Allen v Farrow episode 3 recap – a bitter custody battle

March 8, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
HBO, Weekly TV
4

Summary

A treasure trove of previously unreleased police and court materials adds chilling context to an episode that focuses on the bitter custody battle between Allen and Farrow.

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4

Summary

A treasure trove of previously unreleased police and court materials adds chilling context to an episode that focuses on the bitter custody battle between Allen and Farrow.

This recap of Allen v Farrow episode 3 contains spoilers.


The big selling point of the previous episode of HBO’s Allen v Farrow was a video, shot by Mia Farrow, of her 7-year-old daughter, Dylan, explaining that her father, Woody Allen, had inappropriately touched her in the attic of their Connecticut home. Having never been made public before, it was a big deal, and a chillingly believable indictment of Allen, who has always – and continues to – maintained his innocence in the widely-publicized claims of his abuse. But Allen v Farrow episode 3, which chronicles the fallout from that tape and the bitter custody battle that occurred in its aftermath, lifts the lid on a veritable treasure trove of police and court documents that have been similarly kept from public scrutiny – and cast Allen’s claims of innocence as not just falsehoods of an abuser but the smug protestations of a man for whom power and privilege were second-nature.

Consider the implications of the then state’s attorney Frank S. Maco intending to investigate the accusations “quietly”. Consider the spectacular confidence of Allen holding a news conference at the Plaza Hotel addressing the allegations directly; to openly admit to his love for his adopted daughter Soon-Yi, and to know that it’d do as a justification for Mia attempting to discredit him. Allen knew he had the media on his side. Mia’s comparative silence only helped – or so he thought.

This degree of public scrutiny probably accounts for why Dylan was “evaluated” an apparently excessive number of times to determine whether she was fit to testify during the trial. The frequency with which she was expected to recount details of her trauma could have quite easily accounted for what were perceived to be “inconsistencies” and a “difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality”, which Allen was also quick to publicize. The matter of whether notes about the evaluations were destroyed, and whether it was common practice to do so, is also raised in Allen v Farrow episode 3.

The theme of Allen’s power and public profile persists with Paul Williams, heading an investigation by New York City’s Child Welfare Administration, being told to relinquish control and subsequently fired for not shutting up about it; the fact he won against the city in court when he suggested information about the case had been suppressed should be telling. Williams believed Dylan, and so did social worker Jennifer Sawyer. The difference in treatment of those who sided with Allen and those who sided against him is clear to see. Emboldened by his public support, it’s no surprise that on August 13, 1992, he attempted to claim legal custody of Dylan, Moses, and Ronan Farrow.

One of the most chilling parts of Allen v Farrow episode 3 is a taped phone conversation between Mia and Allen, during which the former begs him to drop the case and the latter coldly refuses. Snippets of this conversation are played a few times and suggest a woman terrified at the prospect of losing her children to a man who would delight in taking them away from her. When Allen later loses the case, it’s one of the show’s few moments of catharsis. His addressing the media after the fact in an inexplicably blasé manner only supports, at least in my view, the judge’s determination that he was, in want of a better term, a creep. When experts analyze the much-talked-about video from the previous episode, concluding that Mia did not, as Allen claimed, coerce Dylan into claims of his molestation, there’s a welcome shift beginning to occur. Allen is beginning to lose control of a carefully-cultivated public image; to lose the respect of his admirers; to be unable to shape his own truth in the way he does his movie scripts. Those scripts, you’ll recall, were almost all about age-inappropriate relationships between older men and much younger women. In light of the trial, how could anyone continue to view him in the same way?

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