Is 'Defending Jacob' a Limited Series That Warrants a Season 2?
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1 of Defending Jacob.]
Apple TV+ just concluded its first season of the limited drama series Defending Jacob with a seriously big and bold cliffhanger.
Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, and Jaeden Martell star in the crime drama as the Barbers, a family faced with the unimaginable when son Jacob (Martell) is accused of murdering his classmate Ben Rifkin (Liam Kilbreth). Throughout the twisty series based on William Landay's novel, the characters and the viewers are given reason to doubt Jacob's innocence.
Little things spark doubt in Jacob's own mother Laurie (Dockery) as she remembers moments from her son's childhood where he was prone to act violently. When she and husband Andy (Evans) learn that Andy's jailbird father Billy (J.K. Simmons) forced a sex offender into confessing to Ben's murder in a "suicide note" (before ultimately dying), Laurie's thrown over the edge.
In spite of Jacob's innocent verdict, Laurie continues to question whether her son is a cold-blooded killer. And when the Barbers go on vacation to escape their troubles, Jacob finds himself at the center of another investigation when a girl he'd been spending time with goes missing. Wracked with guilt and assuming their son guilty, Laurie and Andy are relieved when the girl is found safe.
Still, Laurie's doubts grow so deep that she takes the situation into her own hands, seeking answers via her own lie detector test which includes speeding down the road and pressing her son for answers. Jacob is terrified by his mothers reckless behavior in the moment and admits to killing Ben if it's what she wants to hear, hoping she'll slow the car. Whether Jacob's confession is real or not, fans will never know because Laurie drives herself and Jacob into a wall, injuring herself and leaving her son's life in the balance as he remains in a coma at the end of the season.
With so many big questions unanswered, we're wondering if Defending Jacob is a limited series that actually warrants a second season. The intention was that the show would tell its story over the course of a single season, and to an extent it did. And while Apple TV+ has no plans for Season 2, Defending Jacob wouldn't be the first limited series to extend beyond its initial plan if that did come to pass.
A prime example is HBO's Big Little Lies which featured an A-list cast, similar to Defending Jacob, that ultimately was ordered for a second season despite its classification. Season 1 of the show ended with the reveal of who murdered of Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgard), the abusive husband of Nicole Kidman's Celeste. The drama garnered such praise that the cast which included Reese Witherspoon, Kidman, Skarsgard, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz, Shailene Woodley, Adam Scott and more, that it came back for another round of storytelling.
Based on Liane Moriarty's novel, Big Little Lies branched out into exploring life after Perry which included the arrival of his mother Mary Louis (Meryl Streep). So, where did that story come from? Moriarty told TV Insider, "I basically wrote a 50,000-word novella and then [showrunner] David E. Kelley took it from there... I just handed it over in exactly the same way I handed over the book."
Unless William Landay provides showrunners of Defending Jacob with some new material, a second season seems unlikely. After all, some endings are better left ambiguous. In the case for leaving Defending Jacob as is, look no further than HBO's other limited series, Watchmen.
The drama from Damon Lindelof wasn't originally branded as a limited run, but after Lindelof revealed plans to steer clear of a second season, HBO changed Watchmen's classification in hopes of improving its awards chances. The show, which stars Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Hong Chau, and Louis Gossett Jr., ended with a cliffhanger as well. Just as King's character Angela is about to learn whether or not she's inherited Dr. Manhattan's powers, the screen cuts to black.
Sure, it leaves viewers wanting more, but the uncertain future is what makes the season so though provoking, which leads us to believe Defending Jacob should follow suit. While Big Little Lies was considered great, the show was slightly diminished by a less stellar second season, made noteworthy mostly for Streep's performance.
Defending Jacob ended with a crash, literally and figuratively and while our questions about Jacob's role in Ben Rifkin's murder remain, it leaves viewers thinking about the series long after they're through with all eight installments. Perhaps the concept that a seemingly perfect family's life could blow up in such a major way is meant to show viewers just how susceptible they could be to such a predicament themselves.
Only time will tell for sure if Defending Jacob will return someday. For now, we're fine to settle into thinking through the questions raised and perhaps do some investigating with a rewatch. Let us know what you think about whether Defending Jacob should return for a second season or not in the comments below.
Defending Jacob, Season 1, Streaming now, Apple TV+