Jaedenn Martell is a phenomenal actor.
That is my main takeaway from Defending Jacob Season 1 Episode 4, which found Joanna putting Jacob on the spot to ask the questions we needed answers to following the three-episode premiere.
One minute I think Jacob is being stitched up for a crime he didn't commit, and the next, Martell adds another layer to the character, and it makes me question whether Jacob is rehearsing his answers.
There were several moments during "Damage Control," in which his answers slipped off the tongue. In others, he had to think about them, and that raises some suspicion in my book.
More concerning was that he didn't seem too cut up about finding the dead body. What I would like to know is how Jacob managed to identify the kid from a distance.
He's throwing around the "I thought I'd get in trouble" schtick, and I'm not buying it. Understandably, people react differently to being in the vicinity of a dead body, but there has to be a reason why he decided against alerting anyone.
Unless he has a motive for murder, there's no excuse for that.
His poorly cobbled together answers are not going to fly in the courtroom, and if he struggled with the general questions from Joanna, then he's going to face an uphill battle when prosecutors come for him.
Jacob: I just wanted it. That's all.
Joanna: But why did you want it?
Jacob: I just did. It was a cool knife.
Joanna: The DA will say you bought it because you were being bullied by Ben. They're going to use that as motive.
Jacob: But it wasn't.
Joanna: Your friend Derek seems to think otherwise. Tell me why you think Derek connected your knife to what happened to Ben?
Jacob: I don't know. Maybe he's the real killer and he wants to blame me for it.
Andy: Hold on a minute.
Jacob: I'm just saying.
Joanna: This isn't a game, Jacob. If you think Derek had something to do with this, we need to know why you think it.
Andy: Do you really think Derek had something to do with this?
Jacob: I don't. You asked me why he's blaming me. I don't know why.
His story was filled with holes. That's a huge concern, and he's going to find himself in a troubling scenario if he doesn't get it straight quickly.
I appreciate how Joanna thinks attacking the evidence is the best course of action. There are some great points there, but Jacob's knife disappearing makes him look like even more of a suspect in the eyes of the law.
Andy was struggling to protect his son, but taking it upon himself to dispose of it was the worst thing he could have done. What could have been a clean-cut case for Jacob could have been so much easier had Andy just followed the law.
Derek has been sketchy since the jump, so it was only a matter of time before he was hauled in for questioning. My best theory on this is that he carried out the killing and convincingly pinned it on Jacob.
There has to be a reason why Derek was at Jacob's home on the day of the murder, and the show paid particular attention to him carrying his bag.
Could the real murder weapon be located in the teen's bag? That would be dumb, but we can probably expect Derek to be hiding any evidence he might have now that he's in the crosshairs of the law.
Andy: He didn't do it, Joanna. I know his story sucks, but he's a kid. They get confused. They say dumb things.
Joanna: I know.
Andy: He's innocent.
Joanna: We're gonna get him through this, I promise, but when you start talking about giving the jury a better story.
Andy: The story is Leonard Patz.
Joanna: There is nothing connecting him to this case.
Andy: Yeah, cause no one's looked. No one's taken the time.
Andy will do anything he can do to save his son, but visiting his murderous father seemed like too much to ask. There's a lot we don't know about Andy's past, and the tattoo of the snake is just the tip of the iceberg.
I can't help but wonder what his father wants with him. Will he want to forge a relationship, will he be mad that Andy acts like he doesn't exist? There is so much we still don't know, and that's problematic.
Andy will defend his son until the cows come home, but it's clear his weakness is his father. This is a whole aspect of his life he kept on the down-low for years.
Poor Laurie does not know what she's gotten herself into here.
Laurie had a perfect life. She had a good job, friends, and was happy. Now, she feels alone, and like she has to pick up groceries at the crack of dawn, so she doesn't find herself in danger because of the allegations against her son.
Laurie: What does a parent do? Just tell me and I'll do it. You wanna go for burgers at Lee's and have the whole town stare at us? That's fine. We can do that.
Laurie: No! I mean it. Maybe we're doing this wrong acting like prisoners in our own home, sneaking out at all hours just to get a simple errand done. Just tell me what to do because I have absolutely no idea anymore. Okay?
Jacob: Okay. I'm sorry.
She likes company, and that's why she chatted with the reporter in her moment of weakness at the diner. After the comment from Joanna, it was only a matter of time before one of the characters crossed paths with a journalist.
Laurie was the perfect pick for this storyline because of the way her life has changed. Everything she thought she knew was revealed to be lies, and that will take its toll on the best of us.
Unfortunately, speaking to the woman in the diner is going to set the case back in a significant way. The comment about taking things off the record was nice and all, but the reporter preyed on Laurie's sorrow.
That's the world we live in, and it should not be allowed.
Neil: To find out that your husband's father was none other than... what was the nickname they call him? Comes up in a few of these articles.
Andy: Bloody Billy.
Even when the case is over, there is going to be a ripple effect that means there is no normal for the Barber family.
"Damage Control" was much stronger than the initial episodes. With tighter storytelling, first-rate acting, and an intriguing mystery, the show could blossom into a hit.
We're halfway through, so we should start to get more concrete answers soon.
The results of the test should change things up somewhat, because everyone seems determined to prove Jacob has the serial killer gene.
What did you think of the way Jacob kept changing his story? Do you think he's a liar?
Hit the comments below.
Defending Jacob airs Fridays on Apple TV+.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.