The most important scene in Defending Jacob
Updated: Jul 31
Spanning over eight episodes, the Apple TV+ series boasts outstanding scene after outstanding scene - so why is the most important scene of Defending Jacob less than a minute and dialogue free?
Before we get there, we need context.
The scene only works because of what has come before. The developing of the characters and the twist and turns of the plot.
The scene involves Laurie, mother of Jacob. She starts the series with a picture perfect life, great husband, great Son and great job.
But once Jacob is charged with murder, Laurie's world implodes. She becomes withdrawn, and refuses to accept the reality of the situation. Hanging on to her old life, Laurie returns to work too early. The other employees feel uncomfortable and Laurie is forced to continue her sick leave.
When Laurie receives a reminder for a work event, which she spent weeks planning, she decides to attend.
This is the most important scene in the series.
Laurie drives to the event, parks opposite the entry and watches. Her face filled with angst and pain as friends and colleagues enter. In this moment, Laurie stands outside her previous life, watching and knowing she is no longer part of it.
Laurie accepts she is no longer from that world. Everything she knew, everything she wanted, is gone. Laurie will descend into a spiral of doubt and confusion and eventually arriving at series climax.
Storytellers can learn so much from this scene. Showing your audience the moment where your character realises their life is forever changed, will deliver a powerful punch.