Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Season 1 Episode 7 Review: The Shillelagh

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This story is so gross.

That's the word I used describing the saga to a friend recently, and I can't shake it. It's just gross.

Getting sucked into the Broderick vs. Broderick affair is like sitting under a wet blanket. You can't breathe, and you just want someone to pull it away.

Casual Betty in Court - Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Season 1 Episode 7

Maybe that's how Betty felt as she suffered years of degradation from Dan both during and after their marriage. Maybe Dan would consider his marriage to Betty stifling.

As Dan so eloquently put at the beginning of Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Season 1 Episode 7, perception is everything.

Dan the Teacher - Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Season 1 Episode 7

His classroom discussion was easily my favorite thing from Dan since the premiere. As a whole, "The Shillelagh" finally gave Dan some substance that was worthy of interest.

California Civil Jury Instruction number 1701. An opinion may be considered a statement of facts if said opinion suggests that facts exist. When deciding this issue, you should decide whether the average listener will conclude from the language of the statement and its contents that the person was making a statement of fact. Here's a statement of fact. Very few people understand what I just said, including myself.

Dan

When you take his lesson out of the classroom, you realize how vulnerable Betty was to be up against someone with Dan's mind. He finished medical school and law school, so we know he was intelligent. And you don't climb to the top of the legal field without having an excellent grasp of human nature.

It's a disgusting game, the law, and one that requires a lot of mental manipulation. During his first marriage and later his divorce, Dan proved that he is one hell of a manipulator.

Two people can perceive a given event differently. If your perception of it doesn't line up with mine, whose perception of that event is true? Now, we're not talking about people who are clinically mentally compromised. Those individuals need medical and psychological treatment, not legal counsel.

Dan

What's amazing is that he failed to read the damage he'd done to his former wife. With all of his intelligence and his keen awareness of human behavior, Dan was also so conceited that he thought himself infallible.

Dead Dan - Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Season 1 Episode 7

His second wife tried to get him to understand that Betty was not the easy prey he believed her to be. It was Linda who suffered the most at Betty's hands once she got together with Dan.

There are those who consider truth universal. Those people are not trial lawyers. Or, scratch that. Those people are not successful trial lawyers. Successful trial lawyers are absolutely seekers of truth. They are seekers of it, but more important than that, they are the ones who define what truth is.

Dan

Did Linda deserve the antagonization? Absolutely.

She was running with a married man and tittering about it all over town. If she had fallen in love and kept it to herself, I might have given her a pass. But her behavior at the office was anything but discreet. She flaunted her affair at the expense of the working environment of others and Betty.

Still, Betty owned her inability to let go. She wasn't only manipulated; she was also as egotistical as Dan.

Betty Pouts in Court - Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Season 1 Episode 7

Betty had a particular life planned for herself, but Dan didn't play along as he was expected. Betty must have always sensed that he didn't love her enough for their relationship to last, or else she would not have bent so fully to his whims.

The humiliations I put up with, the stories I heard about myself. No Christmas, no birthdays with my kids. Everything I suffered, everything I didn't react to, I didn't stand up for, I didn't fight for. You know Alice Through the Looking Glass? You know that dark tunnel she fell down? That's you.

Betty

She was trying so hard to hold onto her marriage that Betty lost sight of herself. And when the marriage ended, she had no self left. So she tried hanging onto Dan for dear life, even when his back was entirely turned.

It reminds me of When Harry Met Sally. At one point in the movie, Sally is crying over losing her boyfriend after she hears he's moved on, is engaged, and has a child on the way. "Why didn't he want that with me," she wondered. "What's wrong with Me?"

Because nobody wants to believe they aren't enough for someone they loved, even if the writing was on the wall, especially if the writing was on the wall. Because then you are the loser and your ex the victor, and all you have to show for it is memories and lost time.

Someone Is Getting Married - Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Season 1 Episode 7

But I don't believe that Betty loved money more than anything. That's where Dan really got Betty wrong. Betty used expenses as a weapon against Dan during their marriage in the same way he used it against her during their divorce.

Dan: She's not going to kill the golden goose, Richard. She just isn't.
Richard: There's more to you than money, Danny boy.
Dan: Is there?
Richard: Probably. I mean, I assume. [they laugh]

Betty spent lavishly because she didn't get the love she wanted from her husband. Dan financially tied Betty's hands because she wouldn't let him go without a fight.

Betty wasn't going to recover from any of that even without Dan's additional layers of deception and mental gymnastics, but because he was as unwilling to let go of Betty, for whatever reason, as Betty was of him, he sealed his fate, and unfortunately, Linda's too.

I'd like to think that Dan's behavior was because he wanted Betty to have a good relationship with her kids and recognized his part in the failure of his marriage. Maybe a little bit of him regretted stringing Betty along for so long.

Betty Breaks - Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Season 1 Episode 7

But that's not the case. Any "humanity" that Dan showed on Betty's behalf was calculated. He needed evidence to humiliate her and keep her as far from him and the kids as possible.

Linda: You won't even look at it?
Dan: What's in it doesn't matter. What matters is you went into her house to get it. You broke into and entered her house.
Linda: But the door was unlocked!
Dan: Fine. The door was unlocked, so you trespassed. You trespassed and stole her property.
Linda: Like she has done to us so many times.
Dan: Exactly. That's what she does, not what we do. We do not do that.
Linda: [reading] I have nowhere to turn. I am desperate. If this is the way domestic disputes are settled in the courts, is there any wonder there are so many murders?
Dan: Just put it back where you found it.
Linda: What? How?
Dan: I don't care. Just do it.

Even his anger at Linda for breaking into Betty's house had nothing to do with them being bigger than Betty or preferring that Linda did not torture his ex more than he already had. Nope. He just wanted to use Betty's behavior against her in the court of law, and any interference from Linda might invalidate that play.

As I said, it's just gross.

By the time Betty snapped or just plain had enough and wanted to end Dan because he was too stupid to realize she'd do it, she had alienated everyone in her life.

Sense of Identity - Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story

Harping on every segment of Dan's life with Linda turned her friends away, and kept her daughters at arm's length. Betty even managed to make random bar patrons bristle with her obsession and anger over her fate.

Ironically, she continued that reasoning of saying everything on her mind at the most inappropriate time just after shooting Dan and Linda.

Surprisingly, her friends and family rallied even in the wake of Dan and Linda's deaths. They saw her madness and how she'd deteriorated in the wake of the divorce and Dan's new marriage.

They probably felt a little guilty for not adequately responding to her myriad cries for help. For what else was her unending discussion about her life than a cry for help?

Someone Is Getting Married - Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Season 1 Episode 7

Betty was sinking for years, and although her hand was reaching upward for a lifeline, she never got it.

I'd like to think that Betty and Janet had that little dance party during Dan and Linda's wedding as much as I wish she'd had more of it through the years. It was the only time Betty seemed free of the mental torture.

Maybe if more people had taken the time to connect with her on such a visceral level, she would have made a safe getaway from her old life and Dan and Linda would still be alive.

The Shillelagh Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (2 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Season 1 Episode 7 Quotes

Two people can perceive a given event differently. If your perception of it doesn't line up with mine, whose perception of that event is true? Now, we're not talking about people who are clinically mentally compromised. Those individuals need medical and psychological treatment, not legal counsel.

Dan

California Civil Jury Instruction number 1701. An opinion may be considered a statement of facts if said opinion suggests that facts exist. When deciding this issue, you should decide whether the average listener will conclude from the language of the statement and its contents that the person was making a statement of fact. Here's a statement of fact. Very few people understand what I just said, including myself.

Dan