Defending Jacob season 1, episode 8 recap – the finale explained

By Daniel Hart
Published: May 29, 2020 (Last updated: February 6, 2024)
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Apple TV+ series Defending Jacob season 1, episode 8 - After - the finale


Defending Jacob episode 8, “After”, the finale, is a thrilling ending to the story — providing the ultimate answers but also leaving one crumb behind to leave the audience wondering for one more truth.

This recap of Apple TV+ series Defending Jacob season 1, episode 8, “After”, the finale, contains significant spoilers.

How does Defending Jacob season 1, episode 8, “After”, the finale, open?

The main advantages of not reading the original source material are that every aspect of the finale of Defending Jacob was unknown. The finale opens with Joanna ringing Andy. He wakes his wife Laurie and tells her it is over; Leonard Patz hung himself and left a confession — Joanna is moving for a dismissal first thing in the morning. They head to Jacob’s room and tell him what happened.

The judge dismisses the case and tells Jacob Barber he is a free man. Joanna tells the press that they are thrilled with the outcome. Ben’s father Dan Rifkin approaches Jacob and tells him that he knows he killed his son. An old friend of Andy’s father protects Jacob — he’s been following the family all this time in the Old Lincoln car. Everything looks to be over in Defending Jacob season 1, episode 8, “After”, but nothing is that simple.

The grand jury returns

The finale goes back to the grand jury — Andy says there was no “normal” after the case, there was a “before and after”. In the core storyline, Laurie feels guilty for feeling like she was sure about Jacob killing Ben. Andy tries reassuring her, stating she was under a tonne of stress. The family agrees to go on holiday to Mexico. The State Attorney Lynne and Andy have a discussion; she thanks him for his professionalism during hard times and wonders if he could stay — Andy says he cannot do it anymore, not after being on the other side, and he asks her to keep Neal: “He’s a good lawyer”. The State Attorney explains that the Patz case is closed and wrapped up after they had to go over a few details that did not add up. This clearly irks Andy.

Hello father

Andy meets his father Billy in prison and asks him for truth. Andy read the police report for Patz — he believes his father is linked to the confession. The police report says that an Old Lincoln car with no plates was outside Patz’s house that night. A flashback shows that Billy’s man forced Patz to write the confession and then he strangled him with a rope. Billy refuses to admit that he knows anything but says “whatever happened was for the best — do you want to throw him back to the wolves?” He tells Andy to be a good father. Billy states it’s been good to get to know his son and he knows it will probably be the end of their relationship but Jacob is free to “come and see his grandpa”. Defending Jacob season 1, episode 8, “After” offers a thrilling twist to all this.

Andy tries to forget

Strangely, all series, Laurie has been the one trying to remove her feelings surrounding the murder while Andy has remained supported and on-track but the Defending Jacob finale switches roles. Andy tells Laurie that he is ready to move — she tells him when they return home they can put the house on the market. Laurie tells Andy she wished he told her his willingness to move sooner: “No more secrets”. The family head to Mexico for a holiday and Andy describes it as paradise but he does seem to be drinking a lot. Jacob meets a girl called Hope at the resort and Laurie is happy that he’s getting to know her. On the holiday, the guilt is getting to Andy.

New Year’s Eve

Back to the grand jury and Neal asks about Jacob and Hope — apparently, he confided in her and became a little celebrity. Neal asks about New Year’s Eve. In Mexico on New Year’s Eve, Jacob wants to go to a party on the beach. When Andy and Laurie return to the hotel room, Jacob seems despondent, watching the news. They asked where his white shirt is but he said he changed and left Hope at the party. The next morning the police come to the hotel and want to question Jacob. Hope didn’t return home from the party. At the grand jury, Neal asks when did Jacob last see Hope — Andy said he believed him but the police thought he was lying and the family wasn’t allowed to leave the hotel.

Laurie learns the truth

In Mexico, in the middle of the night, Laurie finds Andy very drunk outside. Andy tells Laurie that Leonard Patz didn’t kill himself, it was his father that killed him with one of his men. Laurie suddenly realizes what it means — Jacob is not innocent. Andy says nobody knows, not yet. The next day, Hope is found — a teenage boy slipped something in her drink at a party and took her back to his place. Neal asks Andy at the grand jury if Laurie was relieved as well — they left their holiday three days early. Defending Jacob season 1, episode 8, “After” shows the complexities of feelings that the parents are facing in the finale.

Laurie doesn’t want to talk about what happened and the trial starts haunting her again. Neal suggests that something changed in Mexico with Laurie — he asks Andy what were they running from and why isn’t his wife here today. In the core story, Laurie tells Andy that she has to “run some errands”. Jacob asks Andy what is wrong with his mother as she seems quiet.

The guilt consumes Laurie again

Laurie heads to the Rifkin household and sees Ben’s mother crying on the floor while trying to grab a drink which she drops, blood dripping from her hands from cut glass. She finally returns home and Andy offers to take Jacob for his haircut and he raises that they are worried about her — “It’s like living with a ghost”. Andy raises how Laurie looks at Jacob and that he wants to figure out a way to move on.

Laurie takes Jacob to the hairdressers the next day and she tells him that she never asked Jacob directly when it “all started” last year but Jacob does not seem to be listening and he’s consumed by his smartphone. Back at home, Andy notices that Laurie has put Jacob’s baby photo album in the bin. In the car, Laurie asks Jacob if he killed Ben while speeding down the roads, repeatedly asking for the truth. Ben tells Laurie that she’s driving too fast and then Laurie purposefully crashes the car. The Defending Jacob finale evidently shows how Laurie loved her family but could not live with the guilt and wanted to die with Jacob.

Help us deliver justice

At the grand jury, Neal asks Andy again — “Why isn’t Laurie here?”. Neal then brings up the car accident and raises that there were no other cars involved. Andy states she was driving too fast in the rain and lost control. Neal makes another valid point, that Laurie also tried to get in touch with Dr. Vogel and lawyer Joanna before the crash — Neal tells Andy that the truth needs to come out. Neal then tries sympathizing — using another tactic in the courtroom, telling Andy is a victim but that they need the truth: “Help us deliver justice for Jacob, for you”. Andy repeats the same story refusing to reveal the truth.

How does Defending Jacob season 1, episode 8, “After”, the finale, end the story?

Andy heads to the hospital to see Jacob; he’s on a breathing machine and evidently unconscious. He then sees Laurie who is awake — he holds her hand. Andy says there is no indictment which means it will be classed as an accident. Laurie explains how she read to Jacob today and how the nurses are optimistic — she’s worried that when Jacob wakes up, he will think she caused the accident. Laurie can’t remember what happened that day and just wants her family back. Andy returns home and pours a drink and thinks to himself in darkness.

If we dissect the last three scenes, I believe there is a hint that Laurie has lost a good portion of her memory, which possibly goes all the way back to before Mexico. It’s possible that Laurie does not know about the story that Andy told her while on holiday. The grand jury scenes are also fascinating in the finale; it’s almost like Andy was on his last legs, trying to answer the remaining questions without exposing his family. In the last scene, he’s sat thinking in the dark and if you revert to the earlier episodes when he said “whatever it takes”, then this scene solidifies that statement. Andy was willing to do whatever it takes to protect his family and he succeeded.

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