The Staircase (2022) season 1, episode 4 recap – “Common Sense”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: May 12, 2022 (Last updated: February 17, 2024)
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HBO Max series The Staircase (2022) season 1, episode 4 - Common Sense


With the show moving faster than possibly expected, the fourth episode concludes with the verdict being delivered to Michael. For true crime fans, it’s unlikely to be a surprise. However, the reactions from those close to the case are nothing but gut-wrenching.

This recap of the HBO Max series The Staircase (2022) season 1, episode 4, “Common Sense,” contains spoilers.

The Staircase (2022) season 1, episode 4 recap

In 2017, Sophie speaks about Michael as footage of the trial plays back. And during the trial, it’s not looking good for Michael. In the trial, the jury hears from an expert how the blood splatters can mean only one thing: murder. Watching the trial on TV, Clayton begins to freak out and, as a result, decides to visit the family.

And whilst for a time it looks good for Michael, that all changes when Elizabeth’s body gets exhumed. Although the autopsy gets performed by the same medical examiner who performed Kathleen’s autopsy, despite objections by the defense, Elizabeth’s cause of death is now listed as homicide. Even with that information, Michael does not get accused of Elizabeth’s murder. Instead, her death gets listed as a factor that Michael took inspiration from to fake Kathleen’s accidental death.

Martha freaks out after attending the courtroom, whilst Michael’s defense decides to “invite the jury in” as an open book. Meanwhile, after returning home, Clayton returns home and finds the blow poke. Although it proves not to be the murder weapon, Todd accuses Clayton of planting it. And afterward, it becomes clear to the family that Clayton’s past jail time may damage the case. As the family erupts into a huge argument, Patricia sends for Michael. Upon finding the family in a vicious feud, he says that Clayton will not testify during the trial. As Michael reveals that he did not perform CPR on Kathleen as he went into shock, an odd thing considering Michael’s past, the defense rests.

The ending

As the verdict is about to be revealed, a flashback to the night of Kathleen’s death shows the theory that after she found gay porn on his computer, she confronted him. And after Kathleen tells Michael that she will leave him, he attacks her in a rage on the staircase. Although he considers calling for help, he decides not to. And then, as the verdict reveals that Michael has been found guilty of Kathleen’s murder with no chance of parole, his daughters sob as Caitlin vomits in the toilet. The fourth episode then ends with Sophie, who, after following the story, promises that she will tell Michael’s story. The question, for now, remains as to who Sophie is? What her role will be? And how does she fit into Michael’s future?

What did you think of the HBO Max series The Staircase (2022) season 1, episode 4? Comment below.

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