'Making a Murderer' Part 2 Finally Highlights the Stories of Women
Kathleen Zellner wants justice for Teresa Halbach.
When lawyer baes—Jerry Buting and Dean Strang—went on tour, my friend bought me tickets. We sat on the balcony, as Buting and Strang pontificated on justice, the legal system, and Steven Avery. And when the talk was over, that friend, writer Laura Tansley, said she felt uncomfortable with the fact that we’d spent two hours listening to two men talk about the wrongful imprisonment of two other men, without a cursory mention of the woman at the centre of the case—Teresa Halbach—and what had really happened to her.
Tansley’s ideas stuck with me ever since, the seemingly unsolved murder weighing just as heavy as those potentially fraudulent convictions. Which is why Making a Murderer Part 2, finally asks the right questions, including—but not limited to—if Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey didn’t kill Halbach, then who did? And the person behind these pretty pertinent questions? Avery’s kick-ass new lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, who has now dethroned the Season 1 lawyer baes whose names I just forgot.
Without spoiling the terrifying, emotionally jolting, completely devastating, and endlessly watchable second season, it needs pointing out that Zellner is the person making the new instalment so binge-worthy. As the first season was filmed over such a long period of time, it was always going to be a challenge to replicate that complicated, and intensive, story. But Zellner’s legal efforts are so comprehensive, it’s entirely possible that she won’t stop until whoever really murdered Halbach is brought to justice.
One of the most haunting points raised in Making a Murderer Part 2 is the fact that Halbach, most likely, left the Avery property after her appointment to photograph a car for Auto Trader. In fact, Zellner manages to retrace Halbach’s movements, from piecing together her cell phone records, and using the page from her day planner that ex-boyfriend, Ryan Hilegas, somehow, somewhat suspiciously, came into the possession of, despite it being in her car at the time of her death.
In fact, Zellner suggests that the former lawyer baes should’ve attempted to trace Halbach’s real journey, especially as they had access to some of the evidence which would’ve helped them to build that narrative. And—spoiler alert—scent dogs and cadaver dogs completely ignored Avery’s trailer when they arrived on his property. Instead, they took off in several directions, hitting on spots in the neighboring quarry and gravel pit, and in the exceedingly creepy deer camp just next door.
Using the scent dog tracks, Halbach’s mobile phone, and other locations identified by police (including a potential burial ground), Zellner’s explanation not only shows the police as having framed Steven, but it also points to two new suspects—Bobby Dassey, who is Brendan’s brother, and his step-dad, Scott Tadych.
Fans of the first season will remember Scott and Bobby acting a little sketchy, especially when taking the the stand. From contradicting previous interviews so as to implicate Avery, to their lack of firm alibis, neither looked good to begin with. And Zellner’s investigation brings to light several horrifying details—from Bobby Dassey accessing inappropriate (and illegal?) images of murdered, naked, and underage women, on the family computer, to Bobby and Scott’s hunting expertise, which seems to place the two men at several of the locations associated with Halbach’s murder.
It isn’t until towards the end of Season 2 that Zellner suggests her alternate theory, and both men are obviously enraged by it. And while Bobby attempts to clear his name by meeting with officers, his step-father shares his views about Avery’s new attorney on social media.
Tadych’s seeming overreaction to Zellner’s conjecture extends to a phone call his wife, Avery’s sister, makes. Speaking to Avery in prison, Barb Tadych suggests that she will kill herself if her brother’s lawyer doesn’t stop accusing her husband and son of murder. And in the background, Tadych can loudly be heard denouncing the accusations, swearing profusely, and suggesting that Zellner and Avery must be out of their minds to think he was involved. It feels like textbook guilt.
In many ways, Dassey’s situation looks all but hopeless right now. And while Zellner’s new evidence, and suspect suggestions, are positive for Avery’s case, any sort of justice for Halbach still seems a long way off. But finally, someone is asking the right questions, and wants to actually figure out what happened to the woman at the centre of the case.