Arts, Television, Review

‘Making a Murderer’ Season 2 Adds Mystery to Murder Trial

After a first season that captured the hearts and attention of people all around the world three years ago, Making a Murderer has returned. The critically and publicly acclaimed Netflix documentary series continues right where it left off at the end of the first season. The show tells the story of Steven Avery, a man who alleges that he was wrongly imprisoned for a murder he didn’t commit, and that he was purposely framed by local police that wanted to put him behind bars over personal quarrels they had had with him. Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, is also a focal point of the show, as he has been charged as an accomplice to the murder after giving a confession that he later said  the police had coerced out of him.

Not much has changed in terms of the show’s setup. The editing style is the same, the music is the same, even the title sequence is exactly the same. While these elements keep the show consistent, they also cause a lot of repetition, which can make the series seem stale at times. The story remains as captivating as it was from the start, especially due to the possibility that the Avery family’s allegations could prove to be true at some point in the near future, but the presentation sometimes brings everything to an irritating standstill.

The first few minutes of the first episode of the season, for example, is a montage of news outlets reporting on the release and impact of the first season of Making a Murderer after it premiered on Netflix back in 2015. This portion of the episode is mundane and almost seems braggadocious in its self-examination of the show’s previous success and notoriety, even though it does include a few clips that call out the show for having an agenda and leaving out key details that made Avery seem far guiltier than the documentary originally made him appear to be. Despite this moderate sense of self-awareness, the sequence still comes off as the show giving itself a pat on the back for being so popular, and that pretentious approach to the documentarian work may be quite off-putting to certain viewers.

This assortment of clips goes on for far too long, and it is especially boring to watch for anyone who has watched the Netflix mockumentary American Vandal, which satirizes this exact kind of sequence in a much more engaging fashion than the serious version of the same thing. Any person who watches this season after seeing American Vandal might find the opening portion of Episode 1 irritating because not only did a mockumentary rightfully make fun of that kind of self-centered documentary cliché, but it did a better job while mocking serious documentaries than the real documentary did while trying to be serious.

There are still some positive aspects of the show, though, as it still has the documentary formula down to a science. While the consistent format can be monotonous at times, it is still the best way for Making a Murderer to properly convey as much information as possible. Some of the subjects discussed in the early portion of this season were very well analyzed, with some even being laid out piece-by-piece for the viewers so they could truly grasp the scale of the events that  happened, or that supposedly happened.

For example, a very significant portion of the second episode is dedicated to the possibility that the interrogators who talked to Brendan Dassey purposely led him into giving a false confession by making him think that they already had enough evidence to lock him up, when they actually had nothing on him whatsoever. Instead of simply giving a surface-level description of the situation, the show provides clips of a small portion of a lecture about the science of interrogations, describes how these officers would have known that the confession was fake if it truly was, and also explains how they could have possibly led Dassey toward confessing to helping with Avery with murder that he did not commit.

Making a Murderer has been the class of the documentary world ever since its release in 2015, and for good reason. It has its formula, it conveys the information that needs to be told, and despite a bit of self-congratulating toward the start of the season, it gets right down to business telling the story it set out to tell. This documentary series is captivating and disturbing, and is a must-watch for anybody who loves a good conspiracy theory.

Featured Image by Netflix

October 24, 2018