Making a Murderer: Part 2 explores Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey’s post-conviction journey, as Kathleen Zellner and Laura Nirider search for the truth.
Netflix did it again with another fiery documentary series that provokes rational thinking. Making a Murderer: Part 2 delivers a damning case study into the pitfalls of the American justice system, awakening the Twitter investigators to examine Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey’s alleged wrongful convictions. It’s easy to feel slightly overwhelmed when you begin Part 2. A wave of memories rushes back as it reminds the audience the many frustrating moments that made the original a binge-worthy session.
Making a Murderer: Part 2 makes an incision into the post-conviction process, bringing forth the present exoneration lawyers representing Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. The series reminds us of the impact its predecessor had on social media; how it spurred heated debates and snippets of evidence that were not used originally. I have been part of that conversation, especially on Twitter. What was most peculiar were the accusations that Making a Murderer: Part 1 left out key details, giving a hand to special prosecutor Ken Kratz – a man I have never trusted since he started a statement to the media saying, “sweaty Steven Avery”.
Making a Murderer: Part 2 presents life in Manitowoc County as much as the exoneration process itself. Everything feels slightly jaded with the respective families, like the repercussions from the Avery and Dassey trials have had a toll on their health. Making a Murderer is keen to show what an entirely different life you lead if you have a loved one shackled up in jail claiming innocence. It’s a life on pause which could be for eternity.
Putting aside the emotional angle, Making a Murderer: Part 2 puts Kathleen Zellner at the centre; the famous exoneration lawyer tasked to free Steven Avery. The series is primarily about her goal to free Avery, but at the same time, explore the evidence that has had doubters scratching their heads for the last 2 years. Rather than avoiding the key evidence that Ken Kratz hits home about, Kathleen Zellner takes it head-on, with a robust team of multi-skilled professionals to bring each scenario to life.
If anything, Making a Murderer: Part 2 only heats up the debate, forcing the doubters to become more defensive and the believers to hold a higher flaming torch. Kathleen Zellner’s expertise is freeing innocent people from jail, and it is quite obvious that she is using Making a Murderer as a tool to put pressure on the stubborn courts. The same goes for Brendan Dassey’s exoneration lawyer Laura Nirider, putting in front of the cameras the various seminars they have held to truly open up the wounds of that forced confession. As part 2 progresses, the Netflix documentary series really drives home the complications of the post-conviction process and how the judicial system is created to put up walls, not search for the truth.
The one problem that irks me when it comes to the phenomenon of Making a Murderer is does it help? Or is putting a famous murder case in the spotlight dangerous? This always runs through my mind, especially when there are people who are adamant that Steven Avery is guilty, which further enforces my thinking when Teresa Halbach’s family are infuriated by this docuseries.
On the other hand, if Steven Avery is not guilty of murder, which would in turn clear Brendan Dassey and vice versa, then the Netflix documentary series can only be a progressive voice to the professionals that run the justice system, highlighting the need to re-evaluate the process. Regardless of the outcome, unless there is another convicted suspect, how will we ever know the truth? This problem became apparent to me with The Staircase, where I initially felt novelist Michael Peterson was innocent but on reflection deemed the documentary series to be overly manipulative.
Hopefully, a line is drawn where this type of documentary series is not done often enough that it becomes exploitative and regresses the justice system. Luckily, Making a Murderer: Part 2 fulfils its role to find the truth, rather than actively forcing the agenda. We all know the creators of the Netflix series believe Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey to be innocent. Then again, who can blame them? Making a Murderer: Part 2 continues the most groundbreaking true crime series of our time and the new instalment highlights that we need more answers.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.