In this week’s episode, Betty must deal with her life falling apart as she tries to keep her sanity.
I think marriage is one of the most difficult agreements one could ever undertake. To cherish, hold, and value a person for an alleged eternity. I can’t even commit to my own decision to eat bagels for breakfast. It’s hard. I don’t know if I could trust someone to the fullest extent.
Which is exactly where Betty Broderick finds herself in this episode: finding her trust utterly betrayed. By her lawyers. By her children.
In this ugly legal battle, it’s obvious that Dan holds all the cards. Betty has no representation, no rebuttal, and no ability to fight back against Dan’s legal prowess. It doesn’t help that she keeps leaving harassing phone calls feeding into Dan’s claims of psychological incompetence. Dan uses each aggressive emotional snap against him and Linda, as they are worthy of continually fining and sanctions on Betty. As a result, the money she’s owed by Daniel is now becoming money she’s no longer receiving. In fact, it’s become money owed to the courts. All because he’s a lawyer and knows how to work the system.
At this point, Betty has no kids, no money, and no life. She’s alone, and all she has is aggressively leaving voicemails again-and-again. Dan stopped talking to her ages ago, and so, with no way to reach him, she just leaves message-after-message on the machine. She has also destroyed her own house (paid for by Dan). It’s psychological terrorism, and Dan is winning.
Though, eventually, all is not loss and some of Betty’s old friends notice what he’s doing. They help Betty out by indirectly getting her a lawyer: Hilary Clark. A woman who specializes in cases like these. With her help, she’s able to retain some rights for Betty, along with getting her a psych evaluation, wanting to pivot the narrative that Betty is crazy. This, added on with a finally fair judge, who sees that Betty has had no minor infractions prior to this, allows visitation for her to see the kids. Yet, Dan keeps custody because of the incident where she left the kids as their former house (which is oddly considered abandonment).
A pyrrhic victory, we see Betty go insane, under house arrest and solitary confinement. Dan stops sending money, and she goes crazy. But still, Betty does this because she wants to be a mother — seeing as how her son caught lice from poor parenting — she has her doubts over Dan and Linda.
The episode highlights just how hard it is to see your kids, who are legally under the other partner’s custody, and how tooth-and-nail people have to fight just to spend time with them. Even if it’s just for a simple Easter holiday. Worse is that, when kids are involved in a divorce, it breaks the relationship. In this case, it’s Betty’s son asking and blaming all three parents (which is telling that he considers Linda his official parent now) for how bad things had gotten over the phone.
Even worse than this, Dan is recording that very same phone call Betty has with their son for evidence. Calculating that, eventually, Betty would snap, and keeping phone evidence will, unfortunately, weaponize Betty’s own son against her without his knowledge (which is still admissible in court as evidence despite the means of attainment so long as the intent is never officially proclaimed: i.e. Dan never admits he was using their son).
Of course Betty would mentally snap, given the gaslighting, silence, and stripping away all that she holds dear. Yet, the courts don’t see it that way.
Atop of all this, therapy seems to working: really getting to the underlying root of the problem. This is unacceptable to Betty so she dumps her therapist. She wants to stay angry at Dan for ruining her life. It’s a decision that haunts her as her actions inevitably lead her to serve jail time.
It’s an unfortunate serious of events, yet a classic case and point of why the law can be, in many cases, bullshit. Especially if you’re the ones whose job it is to spin the truth, as Dan Broderick’s was as a skilled lawyer.
Justice has ultimately failed Betty Broderick.
Tune in next week for more on USA.