Defending Jacob Ending, Explained

Apple TV+ From left, Chris Evans stars as Andy Barber, Michelle Dockery as Laurie Barber and Jaeden Martell as Jacob Barber in the miniseries "Defending Jacob," streaming on Apple TV+.

‘Defending Jacob’ is an Apple TV+ series that tells a slow-burn tale revolving around a couple’s attempt to prove their son’s innocence with regards to the murder of his classmate. The show is based on a novel of the same name by William Landay. The series consists of eight episodes. One of the most attractive features of the Apple TV+ series is certainly its stellar cast. Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery lead the cast while Jaeden Martell and Cherry Jones also play key roles. Set in a small town, the show has a rather atmospheric feel to it.

Defending Jacob Plot Summary:

Jacob’s classmate, Ben Rifkin, is found stabbed to death in a park. Due to the finding of Jacob’s fingerprints on Ben’s body and the discovery that Jacob used to carry a knife to school, he (Jacob) becomes the prime suspect. His father, Andy, and mother, Laurie, do everything in their power to prove his innocence. The case becomes more complicated when it is discovered that Andy’s father is a convicted murderer, serving his sentence in prison currently. The possibility of the “murder gene” is floated.

Upon the recommendation of Jacob’s lawyer, Andy and Laurie send Jacob to a genetic specialist, Dr. Vogel. Dr. Vogel concludes that Jacob does not have the “murder gene” as it is passed maternally but does show genetic traits of manipulation and violence. Laurie remembers an incident from Jacob’s childhood when Jacob had nearly hit another kid on the head with a bowling ball. Laurie starts to doubt Jacob’s innocence, causing a rift between her and Andy.

Another suspect in the case is Leonard Patz. While Jacob’s trial is going on, Patz commits suicide after confessing to have killed Ben in a letter. Jacob’s case is dismissed. However, Andy finds out that his father had arranged for Patz to be threatened into writing a confession and be killed. Laurie starts to believe that Jacob might have killed Ben after Andy tells her about his finding. She asks Jacob about it while they are in a car. She is disturbed and cannot seem to trust Jacob. The car crashes. Jacob is in a coma. Laurie, in the hospital, tells Andy that she wants her family back. Andy goes back home and drinks alone.

The Ending Explained:

The ending of ‘Defending Jacob’ might not prove to be completely satisfactory for viewers. In case you are wondering who killed Ben, we are sorry to disappoint you because there’s no evidence presented in the show as to whether Jacob is the killer or not. Even in the book — on which the show is based — leaves it open for interpretation. Though, the book does lean towards suggesting that Jacob might be the actual killer.

The final scene of the show sees Andy drinking alone in his house while ‘You Were a Kindness’ by The National plays in the background. The final scene signifies how the accusation against Jacob eventually made Andy alone. The end implants the impact of the disintegration of the Barber family in the viewers’ minds.

At first, the Barbers are shown attempting to fight the case as best as they can. Laurie and Andy are depicted to be going through a lot as they defend their son. The whole town starts to treat them differently, and they end up becoming outcasts. Laurie is even asked not to return to her job temporarily. The central premise of the show has been how the Barbers unite against all the odds. However, towards the end, the pressure gets to them. It ends up destroying their family, subverting the very central premise as a form of a slow-burn twist.

Perhaps, Andy starts to feel that it could be his fault. He had built his marriage on a lie by not telling Laurie about his father being in prison. After that is revealed, Laurie starts to think that Jacob might have murderous traits as well. That is what leads her to distrust her own son and crash the car. She herself does not know how to get her own family back. The ending connotes how the three Barbers end up isolating themselves because of the accusation. It shows the negative impact of wrongful accusations.

Lastly, it can also be presumed that Andy is thinking about Jacob. It appears as if he is sitting in Jacob’s room. Hence, he is possibly thinking about how his son’s life and teenage years got ruined because of the accusation.

Read More: Is Defending Jacob Based on a True Story?