The nuns in The Sound of Music asked: How do you solve a problem like Maria? Making a Murderer Part 2 has a similar problem almost as soon as it begins. How do you solve a problem like being a massive Netflix hit that became so ubiquitous, it was later referenced in Riverdale? Making a Murderer was a cultural phenomenon, something that the second season seeks to disavow immediately. Sort of like how celebrities insist that they’re “low-key.” (Sure, Lady Gaga!) Yes, this show was a big deal. The opening moments of the season 2 premiere features a montage of Megyn Kelly reported on it. Avery’s defense lawyers earned the title of national sex symbols. Steven Avery, however, is still in prison. So is Brendan Dassey. To some extent, the people involved in the first season are themselves in prison, shackled to this one portrayal of Steven Avery’s case.
In other words, Making a Murderer Part 2 has a lot to discuss, almost more than it had the previous season. The first episode primarily concerns itself with the arrival of Kathleen Zellner, an attorney known for winning “unwinnable” wrongful conviction cases. Zellner isn’t just working to free Steven Avery; she’s effectively doing the work the first season did in discrediting Ken Kratz, the prosecutor assigned to Avery’s case.
Kratz, by the way, didn’t fare so well post-Making a Murderer. He’s one of the people involved in the first season who hasn’t been able to escape it. His Yelp page is littered with angry reviews, and he’s been receiving death threats. In this first episode, Kratz reads one threat aloud that wishes rape upon Kratz’s daughter. Off-camera, he’s been working to discredit the show entirely, publishing a book dedicated to Avery’s guilt. (The week the show premiered, Kratz had also appeared on a podcast to disprove the second season preemptively.) Kratz also later resigned, something that will come up in later episodes.
Avery’s lawyers did a little better. They went on a speaking tour of the country, chatting with audiences about this strange, strange case. They’re no longer assigned to Avery, but, like Kratz, Dean Strang and Jerry Buting are irrevocably invested in Avery’s future. Just now, they are on the sidelines, despondent-looking soccer moms hopeful that Zellner (and Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi, the filmmakers behind the series) will win this game. They remain optimistic, per a scene from one of their national tour talks.
If Strang and Buting are the well-meaning hand-wringers of the PTA, then Zellner is the newly elected president with steel in her smile. Avery himself recruited Zellner via Sandy Greenman, the woman who, as of season 1, was his girlfriend. (Her title card now reads “Steven’s friend.”) She climbed aboard the Avery train with his innocence set in her sights. Zellner is going to single-handedly drive this season, so get used to her presence. If, last season, Demos and Ricciardi were quietly persuading us of Avery’s innocence, Zellner is going to shout it from the rooftops.
Here’s how: First, per Zellner, she has to disprove every piece of evidence that Ken Kratz told the jury in 2006.
“It’s demonstrably false, what he told them. And I intend to do that on each piece of evidence that he presented to the jury,” Zellner declares.
Here’s what she disproves in the first episode alone:
The DNA evidence via the blood from a cut on Avery’s finger is in the car.
The prosecution assert that Avery’s finger dripped blood near the driver’s seat of the car. Zellner consulted Stuart James, a blood pattern expert, who agrees that the spatter in the front seat — a few streaks of blood — doesn’t look like it matches the cut on Avery’s finger. The blood would be in a “higher volume” if it did come from the cut, which was significant.
The blood pattern on the back door of the car.
Once again, Zellner recreates having an associate pick up a bloody mannequin and simulate the act of putting Theresa’s body in the car. The result? Virtually no blood spatter.
Remember, though, that Kratz insisted that Avery’s sweat was under the hood latch. You can’t plant sweat evidence. How do you solve a problem like sweat evidence?
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