The Staircase (2022) season 1, episode 5 recap – “Screamer”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: May 19, 2022 (Last updated: February 17, 2024)
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HBO Max series The Staircase (2022) season 1, episode 5 - Screamer


Aside from the last 15 minutes, the fifth episode of The Staircase is a snoozer.

This recap of the HBO Max series The Staircase (2022) season 1, episode 5, “Screamer,” contains spoilers.

Read the recap of the previous episode.

The Staircase (2022) season 1, episode 5 recap

Michael’s struggles in prison begin due to the fact that he got the last remaining single cell, because of his celebrity status nonetheless, and he gets “jacked up”. Sophie continues to write him letters from France whilst his family tries to move on with their lives. 

In a flashback to before Kathleen died, an angry and obnoxious side emerges from Michael as he belittles Sophie over her low grades. And as a result, he says that he will pay for her flight to return home for Thanksgiving. Cutting back to the timeline where Michael is imprisoned, he writes to Sophie and reveals he has an appeal in three months. So, he wants Sophie, a successful and educated woman, to tell his side of the story whilst also questioning why she continues to write to him.

As Sophie speculates about whether some of Kathleen’s injuries from her fall in the pool could have led to her death, Michael’s house goes up for sale. His sons, Todd and Clayton, visit Michael in prison and say that due to Kathleen’s death happening inside of the house, it’s more than likely that the house will go for way less than the asking price. This is a major concern for Michael. As that may mean that he will be broke when he eventually leaves prison. When the making of the documentary starts to take its toll on Sophie, she decides to spend some time away from Michael. As for Michael, when he learns that there is money in his account, he argues with one of the prison workers.

The ending

In the first truly intriguing moment of the episode, Todd wakes up in a blood-filled bed. After an initial panic where Todd fears the blood belongs to a girl he may have hooked up with, Todd realizes that the blood is his. He soon learns that he banged his head. As for the girl, she is fine, except for a hangover, that is. Clayton visits Michael in prison and tells him that Becky is pregnant.

In a flashback that follows on from Michael’s argument with Margaret, Kathleen learns, just before heading out for dinner, that Margaret will not be coming over for Thanksgiving. Cutting back to nearly a year after Michael’s trial, he learns from fellow inmates that he has lost his appeal. But he discovers from David that as the vote was split, he will go to the state supreme court, which may actually work in Michael’s favour. As the documentary process moves to the next stage, it gains rave reviews. Some even call it a masterpiece. After Sophie sends it to Margaret, Sophie visits Michael in prison. Upon first meeting, Sophie is close to tears.

What did you think of the HBO Max series The Staircase (2022) season 1, episode 5? Comment below.

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