‘Waco: The Aftermath’ Episode 4 Recap & Ending, Explained: Is Cogdell Not Letting The Defendants Testify?

The fourth episode of Showtime’s Waco: Aftermath shows that, if done properly, court drama is far more nail-biting and engaging than watching fast action. Brilliant storytelling and skilled actors ensure that the audience feels invested in the court proceedings and keeps their interest secured as more drama unfolds. Giovani Ribisi does a phenomenal job as defense attorney Dan Cogdell, who tries to the utmost to protect the Waco survivors from the cruel bulldozer that’s the government trying to smother voices of protest. It’s a deeply engrossing series, and each week, the show only keeps getting better. Here’s the detailed recap of Waco: Aftermath Episode 4.


Spoilers Ahead

Fan Mails To The Defence

The defense counsel has gathered around in their favorite restaurant and read through some of the hateful letters they’ve received, shaming them for defending the Waco survivors. Dan Cogdell doesn’t want to bother with these e-mails when Rocket pulls out a fan mail where the writer has appreciated the actions of the lawyers and thanked them for being real patriots. What they fail to realize is that the author of this letter is none other than Tim McVeigh, the same man who’s planning to blow up the Oklahoma FBI Building.


The Missing Doors 

At the court, all the assault rifles and other weaponry that could be extracted from Waco has been brought in, and the prosecutor, Bill Johnston, questions the dealer about David Koresh’s philosophy of preparing for a massive war. The dealer hadn’t dealt with Koresh personally, but he’d sold them to Paul Fatta, another defendant being tried for attacking the ATF agents. While Johnston makes a ranger admit that the guns were military grade and keeping them for personal use showed Koresh’s evil intentions, Cogdell is interested in something else. He questions the ranger about the two metal doors of the compound that weren’t retrieved in the search, although they could bring in even the smallest components. The ranger speculates that it’s possible the two metal doors could’ve burned in the extreme heat when the building caught fire, and Cogdell asks the same question to a lieutenant as well. Neither had seen the seven-foot-tall metal doors, which are vital to the case.

While questioning the lieutenant, Johnston asks him about the tract of land where Fatta and Koresh used to receive gun supplies, and he’s about to mention if the lieutenant knows Fatta from before when Cogdell raises an objection. He approaches the bench and repeats to Judge Smith that Fatta’s previous crimes shouldn’t be brought up. Smith refuses to entertain any mention of Fatta’s previous actions, and Johnston must swallow the bitter pill. As Cogdell keeps asking questions about the doors, Fatta thinks back to a time in 1987 when George Roden really showed how much of a twisted nut job he really was. George called up Vernon Howell, aka David Koresh, and challenged him to prove who the true prophet was. He explained that he’d dug up his mother Lois’s decomposing corpse, and the person who’d bring her back to life would get to head Mt. Carmel. Howell and Fatta went to the sheriff, who said he needed photographic proof that George had indeed committed corpse abuse, and upon hearing that George was well-armed, he casually suggested they arm themselves up as well.


Outside the court, Cogdell gives an interview in which he says the federal government is covering up the horrible crimes they committed at Waco, and now the one who greenlit the raid is acting as the head prosecutor. He adds that Bill Johnston has some hidden agenda to convict the Waco survivors as the prosecutor walks by. Johnston later harangues Cogdell regarding his claims and warns him to play fair, but the defense lawyer says that with the entire US government backing Johnston, Cogdell will use any means available to get the case to his side. At night, Rocket and Cogdell speak about Juror Number 6, who’s strictly against the Waco survivors, and Rocket thinks she’s a problem, but Cogdell doesn’t believe she’ll be an issue. Former CIA operative Gordon Novel swoops into their booth and presents them with a picture where FBI agents can be seen loading something similar to a door into a truck at 3:55 p.m. on the day of the Waco tragedy. The defense celebrates because this undoubtedly proves that the doors were intentionally removed to hide evidence.

New Evidence 

At court, Cogdell submits the photo as the stolen door, but Johnston refuses to believe it’s the same one and adds that Cogdell has found the picture from a “conspiracy theorist.” The defense lawyer is concerned as to how Johnston knows his source, but the prosecutor bulldozes on that his team has found the door in question. Three men bring in one of the two doors, and Johnston asks Ranger Boak various questions about the door. Boak says that they’d found this one much further inside the compound and thought the other one had burned because they were made of aluminum with foam cores. He continues that since the building burned at 1300 degrees F, the other door, which was still attached to its hinges, melted while the other one didn’t. There’s another flashback to Fatta and Howell gathering equipment and buying a camera to gather proof. They then buy some rifles and camo suits to sneak into Mt. Carmel just to gather proof. At night, four men, including Howell and Fatta, arrive at the place and creep into the church, where they find the coffin and, inside it, the rotting body of Lisa! While clicking pictures of George’s madness, the man himself barges in with an Uzi and opens fire at the people who run for their lives. Fatta hides behind a car, but George finds him and is about to kill him when Howell shoots the madman’s hand and helps Fatta escape. However, right outside the fate, cop cars arrive, and the group surrenders quickly.


Cogdell questions Boak about the door and says that to prove for certain whether the Davidians were lying or the ATF regarded which side shot first, the other door would have to be found, but Boak says it’s burned. Just then, Cogdell’s associate brings something in, and he points out that the retrieved assault rifles didn’t melt, so if the other door was also made of steel, it wouldn’t have melted. Cogdell adds that since his father was a contractor and he’d carried several doors with him, he knew for a fact that no aluminum door was so heavy that it needed three men to carry it. He also asks Boak if aluminum is magnetic, and Judge Smith overrules Johnston’s objection to the question. Boak says the metal isn’t magnetic, so by that logic, the door that the prosecution has brought in shouldn’t also be magnetic, and the fridge magnet Cogdell’s associate brought in wouldn’t stick to it. But, hey presto, the fridge magnet sticks to the door, thereby proving without a doubt that the Waco compound had steel doors and that the ATF had hidden the other door, which did not burn in the fire. It’s proven that the ATF purposefully hid the other door and claimed it was made of aluminum, but Cogdell had proven otherwise. Outside the court, Cogdell gives an interview regarding how the government is targeting Fatta for being in the firearms business and how he is now being punished for his trade.


Meanwhile, important juror Lori Rae is almost accosted outside her house when a weird-looking man runs to her, slams on her door, and leaves her a pamphlet. He claims he’s here to remind the juror of her constitutional rights, which will help her make the right decision. Before the court convenes, Smith asks the counselors of both parties to approach and makes them aware that five jurors had pamphlets delivered to their homes by FIJA, the Fully Informed Jurors’ Association. This group claims that the court laws don’t apply to the jury, and they can make whichever decision they decide is right. Cogdell asks Smith to confirm that the jury doesn’t think the defense might’ve had something to do with this lot because that’ll bode poorly for the whole defense. When the court begins, Waco survivor and state witness Kathy Schroder are brought in, who proceeds to expose the entire scenario of what happened at Waco on a fateful day. She says her task was delivering guns to everyone, while the flashback shows how she was the most impatient to go kill the ATF. She points out Ruth, Livingstone, and Clive as the people who had guns with them, and she supplied ammo. Kathy proceeds to explain that David Koresh had brainwashed and conditioned the entire lot, and their plan had been to go out and draw the ATF fire if Koresh died because they were supposed to die that day. Johnston makes Kathy admit that the Davidians had plans to die anyway that day, even if the ATF didn’t launch an attack. This is clearly a lie because the miniseries Waco showed Steve Schneider calling his sister and telling her that they had no plans to die, lest the ATF later kill them and call it a suicide.

The Gary Noesner Subpoena

The other defense attorneys are tearing into Cogdell for subpoenaing FBI negotiator Gary Noesner to testify when Cogdell says that the jury needs to be convinced that the people who died at Waco didn’t plan to kill themselves. Nobody’s family can convince the jury about that, but a badge-wearing officer’s words might hold some weight if he says that the victims of the tragedy had planned to survive the tragedy, unlike what Kathy said. While returning to the prison, Clive, Ruth, Livingstone, and Fatta are all shocked at the lies Kathy spewed, and they want to testify because it’s their constitutional right. They want to prove that Koresh never wanted to hurt them and that he actually loved them all. The final flashback shows young Howell getting into his mother’s car when she lambasts him for his actions. She then attacks him for impregnating a 14-year-old girl when he bursts into a rage and says he’s doing everything based on God’s commands. He declares he’s to be called David Koresh and threatens his mother that if she doesn’t call him by his chosen name, she’ll never see her grandchildren.

The Undercover Agent

At Elohim City, Pappy Millar is delivering sermons at their local church adorned with SS and KKK flags, and his speech is pungent with a call to action where the congregation is asked to take up arms to protect “White America.” While listening to the racist old coot’s ramblings, Becca finds Carol looking at some mean-looking men checking out guns outside, and she alerts the newbie to stay away from their leader. She adds that his grandfather founded the Nazi party, so rest assured, he’s as evil as they come. Carol roams around the area and keeps watch as the German guy enters his trailer home. Later, she sneaks out to reach the phone booth and calls Gary Noesner, but Andy the German sneaks up behind her. Carol has to pretend to be speaking to her father and say that she’s reached her friend’s place safely while Noesner sighs with relief. However, she can’t stay on the phone for long and hangs up as the Nazi is listening to her, but Noesner is satisfied that Carol hasn’t betrayed them yet. He tells Angie the same, but she’s not convinced and takes her daughter to the FBI’s daycare center, just as Tim McVeigh walks around the same area, looking at the several children playing in the room. It’s surprising how just anyone can walk into the FBI’s daycare section without proper validation. Later, McVeigh’s buddy suggests that they should select a different spot because if they kill children, they’ll be hardly any different than the ATF scumbags.


Noesner gets a call from his superior, Alan Sanborn, who asks him to board a plane and head to the Waco trial because the defense has called upon him as a witness. Noesner says he’s a CI in Elohim, and Sanborn warns him that if the unauthorized CI dies, the negotiator’s career will end. He adds that Noesner must go to Oklahoma and prove that he’s on the FBI’s side if he wants to support his case.

Is Cogdell Making A Mistake By Not Letting The Defendants Testify?

When Noesner arrives at court, he finds several people protesting against the government, and his eye meet Cogdell’s. The defense attorney learns that the defendants are mutinying and want to testify. After a noisy argument saying the defendants can’t be allowed to testify, Cogdell decides to indulge them and starts asking them the questions that they’d be asked if they went up on the stand. He questions why they stood silent when David Koresh married the young girls, and he blasts them, saying it was statutory rape.


Clive Doyle allowed his 12-year-old daughter to marry a 30-year-old man, and nobody protested. Livingstone tries quoting the Bible, but there’s no room for ecclesiastical quotes in a court of law, and Cogdell says that each defendant is guilty of being silent watchers of little children being subjected to such horrid actions. Basically, if the defendants are allowed to testify, the prosecution would tear them apart and blame them for allowing little children to be sexually assaulted. It is to avoid this very situation that the defense doesn’t want the survivors to testify. As the defendants break down in tears, it becomes extremely clear that they have clearly been conditioned.

It’s important to understand that the defense’s whole play is presenting the Waco survivors as victims, and if they admit to being mute spectators to little children marrying a full-grown man to give him grandchildren, they’ll be implicated. The prosecution is merciless, and even presenting false facts isn’t beyond Bill Johnston, so he’d not show any mercy to destroy the survivors, whom he’s already itching to blame. Thus, Cogdell’s decision is correct and necessary.


Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

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