America’s obsession with true crime narratives and documentaries has grown with streaming services. Podcasts like “Serial” can be consumed over a day or two. One of the biggest Netflix hits in the past few years was “Making a Murderer,” which released in 2015. The story of Steven Avery and Brandon Dassey’s supposed murder of Teresa Halbach. The story became a phenomenon, compiling 10 years of footage to tell a compelling narrative. Sadly, while “Making a Murder Part 2” does have some genuine high points, it struggles to craft an interesting narrative this time around. With the episode order too high, this season grinds to a halt, making it a slog and tedious story.
“Making a Murderer Part 2” focuses on the court cases facing Dassey and Avery. Dassey’s case jumped back into the national news when courts ruled in his favor. However, the fight continues for Dassey’s team as appeals work their way through the courts. Meanwhile, Avery gets a new post-conviction lawyer, Kathleen Zellner who pushes for new forensic evidence.
When we get Zellner and her team running forensic tests, this is often the most exciting part of the show. She and her legal team begin investigating other potential killers. This often lines up with fan theories from the end of the first season. With Zellner on board, these fan theories now have some strong circumstantial evidence to back them up.
However, Zellner becomes a huge problem. She throws around accusations and insults at the other lawyers around her, including Dassey’s attornies. Rather than positively show support, Zellner often lets the audience know that other lawyers don’t know their cases as well as she knows her cases. It’s an exercise in self-promotion, making you question her authenticity over and over again. Zellner works to convince viewers about other suspects. She vocalizes each accusation with equal confidence, which becomes problematic.
Teresa Halbach receives more respect this season. Zellner seems to legitimately be driven to find out who actually killed the poor girl, even if it could be Avery or Dassey. We get a more well-rounded view of how Halbach’s death affected her friends and family. Unfortunately, this only really occurs in the first few episodes, and this rather strong approach gets dropped as the season progresses. Unlike other features that are concerned with the victims and the effects of the violence on their lives, the Halbach family still does not get that respect.
The real problem comes from the expectation of having a ten episode season. This adds so much filler that it feels unfocused and winding for most of the run time. “Making a Murderer” worked the first time around because of the exhaustive research compiled over many years. This time, a lot of the case comes from talking heads and court decisions. For the layman, this will not be interesting. Even for those in the know, it will likely not be interesting. It’s a very slow and boring first few episodes. It also adds to the Zellner problem as she continues to sling mud at everyone around her. If the story of this season had cut to 6 hours, “Making a Murder” could be a focused portrait of the appeals process. Instead, we get a rambling show that feels like an information dump.
“Making a Murderer Part 2” suffers from the need to add more content to a story that has not resolved itself yet. There’s not much change, so this becomes a winding and unfocused rebuff of criticisms of the first season. This does not accomplish much and makes the audience wonder why it exists at all. Audiences may tune in for ten more hours of Netflix, but frankly, you might as well stay away. There’s nothing here you can’t find out from “Good Morning America.”