coro­ner at the time of Hal­bach’s homi­cide. What she says speaks very clearly to some kind of cover-up and cor­rup­tion on the part of po­lice in the case. Whether that, or any­thing else, will even­tu­ally change things for Dassey or Avery re­mains to be seen. De­spite all of the ob­sta­cles in their way, the ac­cused killers and their com­mit­ted at­tor­neys be­lieve that the arc of his­tory bends to­ward jus­tice. But if Mak­ing a Mur­derer Part Two teaches us any­thing, it’s that finding jus­tice can take a long damn time. VA­RI­ETY Per­haps the show would have played out dif­fer­ently had the fam­ily of the vic­tim cho­sen to par­tic­i­pate; as it stands, we see only Avery and Dassey, watch­ing their lives tick away as they and their fam­i­lies get older and wea­rier of wait­ing for a free­dom that seems ever-more elusive. They can’t help but be­come sym­pa­thetic, and the viewer can’t help but com­ing to his or her own opin­ion about what re­ally hap­pened. It’s easy to see why so many have signed pe­ti­tions for the pair’s re­lease, and to un­der­stand why prose­cu­tors view it as free ad­ver­tis­ing for Avery’s and Dassey’s cause.

In her least re­spon­si­ble mo­ments, Zell­ner floats an en­tirely new the­ory of the case to cam­eras. It’s a hail-Mary play at­tempt­ing to find a new way to­wards free­dom even as ev­ery door seems closed; that it threat­ens to break apart the Avery-Dassey fam­ily is trun­dled past quickly by Zell­ner. If any­thing, the show seems to have made it more dif­fi­cult for Avery to be ex­on­er­ated. Many al­ready-ru­ined lives seem yet worse off un­der the cam­era’s glare, and the al­readyvenge­ful court sys­tem is yet more op­posed to what­ever com­pro­mise might have been found un­der other cir­cum­stances.

GUARDIAN

One episode is es­sen­tially given over to the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of burn­ing a body, an­other to how Teresa Hal­bach’s blood ended up on the back door of her car. Both are as grue­some as they are rev­e­la­tory. It is a sharp re­minder that with crime, there is al­ways a vic­tim.

The re­ac­tion of the view­ing pub­lic to the case is mes­meris­ing. Avery’s ded­i­cated sup­port­ers cam­paign for his re­lease, but they also write to him and send pictures. One made a scrap­book for Avery’s mother, an­other a quilt pieced to­gether from pho­to­graphs of Dassey. At one point we see two fu­ri­ous groups of pro­test­ers out­side the court­room, shout­ing for and against the pair. In this age of anger, it seemed familiar and crude; it made for one of the more un­set­tling scenes.

Those who watched the first sea­son are likely to have fol­lowed the cover­age since, and will know the cur­rent state of Avery and Dassey, which some­what dulls the ten­sion. And there is an is­sue of bal­ance: this has been made by peo­ple on Avery and Dassey’s side. At the end of each episode is a list of peo­ple who de­clined to be in­ter­viewed, or did not re­spond to re­quests. It is 79 names long, and six of those are Hal­bachs.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: NET­FLIX

Steven Avery’s at­tor­ney Kathleen Zell­ner faces the press in Mak­ing a Mur­derer: Part Two.

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