Making a Murderer—Season 1

making a murderer season 1 poster netflix episode guide
8.5 Overall Score

Great look at an interesting case

Gets a little long at points, so focused on innocence that it doesn't seem to look at a potentially bigger picture


Did he or didn’t he?

Steven Avery was wronged by police.  Imprisoned for eighteen years for rape, Avery was cleared of the crime by DNA and evidence indicated that police ignored leads that could have set him free.  When a young woman named Teresa Halbach disappears after an encounter with Steven Avery, Steven Avery finds himself facing jail again for murder.  With questions of a police cover-up, Steven Avery and his attorneys find themselves fighting for Steven’s life.

Making a Murderer is a documentary series released on Netflix on December 18, 2015.  The series became cultural phenomenon and brought attention to the case.  The attention also led to a potential reopening of Steven Avery’s case along with criticism of the police and prosecutors.


Don’t get used to your freedom….

Since the release of Serial, case studies of intense crimes have been a big thing.  With both The Jinx and Making a Murderer, the power of a long-form documentary.  Shows like Dateline and 60 Minutes can devote resources but can’t always devote time…time in this case has its pluses and minuses.

The benefit of the long devotion is that you get a much more thorough look at the case.  It is still a condensed look, but it is more thorough.  Viewing wise, I felt that some of the trial stuff got a little long winded (though important) and some of episodes five through seven could have been cut down and condensed a little.  The show also could have benefited from a more concise timeline of the events (and occasional reminders when discrepencies popped up).


Back in court

Like most documentaries, the makers have an objective and that is important to keep in perspective.  The makers are proving the point that Steven Avery and his nephew are innocent of the crime and have been wrongly imprisoned.  Avery was framed by the police and Brendan was poorly represented and collateral damage of the targeting of Avery.  I think it is more gray than the documentary presents.

What goes against Steven Avery is that there is a lot of evidence (some of which wasn’t presented in the documentary).  There are questions of the amount of effort of framing Avery and how the framing occurred.  The police knew that the case would have high attention and there would be no room for mistakes…but there are tons of mistakes if that is the case.  It looks like a frame-up, and I think the amount of effort going into framing Avery would be difficult.


With this guy as D.A., you will always have to question trial results…

Avery also is his own enemy.  The documentary kind of glazes over an incident involving the killing of a cat and the threatening of a relative before the initial rape accusation that sent him away.  It also doesn’t look at some evidence that Avery was allegedly rather obsessed with Teresa who had been to his home before with the Auto Trader (he would request her to come…she had said she was uncomfortable with him).  He also was reported to have purchased shackles some time before Teresa’s disappearance and there was evidence of sweat (testing positive to Avery so separate from the blood) on the car where Brendan said it would be.  Plus, there is not much evidence on who really might have murdered Teresa Halbach.

Brendan also is a question.  It is sometimes difficult to lie, and sometimes it is even harder for people with learning disabilities.  Some of what Brendan says (despite how it was retrieved) feels like the truth at points.  I do go with the idea that he isn’t creative and inspired enough to create some of his story.  He also seems to at least know the concept between right and wrong and that hurts him because he acts like he’s guilt of something (what he’s guilty of is unknown).  He feels pretty coached by both sides at the trial.


Great defense guys

What goes toward the framing of Brendan and Steven is that the cops definitely had it out for Steven Avery.  They didn’t like him and they thought they had him.  If there was a question, they didn’t want him to get free.  They weren’t very good interrogators and you could see where they led Brendan into traps with the purpose of nabbing Steven.  It is also difficult to separate in minds of people that Steven Avery was cleared of the initial rape which seemed to filter into prosecutor’s arguments and judgments.

The blood is a big problem for the police.  It does appear Steven’s blood was tampered with and possibly taken from where it was being held.  That blood doesn’t bother me as much as the lack of blood at either crime scene (trailer or garage).  If Brendan’s story is true, there is no amount of cleaning that could have gotten rid of all evidence of Teresa in Steven’s trailer.  If the crime occurred in the garage, there should have been blood all over the place…and testing never indicated that.  Steven and Brendan don’t seem intelligent enough to cover up this part of the evidence (or plan ahead).


What’s next?

Though I enjoyed The Jinx more, Making a Murderer is also very good.  I think that the series a bit more problematic than The Jinx.  Despite everyone clamoring for a new trial for Steven Avery, I don’t think the show clearly shows he’s innocent.  There is definitely more to the case and Avery wasn’t treated fairly, but I don’t know that a deeper investigation would help clear Avery.  Now that the case is in the spotlight, we might find out.

Making a Murderer—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:


“Eighteen Years Lost”

1.1       Eighteen Years Lost Released:  12/18/15

Steven Avery has a troubled life.  A history of run-ins with the law led to multiple arrests and accusations.  When Steven is accused of a sexual assault, the evidence against Steven doesn’t add up.  Despite discrepancy, Steven went to jail for eighteen years before being released on September 11, 2003.  With a potential police cover-up surrounding Steven’s arrest, Steven Avery’s trials were far from over.


“Turning the Tables”

1.2       Turning the Tables Released:  12/18/15

Steven Avery tries to get his life back and faces court cases to receive compensation for the years of his life lost.  As the men get closer to getting Steven compensation, the disappearance of a photographer named Teresa Halbach could put Steven in the public eye again.


“Plight of the Accused”

1.3       Plight of the Accused Released:  12/18/15

Teresa Halbach is missing and presumed dead.  With all evidence pointing toward Steven Avery, Steven claims that it is a governmental set-up.  When his nephew comes forward with damning claims, Steven’s case could be destroyed before it even begins.



1.4       Indefensible Released:  12/18/15

Brendan’s confession about the murder of Teresa Halbach is facing inconsistencies that the prosecutors and police must iron out.  Steven worries about his chances at a fair trial as the national media begins to take hold of the story.  Steven’s girlfriend Jodi is pressured to leave Steven by her probation officer.  A shocking discovery in police evidence could change the defense’s approach.


“The Last Person to See Teresa Alive”

1.5       The Last Person to See Teresa Alive Released:  12/18/15

The trial of Steven Avery begins.  The prosecution begins to introduce dangerous evidence from one of Steven’s relatives while phone records of Teresa Halbach draw into question who was the last person who saw Teresa alive.


“Testing the Evidence”

1.6       Testing the Evidence Released:  12/18/15

The evidence found on Steven Avery’s property goes under the microscope of the court as problems with testing and discover are found.  Suspects are called and stories are examined.


“Framing Defense”

1.7       Framing Defense Released:  12/18/15

The bloodwork is back from FBI and the news isn’t good for Steven’s case.  As the trial begins to wrap-up, the sides begin to prepare for their closing arguments.


“The Great Burden”

1.8       The Great Burden Released:  12/18/15

The closing arguments are given and the case is given to the jury.  As Steven, his families, the attorneys, the police, and the press wait, the jury works to determine Steven’s fate.


“Lack of Humanity”

1.9       Lack of Humility Released:  12/18/15

Steven has been found guilty, but Brendan’s trial begins.  As the court looks at Brendan’s confession of what happened on the day that Teresa Halbach disappeared, Steven prepares to be sentenced for his crime.


“Fighting for Their Lives”

1.10     Fighting for Their Lives Released:  12/18/15

Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey have been sentenced to life for the murder of Teresa Halbach.  Steven and Brendan hope their names will be cleared in a possible appeal as the time and the years pass.

Related Links:

Making a Murderer—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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