The following recap contains spoilers for Love & Death Episode 7, “Ssssshh” (written by David E. Kelley, James Atkinson & John Bloom, and directed by Lesli Linka Glatter)
We reached the final episode of Love & Death, which concluded the trial of Candy Montgomery. I went into this show knowing what the outcome would be. A simple Google search would give that information. Knowing how it would end still didn’t prepare me for how many times I would be pissed off during the trial. The conclusion was no exception.
Last week’s episode showed Candy (Elizabeth Olsen) self-medicating with Serax. The effects were meant to calm her nerves, but in turn made her very stoic, almost zombie-like. When the judge was ready for her to take the stand, Don questioned whether she was ready.
Candy confirms in this week’s opening that, “I’m as ready as I’m gonna get.” So off to the stand she goes. Don warns her not to hold back any information, otherwise, the jury will sense it. As she readies herself on the stand, Pat (Patrick Fugit) and Allan (Jesse Plemons) sit outside in the hall. They don’t say much. They never do. Pat looks sad though, and I feel kind of bad for the fella for being such a sucker.
Candy on the Stand
Don questions Candy and asks if she’s ever been in any physical or verbal altercations at any point in her life. She says she hasn’t. Then he begins questioning her about the events of June 13, when Betty (Lily Rabe) was killed.
Candy begins when she arrives at Betty’s house. As she talks about it, we are finally shown through flashbacks what happened. I feel I am pretty desensitized when watching gorey and brutal scenes, but I had an “Oh my God” moment when watching this one.
In the flashback, Betty has the ax, all while Candy is screaming that she doesn’t want him (Allan). Betty swings the ax upward, knocking it into Candy’s forehead. Then Betty swings down, cutting Candy’s toe. Candy begins to run out of the door, but Betty stops her. They struggle before Candy gains control of the ax, but Betty takes a bite of Candy’s hand.
Candy repeats that she doesn’t want “him” and Betty shushes her. According to the psychiatrist on the stand later, that “shhh” caused Candy to go into full-on rage mode.
They struggle some more, but Candy is able to push Betty to the ground. She brings the ax down right in the center of Betty’s head. It looked like it was in there good, but Betty is still fully conscious and trying to get up. Candy hits her again, and again, and again. All the while Betty is still awake and moving. It was a truly horrendous sight. The dogs look through the window and bark as Candy is still going at it. This time you see flaps of skin and blood everywhere.
Candy tells Don and the jury that she was afraid that Betty would get back up so she just kept hitting her. She admits she was in denial after she left and she wanted to make it all go away so she pretended it never happened.
Don pulls out the ax from the evidence and holds it in front of Candy, which causes her to look away and beg him to not show it anymore. He tells her later, in private, that he only did it to evoke emotion from her because the jury needed to see that.
The prosecution questions her next and their job is to poke holes in her story. One way they try to do this is by showing her one of her sunglass lenses, which was found in the Gores’ garage. According to Candy she never went into the garage, but yet her lens was found there. All this to say she is a liar.
They also bring up the baby. Candy left Betty’s baby alone after the murder, knowing full well that if no one came to check on Betty, the baby could have died. I was extremely happy that someone finally brought this up as I was yelling at my TV the last weeks waiting for someone to remember this. Candy blames it on the trauma and denial. She wasn’t thinking clearly. They accuse her of being a good liar and objections are flying from all around.
Don decides later that evening that Pat would have to take the stand. The jury might forgive murder but not adultery. Gotta love the priorities here. On the stand, Pat tells the jury he has forgiven her for the affair and that he blames himself because he wasn’t emotionally available to her. He is thankful to God as well because Betty was a large woman and could have easily taken Candy’s life.
It is the psychiatrist’s turn and I think he’s the one that seals the deal here. He goes over the trauma Candy faced as a child and that her mom shushed her as well. He argues that she experienced disassociated reactions, meaning she disassociated the murder from her mind. She felt it never happened because her mind blocked it out. It was only through hypnosis that she was able to fully remember it was real.
Then you have the Pastor of the church talking shit about Betty on the stand. Later, Allan watches him on TV still talking shit. Allan looks sad until the camera pulls out and we see a woman sitting with him. We have seen her in episodes past offering him help when Betty died. He tells her he feels guilty. She comforts him by saying it’s not his fault and giving him a kiss (which he doesn’t fight). Allan has made his transformation into a full douche canoe.
Speaking of talking mess about Betty, Carol reminds Don that Betty was his friend too and that he shouldn’t have had people talk bad about her on the stand. She tells him the guilt will stay with him for the rest of his life. Maybe it did, as we find out later that he killed himself in 1998.
Don gives his closing statement. He tells the jury that it’s natural to want to hold someone accountable when a life is lost, but that Candy will always be punished in the jail cell she built in her mind. He adds that the state was unable to prove she murdered Betty with intent and that there is reasonable doubt here.
The prosecution points out that everything they have been told has been Candy’s version of events and that no one can refute them because the only person who could, is dead.
The jury comes back with a verdict, not guilty. No surprise there.
As Pat pointed out, not guilty doesn’t equate to innocent in people’s minds. Candy will be judged as long as they stick around, so they don’t. Eight days later, they are packed and ready to head off to Georgia for a fresh start. Not before stopping to see Allan, of course.
Pat pulls in front of Allan’s home. Candy says she will be just a moment. After everything, Pat is OK with bringing his wife to her lover’s house to say goodbye. Oh yes, it’s also the house where she killed someone. He should have driven off with his kids and left her there, but I digress.
Allan opens the door and has his signature blank stare. She tells him she wants to say goodbye since she is moving away. His reply is simply, “OK.” They both then throw apologies at each other and wish the other a good life.
What happened to everyone?
Well, Pat and Candy divorced after moving to Georgia. Allan marries again, twice, while Betty’s folks raise the children, and Don ends his life in 1998.
What really made my jaw fall off of my face was when we learned that Candy went on to be a family therapist, helping teens and adults with depression. Are you kidding me? In what world is it acceptable for someone who committed murder to be any sort of mental health professional? If we are to accept the facts Candy, Don, and her psychiatrist provided then we are to believe that Candy has unresolved trauma in her past which contributed to her snapping and killing Betty so brutally. Is that the sort of person who should be guiding others? We can choose to believe the other explanation that she killed Betty because she wanted Allan, but again is this the person who should be helping others with their mental health issues?
Lastly, we learn that an autopsy showed that Betty was not pregnant. I suppose this is a small blessing as it made the murder seem that much more gruesome.
The show has been frustrating on so many levels, but it is more because this is how the events played out in real life and not because the show was bad. The actors were amazing, especially Elizabeth Olsen and Lily Rabe. I look forward to seeing what they do in the future. I had fun hearing the mixed reactions from viewers on whether Candy was good or evil. I suppose we will never truly know.