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Dirty John - The Twelfth of Never - Review

This episode of Dirty John focuses almost solely in the courtroom and centers around the end of Betty and Dan’s divorce. While this episode features zero physical violence from either party, Betty and Dan are still entirely too unsettling for me, and this week, even Linda decides to throw her hat into the ring.

While this episode may appear slower, a relaxing stream compared to the tumultuous rapids this season has been, I’d think of it rather as a calm before the storm. Betty is mostly composed in the courtroom -- channeling all of her anger inwards instead of out, never really having an outburst at Dan, which, to me, was kind of shocking.

Betty has never hidden the fact that she’s got a temper. Here, though, she’s highly reserved. She’s put together and pinned up, asking the judge for advice when she needs it since she’s representing herself, and sharing self-deprecating smiles with her husband’s lawyer when she makes a mistake she didn’t realize she was making.

Even when she’s taking Linda’s pictures at her daughter’s graduation (which, man, they really just didn’t have limits on graduation tickets in the ‘80s huh?) Betty is somewhat calm. It’s not a serene calm, no, but a methodical calm. She’s definitely not stable, but she’s also not about to burst or anything.

Here’s my take: we have no idea what actually happened in that courtroom. Since Dan convinced the judge to have it closed to the press and public, we don’t actually know anything that was said in the room apart from the figures we can take that Betty was granted by the judge. I think the writers and Amanda Peet saw an opportunity to take Betty and make her their own, and I think they did a fantastic job.

The directing in this episode definitely wasn’t my favorite. It was sometimes jumpy, and the shots felt disconnected from the series as a whole, which I guess may have been purposeful given that this episode was a huge turning point for both Betty and Dan, but I wanted to mention it regardless.

At the beginning of the episode, we see Betty receive a letter containing a newspaper clipping announcing Dan and Linda’s engagement, and on it, in large red marker, is “eat your heart out, b*tch!” At first, Betty is furious and confused, because she assumes it’s from Linda, except, as her friends point out, Linda doesn’t act like this. She’s not aggressive. She’s not petty and impulsive and she doesn’t send things in the mail like this to Betty to antagonize her.

At the end of the episode, when it’s revealed that Betty only received the clipping, and she herself, with her own red marker, wrote the phrase on top of the clipping and pinned it to her fridge? Guys! What an incredible reveal. I loved that you could see that Betty was upset with herself, confused as to why she would even do that. To me, it’s a good callback to a few episodes ago, when the court psychiatrist talked about how everything about your life comes into question when you are so deep into a relationship that sometimes relies solely on gaslighting and manipulation. Betty is losing herself, and now -- even if she chooses to do nothing with it -- she’s been made aware of it.

Linda isn’t shy of the pettiness, though. She’s an incredibly flat character, all things considered, but this is called the Betty Broderick Story. While, yes, Linda married Dan, Betty purposefully centered Linda’s entire existence in her own life around making sure she never cared about her enough to even name her. She called her Linda for the first time this episode! And she still put ‘wh*re’ in the middle of it!

Betty decides to contact Linda and Dan and ask for her wedding china back. She describes it over the answering machine and says she wants it back and she even has friends talk to Linda about it and Linda, dare I say, queen Linda, is pretty much like, “uh, this woman is trying to ruin my life, she breaks into my house every other week, threatens my fiancĂ© and future stepchildren, threatens me on the daily, and you want me to extend an olive branch to her? You want me to be the one to do that? HA! I think maybe I’ll smash them instead.” We never see her smashing the china, but she says she might do that and it honestly made me respect Linda more, finally. 

Then, of course, Betty’s talking to a friend about how she’s getting a new job and she’s going to be happy, she’s going to get her kids back, she’s going to get a fantastic settlement and whatnot, and her friend decides to let her know there are rumors going around about her being a child molester. Sorry, WHAT? I’m sorry, Dan started what rumors?! This was such a weirdly specific detail to add into the show since I can’t find any evidence of it actually happening, but, uh, HUH? Dan apparently spreads the rumor so Betty can’t work at the preschool she just got hired at, but that seems drastic. Yikes. I can't stand Dan.

In the end, Betty has to pay Dan $787,063.00 in Epstein Credits, she gets a settlement of $28, 606.02, and Betty gets every other holiday and alternating weekends with her minor kids. To be clear, now, in 2020, the Epstein Credits would be around $1.6M, and her settlement would be about $60,000.00. However, in the end, Betty still doesn’t think this is enough since this episode closes out with Betty in a gunshop, buying a gun, the scene intensely blurred around her.

Amanda Peet was absolutely spectacular in this episode. We’ve seen that she can do unsettled, off the rails Betty well, but calm, collected, devastated Betty? Wow. The entire scene near the end of the episode in the courtroom -- from the time where Betty stands up to read her closing statement to the end of the scene where the lights turn off and Betty sits down in the seat and just silently cries -- was the best scene of the entire series for me. Watching Betty crumple in on herself, watching Peet completely embody Betty, and letting her face twitch a certain way to indicate that she’s holding back tears, or shaking her hands out to try and hold them off? God, it was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Dirty John is truly being looked over this season as a whole and it’s tragic.

Welcome toooo Dirty John: Dirty or Clean? Where I take events that happened in the episode and I tell you whether they really happened or whether they were added into the fictionalization!

Wishy-Washy: Betty says she received many things in the mail from Linda Kolkena that were aggressively rude and hateful, but nothing was ever fully confirmed. Nothing was also confirmed to be from Betty herself, either, though I’d love that little twist.
Clean: Betty did ask for her wedding china back and Linda refused to give it to her.
Clean: The courts were closed for the sake of the children, and Betty represented herself.
Wishy-Washy: As stated above, since the doors were closed, we have no idea what was actually said in there, so anything really could’ve been said and all of this is just speculation.
Dirty: I couldn’t find any evidence that Dan or Linda spread rumors that Betty was a child molester, to prevent her from receiving a job or otherwise, so that’s extremely unclear.
Wishy-Washy But I’ll Let It Slide: Betty actually bought the gun after a divorce hearing had been called with “no proper warning” as she claims.

I have two favorite quotes from this episode because they both made me actually, truly gasp out loud, and I haven’t stopped thinking about them since I watched this episode.

This first one comes from a scene where Dan’s lawyer, Walter Mills (George Newbern - Scandal), is questioning Dan on the stand:

Mills: How would you describe the support that Mrs. Broderick provided you when you began your legal career?
Dan: Nonexistent. 

Uh, I beg your pardon? Was Betty not the one typing all of your legal briefs? Did Betty not stay home and feed the baby and go through a miscarriage nearly alone so you could go hang out with your lawyer buddies to up your legal career? Was Betty not taking odd jobs up until the day she gave birth to help support you at the beginning of your legal career? Just making sure we’re talking about the same Mrs. Broderick here.

My second favorite quote comes from Dan also on the stand, except here, Betty is questioning him. These quotes are honestly just here so I can talk about how much I despise the Christian Slater version of Dan Broderick. (Not that the real Dan Broderick was very stellar.)
Betty: When was the moment this divorce really started?
Dan: April 12th, 1969. 

As Dan reveals to the court, this is the date Betty and Dan got married. I’m not sure if he said this because he really meant it, or because he really hates Betty this much, and he really thinks their entire time together was that terrible, but man, what a horrible thing to say. Part of me wants to say that he only said it to trip her up, to make her stumble even more because she’s not an actual lawyer, and he knows that and he’s trying to throw her off her game, but goodness, can you imagine your husband looking you in the eye and telling you your marriage was over the day it began? Dan Broderick was a cruel, mean, despicable man.

What did you guys think of the episode? What were your favorite scenes? Are you excited to see this all finally blow up soon? How many people can I get with me for a virtual protest if this show gets zero nominations at the Emmys this year? (Just kidding. Maybe.) Let me know what you guys thought in the comments!

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