Much like platforms such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ has been adamant about releasing quality content to get their name out there. DEFENDING JACOB is one of the most recent series’ to come to an end and if shows like this and many others like THE MORNING SHOW, DICKINSON, and MYTHIC QUEST are any proof of how their future entertainment will be, I can’t wait for more. This mini-series is far from perfect, but if you’re able to ignore certain aspects, it’s actually pretty fantastic. The subject matter may be a little too much for some viewers to take in, but here’s why this series deserves attention overall.
After the body of a young boy is discovered in the woods, young Jacob Barber (Jaeden Martell), who is one of his classmates, is accused of murdering him. His father being an assistant DA, things begin to get interesting. Taken off the case and placing himself in the heat of the trial, Jacob’s father will stop at nothing to fight for his son. As the series progresses, it keeps a lot of things vague, leaving it to the audience to decide whether he’s guilty or not. By the time this series reaches its peak around the seventh episode, the story really begins to unravel in surprising ways. I wasn’t a huge fan of the last 20 minutes or so of the final episode, but I think that’s only due to the fact that I was expecting it to go in a way that it didn’t.
Jaeden Martell has been a superb young actor for many years now. Appearing in films that I love, such as ST. VINCENT (2014), KNIVES OUT (2019), and MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (2016) (to name a few), his dedication to this eerie teenager was unnerving to watch. Although he’s had some major roles in feature films, I can see his career being pretty great as he progresses. On top of his great performance, Chris Evans as his father Andy was just as good. In fact, I’ve never disliked any of his performances, even in terrible films, so maybe I’m a little biased on that one. Who I’m struggling to praise, however, is Michelle Dockery as Jacob’s mother. There were moments where she was the best performer in the series, but others where I felt the screenplay wasn’t giving her enough to show her range. She did a great job, but I felt that this character could’ve been shown a little more love in the script.
Where this series really shines is in the surprise factor. Yes, it’s very slow-moving, but I think that’s what they were going for. I felt that the amount of time focused on each character was meant to try and put the audience in their state of mind. This is the type of series that will have fans divided in terms of their opinion on the subject matter and who is really good or bad throughout the story. I certainly have my opinion on certain characters, but I won’t ruin that here. I thought the payoff more most of the characters felt right, even some of the secondary ones.
In the end, DEFENDING JACOB deals with some very harsh subject matter and some of the outcomes will probably disgust or offend some viewers. For myself, it felt like a dirty story, but also something that needs to be out there. There’s a lot of violence in this world and we really need to weed out who should be accused. That’s what I thought the message of this series was. Look, it’s not perfect and the finale left a little to be desired, but I believe, if you can stomach some harsh subject matter, definitely check this
mini-series out. DEFENDING JACOB is now streaming all eight episodes on Apple TV+.