Three years ago, a complete phenomenon took over on Netflix. It was called Making a Murderer. This documentary told the story of Steven Avery, a man who was wrongfully imprisoned, serving 18 years of a 35-year sentence before being released. Just two years after his release, he was at the centre of another case; the murder of Teresa Halbach. Assuming you’ve watched season one, there are spoilers ahead as I dive into the first two episodes of season two.
What Happened in Season One?
Watching back some of the reminder scenes brought a lot of it back and just how crazy the whole story is. Avery, wrongfully imprisoned, released and then accused of another murder while, at the same time, suing Manitowoc County for $36-million. The prosecution side was led by Ken Kratz, a very unlikeable type who was later publically shamed for a sexting scandal and right back at the very start of it all, it appeared that police had coerced a confession from Brendan Dassey, Avery’s nephew.
What’s Different in Making a Murderer Season Two?
Season one focuses on the murder of Teresa Halbach and who the police came to suspect, arrest and charge both Avery and Dassey, despite some questionable evidence gathering along the way. Again, if you’ve reached this stage without watching season one, stop and go watch it.
Season two is the natural progression. The two men are in prison and desperately seeking support to continue their efforts to clear their names. The early episodes re-introduce those involved from the first season while also introducing some new protagonists; namely Kathleen Zellner.
Who is Kathleen Zellner?
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we’re talking about real people who are involved in a real-life murder case. So it does feel weird to say it like this, but the true stars of the first season were Avery’s legal team of Dean Strang and Jerome Buting. The public became obsessed with these guys, so much so they’ve been touring and giving public talks since appearing on Netflix in 2015. Soon after Avery lost his case, these legal team stepped aside and since 2016 he has been represented by Kathleen Zellner.
Zellner is known as a specialist when it comes to freeing the wrongfully accused. I still struggle with how I feel about the case and whether or not I think Avery is guilty, but if he’s not Zellner is the woman who’ll get him off the hook. Zellner has righted more wrongful prosecutions than any private attorney in America and in the opening episodes of Making a Murderer season two says if you’re guilty, hiring her is the stupidest thing you can do because she’ll find out your guilty.
How Does Season Two Play Out?
I’m afraid I’ve got no idea who season two plays out. I’ve only had the chance to watch two episodes and they spend a lot of time running through the case to date, updating us on Avery and Dassey along with seeing some early blood splatter testing by Zellner and her team. She’s bought the iconic Rav 4 four-by-four found on the Avery lot which Halbach drove and through some quick tests decides that positioning of the blood is not consistent with what sent Avery to prison.
Being totally honest, the first two episodes aren’t as gripping as season one. There’s a lot of setting up and reminding to be done. I’m actually shocked that season one first appeared on our screens nearly three years ago. The reason it’s taken so long for season two? The US criminal system moves extremely slowly. One of the documentary’s creators said Making a Murderer really just follows individuals “fighting for the right to have a court listen to their arguments” The creators are uncovering a convoluted post-conviction process where the odds are stacked against the defendant.
I knew this process was very long and slow, it took years to come down, and I knew the odds were against you. But I don’t think I understood how the door to the courtroom is closed and you have to fight so hard just to get into court to present your evidence. I thought when you found evidence that would matter, but there’s a lot you can’t count on.
Whether or not season two can live up to the phenomenon that was season one or not remains to be seen. Two episodes in, I could really see this going one of two ways. There may not be much more of a story left to tell, or perhaps the story is only getting started. You’ll just have to watch season two in full to find out. I’ll do up a full review once I binge on the rest of season two.
Making a Murderer season two is streaming today on Netflix Ireland.