Love and Death is impressively shrewd in picking a side while upholding a generally non-biased stance in the case of Betty Gore’s murder trial. What strikes me as the show’s primary predisposition is that Love and Death wanted to tell a version of the story where it made sense that the jury found her not guilty of the murder. In taking countless liberties to bring forward a sweet, charming Candy and also tweaking her post-trial trajectory, the show paints a murderer whose self-defense plea and the wildly ridiculous “ssssshh”-triggered 41 ax strikes actually come off convincing. There’s a lot that Love and Death has been holding back for the sake of injecting an already hair-raising murder trial in the finale with even more blood-soaked tension.
A Murderer’s Testimony
Proving Don’s fear wrong, Candy, on the stand, still under the influence of Serax, is surprisingly coherent in answering every question that is hurled her way. If there’s one thing that’s a major stepping stone to Candy eventually getting free, it’s the fact that she’s an unswerving rule follower. Being a marionette under Don’s control and trusting him with her very life is probably the smartest move she’s made. And when Don commands her to speak nothing but the entire truth, that’s what Candy does. The benefits of sitting before a jury that’s got their Hawkeyes on every little change in her expressions vastly outweigh the cons of knowing that she’s a murderer. The only fighting chance that Candy has of evading prison is by telling the truth and hoping that she can convince the jury that the murder was an act of self-defense. With the crowds swarming around the court with hateful placards and the newspapers ripping into her like bloodthirsty animals, Candy really has nothing to lose by detailing exactly how the murder went down in the Gores’ utility room. ‘Love and Death’ has refrained from exhibiting the scarring details of the ruthless murder just so that we can wait and eventually see it through Candy’s eyes. And now that the time is here, there are no bounds to the kind of ghastly details that we feast our eyes on.
A Supportive Spouse
If there was anything Don Crowder was ever wrong about, it was underestimating his skills and asking Candy to go to a more expensive criminal lawyer. Because the Don Crowder we see before us is the very epitome of a lawyer with a mind that is preoccupied with nothing but the steadfast drive to see his client declared innocent, there’s no distance that Don wouldn’t go to achieve what he wants. For the last few episodes of Love and Death, Don almost overshadowed the protagonist in charm as well as intrigue. It’s hard not to be fascinated by the man when he ambushes Candy with the murder weapon just to get the jury to see that she’s one of them, a person with emotions. Don’s next tactic comes from his unabashed understanding of how the people of Texas in the 1980s held infidelity as a far more deplorable crime than even murder. He knows that there’s just one person whose straightforward forgiveness has a shot at leaving a mark on the jury. So now, it’s time for Pat to take a stand and hold himself accountable for giving Candy no option but to cheat. And his words only communicate the sincerest remorse and love that he feels.
Why Was Candy Found Not Guilty?
What speaks to people, what tugs at their heartstrings, and especially what horrifies them are dynamic elements that change with changing variables. Bear in mind that the majority of the jury, if not all, belonged to the God-fearing, church-going Texan population. And there’s no chance that they’ll deny the words of God, especially when the words are coming from the pastor himself. Not being nice to Ron when she was alive really doesn’t fare well for Betty now that he’s sitting in a courtroom, spewing his long-shackled venom against the deceased. People didn’t particularly like Betty. And Ron was at the worst possible end of Betty’s lack of restraint when it came to keeping her harsh opinions inside. At a time when being socially liked could eclipse a barbaric, murderous tendency, people speaking in favor of Candy played an important role in etching a likable image of her in the minds of the jury. What sealed the deal, however, was Dr. Fason’s statement about Candy’s dissociative personality disorder. Granted, in the context of a real murder trial, Dr. Fason’s argument does come off as extremely ludicrous, but it’s the very thing that convinces the jury that Candy wasn’t herself when she turned Betty’s face into mush and left her chopped-up body behind.
Apparently, Candy did her best not to have the situation escalate until the cursed “ssssshh” came out of Betty’s mouth, and the rage Candy’s been holding inside since she was a little girl came pouring out with a vengeance. A little girl with a wound on her head held on to such a burning wrath against her mother’s untimely and, frankly, supremely insensitive shushing that she later went on to strike someone 41 times with an ax. Does that sound convincing? The jury evidently ate it up. But what swayed them more were the mere differences in physique between Candy and Betty. They really couldn’t fathom that the dainty woman that they saw before them was capable of intentionally inflicting such ghastly wounds on a much bigger person. The moral dilemma that they might have been feeling at the thought of letting a murderer go was ingeniously manipulated in Candy’s favor by Don. And even then, he wasn’t necessarily lying. Candy will never escape the agonizing knowledge of what she’s done. The fact that she can never go back to living the life of a normal person is understood even by Pat, who tabled the idea that they move to Georgia. And that is what they end up doing, but not before Candy shows up at Allan’s doorstep and wishes him good luck. While the ending scene foretells a hopeful future for the Montgomery family, the real Candy and Pat got divorced soon after moving to Georgia.
The finale of Love and Death does take an unlikely turn and paints a rather questionable picture of Allan Gore. Even when his late wife’s murder investigation was still ongoing, Allan couldn’t refrain from getting involved with another woman. This Allan is more in tune with the real Allan Gore, who went on to marry the church organist soon after the murder trial, divorced her, and remarried another woman. The real Don Crowder took his own life at the age of 56, despairingly recalling his wife’s warning in the show that freeing a killer would prove to be a haunting ordeal for him. It’s rather odd that Candy Montgomery went on to become a family therapist. But then again, all we know of the enigmatic ax-murderer is from her depictions in Love and Death, and the Hulu show on the same subject matter. Nobody other than the people close to her and the person whose life she took knows who Candy Montgomery really is.