Previously, on HBO MAX’s Love & Death, the trial had started. In the seventh episode, “Sssssh,” which was the finale, Candy (Elizabeth Olsen) has to go on the stand as a witness for herself. She has been having trouble with her emotions because she has been taking a prescription for a nerve relaxer, called Serax. The opening scene shows Candy’s lawyer, Don Crowder (Tom Pelphrey), asking Candy if she’s ready, to which she says yes. As they walk towards the courtroom doors, Rod Stewart’s song, “Maggie May” starts to play, fading out as the doors open and all eyes are on Candy as she starts walking to her seat.
Don starts to ask questions about the day that Betty was killed, June 13th. She tells the court that she had gone over to the Gore’s house to get Betty’s (Lily Rabe) and Allan’s (Jesse Plemmons) daughter’s bathing suit since she was going to be staying at Candy’s and her husband Pat’s (Patrick Fugit) house. Candy starts to explain what all happened during her time at the house.
Don asks Candy if she was in fear for her life when she saw Betty bring an axe inside. Candy’s answer was no, because she “never dreamed that she’d use it,” on her. As Candy explains everything, the scenes start to show when it all took place, giving the audience both a review and a more in-depth detail on what went down that day with the axe. Candy was defending herself. She didn’t think that Betty would physically harm her, especially with an axe. Candy tells Don that in the moment when she was pushed against the washer machine by Betty, she still didn’t think that she’d hurt her.
Candy’s belief changed and this is what she said, “When she swung the axe up… and it hit me in the side of my head.” That was when she knew Betty wanted to kill her. As Betty and Candy are fighting for the axe, Candy gets her hold on it. Betty decides to bite her hand, making Candy scream and loosen her grip. Candy then swung at Betty when she fell to the ground, which resulted in Candy thinking she had killed her, but she didn’t, not yet anyway. Candy tries to leave, but Betty doesn’t let her. She gets up and viewers can see the blood on Betty, on the back of her shirt. Candy also was starting to bleed on her forehead.
Candy keeps telling Betty, “I don’t want him,” and there’s a scene where she tells her that as she pushes her to the ground. An ear ringing sound comes through and Betty puts her hand behind her head as she collides into the wall. She tells Candy to be quiet and she comes to her as Candy continues to plead and begs her to stop. Candy screams and gains as much strength as possible, grabbing the axe and swinging it, aiming at Betty’s head. As she gets her head with the axe, she continues, swing after swing. This scene was very brutal and hard to watch. Candy doesn’t stop, she just keeps on striking her with the axe.
Once Candy is done, she gasps out of shock and horror. She notices the blood splattered all over herself and all over the utility room. She had tears in her eyes, with the look of fear written on her face. She walks to the bathroom, going in the shower with all of her clothes on, trying to get all the blood off of her. She tells Don in the courtroom that she wished she could have taken it back. She was scared, but she knew she had to act normal.
One piece of evidence that was found was a lens to Candy’s pair of sunglasses, which was found in the Gore’s garage. Candy states she had never been in the garage before, but the attorney for Betty and Allan, Tom O’Connell (Mackenzie Astin) gives her a very hard time with the fact that she had lied before and that she could have possibly been in the garage to get the axe.
After the day of the trial, Candy is at home, putting dishes away. As she does so, she gets a view of her mother’s spirit, telling her she needs to defend herself. A knife appears on the counter and Candy is confused. As she looks at her hands, they’re bloody. She gasps and wakes up, it was a nightmare. The doorbell rang, and it was Don. He tells Pat that he’s going to be next on the stand as a witness.
The next day is when the trial starts back, with Pat being on the stand. Pat tells the court that he forgave Candy for her affair with Allan and that he was grateful that Candy wasn’t the one who was killed. Dr. Fred Fason (Brian d’Arcy James) is next on the stand. He was the doctor who had helped Candy with her PTSD and traumatic experiences from childhood and the day of the murder. Dr. Fason is a very important witness in this case because he understands Candy’s thought process and he’s able to explain things from both, a physical and mental view.
The next set of witnesses are people from the church. They all testify that Betty wasn’t the nicest person. The pastor, Ron Adams (Keir Gilchrist), said that Betty was rude to him. He also said that Candy wasn’t the nicest when he first started at the church, but she was cordial, ending up being nice towards him. Judge Tom Ryan (Bruce McGill) decides that the trial should be finished for the day and as soon as it ends, Don goes straight to jail because of something he did right at the start of the trial.
Don Crowder’s closing statement to the witness was very powerful. Even though this was the first criminal case he had ever done, he did well. Sure, he did have some bad habits and he tried to publicize this case at the beginning, but he knew what to do. He was smart and knew what to say and how to say it. The final verdict was that the jury found the defendant (Candy) not guilty.
This series was shocking and filled with so much action and drama. Seeing as how this is a true crime series, it was very powerful and each episode after the other just kept on answering more and more questions about the truth and the events that lead up to both the murder and the trial.