Love & Death begins to morph into a legal drama as our understanding of Candy Montgomery becomes increasingly convoluted.
This recap of Love & Death Season 1 Episode 5, “The Arrest”, contains spoilers.
“The truth will set you free” is a biblical expression, from the Gospel of John in the New Testament. Jesus said it, as well he might. It’s ironic, then, that when Allan Gore tells the police the truth about his affair with Candy Montgomery, the proudly Godfearing man is read his rights on suspicion of murdering his wife.
The truth about their extramarital dalliances also lands Candy in hot water with the authorities, who assume, immediately, that she hacked Betty Gore to bits with a wood-splitting axe. She did, of course, but the police have little evidence to support that theory for now.
It isn’t said out loud, but it’s very much implied that being an adulterer is almost the same as being a murderer anyway. They’re right next to each other in the Ten Commandments, after all!
Love & Death Season 1 Episode 5 Recap
After the police make it very clear that Candy is under suspicion for Betty’s murder, she retains the services of Don, who at one point is forced to confess that despite the big game he likes to talk, he’s just a mild-mannered personal injury specialist.
This is a problem since Candy wants someone she trusts to represent her, and she trusts Don enough to confess that it was her who hacked Betty Gore up.
“The Arrest” is an oddly paced episode since it’s largely about everyone catching up to information that the audience has already been made privy to. Removing any sense of mystery adds so many layers to Elizabeth Olsen’s performance that I can totally understand why we’d do things this way, but it also raises other questions.
Why is Candy arrested?
For one thing, have we not been shown the murder to retain some degree of ambiguity around its exact circumstances? There’s a part of me that thinks we might have been better served by seeing Candy go postal, which would then add another tinge of horror to her public efforts at defending her innocence.
And those efforts become very public indeed in this episode, since as soon as the police begin to fancy Candy as a suspect, they start leaking information to the press, and soon everyone knows about it. She’s arrested almost as soon as she confesses to the affair with Allan.
Which raises another point. Candy is described as the most normal woman in town. She’s an active member of the church, has a great reputation, and no prior criminal record. She’s supposed to be the quintessential churchgoing Texan housewife. And yet the efforts to utterly condemn and shame her are intense and immediate. Why?
I think it’s the adultery thing. And I think the adultery thing is tied into the fact that it’s no accident Candy is played by Elizabeth Olsen, or that, in Candy, the Hulu version of the same story, she was played by Jessica Biel. It simply cannot be a coincidence that in every version of her story, Candy is played by a notably beautiful woman, especially since the real Candy Montgomery… let’s just say doesn’t look like Elizabeth Olsen or Jessica Biel.
I think the correlation between attractiveness, adultery, and being made a pariah are very intentional, is all I’m saying. Of course, a seductress who would tempt a married man would also hack his wife up. It’s a tale as old as time – that othering, exotification of beauty; the temptress, the femme fatale.
Or Candy was just nuts and Olsen is just a bankable star to front an HBO Max drama. But it’s something worth thinking about all the same.
Why does Don force Candy to see a psychiatrist?
Don is thinking along the same lines as me. He says, in response to the media coverage, “She’s becoming the scarlet woman, the axe-wielding hussy.” He advises Candy to lose some weight, adopt a more conservative hairstyle, and change her wardrobe. And he isn’t subtle or sensitive about it. Another of his ideas is to send Candy to a psychiatrist, since to defend her effectively he needs to know the full extent of what he’s dealing with.
In other words, he needs to know if Candy is insane.
This is good, though. Since Don is the only person privy to the truth of what Candy did, he becomes somewhat disconnected from the rest of the show, as she has been. He calls Ron and tells him that, since God must surely know Candy Montgomery isn’t capable of such a thing, then it’s the responsibility of a pastor to remind his congregation of the same. He’s leveraging piety as Candy’s defence.
At the psychiatrist’s office, things get exceptionally weird. Less a therapy session than guided hypnosis, Candy is led through a recollection of what happened in the utility room at Betty’s house.
Love & Death Season 1 Episode 5 Ending Explained
We’re still none the wiser, really. Candy chants that she hated Betty for ruining her life, but depicts, in her possessed state, a woman defending herself. Another memory, this one from childhood, shows another instance of repressed emotion overwhelming Candy. The psychiatrist deduces that she is not a sociopath, but simply snapped.
Crucially, at one point, Don bursts into the room and asks if she might be faking it. The psychiatrist assures him – and thus the audience – that she isn’t unless she’s also faking an ability to feel pain or the physiological responses to extreme cold.
In the final scene of the episode, Don calls Pat and tells him the truth about what happened, while Candy assures her kids that soon the trial will be over, she’ll be found innocent, and they’ll be a normal family again.
Pat’s reaction suggests it might not be quite that easy.
You can stream Love & Death Season 1 Episode 5, “The Arrest”, exclusively on HBO Max.