'Defending Jacob' Episode 8: Why the massive plot twist in series works better than the book ending?
Spoilers for 'Defending Jacob' Episode 8: 'After'
This week marks the end of 'Defending Jacob' as it is all set to air a gripping finale. Starring Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery and Jaeden Martell, the drama is based on William Landay's novel of the same name. The only question that remains and has been doing the rounds is: "Will the TV series provide the same ending as the book did? From previous interviews, producers of the show have said the book can be read and it still wouldn't spoil the eight-episode series.
The finale, titled 'After' deals with the aftermath of the murder case fiasco that puts Jacob Barber (Martell) in the national spotlight. While he is eventually proved innocent, another murder during the Barber family vacation to the Caribbean sends a dangerous alarm to Laurie Barber (Dockery) that Jacob might indeed be the murderer. Adding to this is the fact that Andy (Evans) confesses that Leonard Patz (Daniel Henshall) was actually killed and the suicide was a clever frame created and orchestrated by his father through one of his henchmen.
This leads to a rift between Laurie and Andy. One rainy morning, she takes Jacob in the car and while on their way asks him if he committed the murder while dangerously accelerating in the heavy rain. When Jacob tries convincing her to slow down, she deliberately swerves, goes off the road and slams into a wall so as to effectively kill Jacob. Up to this point, the TV series follows the same pattern as the book which in the aftermath says Jacob was killed in the accident.
Andy is asked to testify in front of a grand jury to determine if Laurie's intention was to kill Jacob. The series differs here from the fact that both Laurie and Jacob are alive after the accident. Andy, after being indicted despite a stern grilling from Neal Logiudice (Pablo Schreiber) comes through and he heads to the hospital. He greets Jacob who is still shown to be in a critical state and then moves on to Laurie who is alive and is in a much better state than Jacob.
Perhaps, one of the reasons why 'After' deviated from the book ending was to not make 'Defending Jacob' anymore tragic than it already was. Normalcy was a term missing in the Barber family and hopefully, this accident brings them more closer. By the end of the episode, there is a sense of hope that things would be fine. Even if the closing moments was about a contemplative Andy eating his takeout alone back home. 'After' also brings with it a sigh of relief. After all the ordeal, death would have just multiplied the tragic factor.
The other probable reason could be the series trying out something different. It is safe to say the book would have received more reads after the series premiere and fans would have skipped to the ending just to see how things pan out for the Barbers. This may have been a conscious decision by the showrunner and the producers to induce a twist. With Jacob's recovery termed "optimistic", they bring in a welcome change and leave it to the fans to hope things get better for the Barbers.
'Defending Jacob' ends differently from the book and for good reason. It is still an open end of sorts that leaves the floor open to debate. Will Jacob accept his mother again after her attempt to kill him? Will Andy be the binding force? Will Laurie do something drastic post this traumatic event? The final message is hope and forgiveness and as for the murders, was Jacob really capable of killing?
'Defending Jacob' is available for streaming on AppleTV+.