Presumed Innocent Episode 4 Review: The Burden

Presumed Innocent Episode 4 Review: The Burden

Presumed Innocent Episode 4 Review: The Burden

After Episode 4, titled The Burden, Apple TV+’s Presumed Innocent is halfway through its eight-episode run.

The murder trial, presumably dominating the second half of the limited series, has not even begun.

Therefore, Episode 4 does much of what previous episodes have done: Going back and forth on how guilty Rusty looks while occasionally introducing the possibility of other suspects, who often resemble red herrings.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Negga in

Domestic disturbance

Episode 4 begins with Rusty and Barbara confronting their son, Kyle, after the last episode’s revelation that there was a picture of him on his bike near Carolyn’s home on the night of the murder.

Related: Presumed Innocent Season 1 Episode 3 Review: Discovery

Rusty then has a flashback to when Rusty and Carolyn were working on the murder of Bunny Davis, a woman who was murdered in a strikingly similar manner to the way Carolyn would herself be killed.

Ruth Negga in

This leads to a fight between Rusty and Barbara, in which she suggests Kyle go into therapy and later accuses Rusty of causing all the misfortune himself. After he declares that she has to take responsibility herself, she says, “I’m done,” slams the door, and leaves.

Expert witness

Now, we cut to the courtroom, where Tommy is practicing testimony with medical examiner Herbert Kumagai (James Hiroyuki Liao).

It’s clear from this brief scene that the two men don’t like each other, with Herbert repeatedly expressing resentment over having to get up early for the meeting and Tommy noting Herbert has a reputation for screwing up on the witness stand.


Peter Sarsgaard and Virginia Kull in

Later, conferring with his lawyer, Raymond, Rusty shares information about the picture of Kyle, and Raymond says what no one dared say in the earlier scenes — could Kyle have been the killer?

After Rusty shares with Raymond that he got into a fight with his wife, and she threatened to leave, Raymond says, “Knowing Barbara, the betrayal of the children is the deeper of the two offenses.”

Related: Presumed Innocent Series Premiere Review: Meet Rusty Sabich (Again)

However, the lawyer believes that because Barbara hadn’t left him up to that point, she probably isn’t going to at all.

The other son

Tommy then meets with Carolyn’s son, Michael, along with his father, and they go over photos Michael took on the night of the murder.

Then Michael, who heretofore was described as “estranged” from his mother, says that he had had lunch with Carolyn before her death, during which she shared that “a man at work” was scaring her.

While she did not identify Rusty, Carolyn supposedly told him the man was someone who “had cases” with her.

Next, we see Barbara returning to the downtown bar, where she flirted with the bartender in the second episode. The two flirt some more, actually exchanging names this time.

A modern clue

Bill Camp and Virginia Kull in

In the next scene, another example of modern technology changing the story from the book and movie Det. Rodriguez gives Rusty information about new DNA evidence from the previous Bunny Davis case.

The source of the information?

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Rusty and Rodriguez then confront the man named Ratzer from the DNA sample. He appears to have something to hide, although it’s unclear exactly what.

Then there’s another scene that would have been unthinkable in the earlier versions: Rusty and Barbara discuss what Kyle said, and after Rusty assures her that he doesn’t think Kyle is a suspect in the murder, she says, “Sometimes you forget our son is Black.”

A conflicted therapist

Next, we see Kyle with a therapist—the same one (Lily Rabe) who is also Rusty’s and Barbara’s—who asks what he thinks about seeing Rusty enter Carolyn’s house.

He doesn’t say much except to tell the therapist that a lot has happened since then.

The therapist then says she can’t continue to treat all three of them.

What follows that is a couple of legal strategy scenes. First, Nico and Tommy discuss the case, revealing that Raymond has requested a meeting, although both prosecutors appear to dismiss the idea of any plea bargain.

Back to the night in question

Ruth Negga and Chase Infiniti in

Then, we see Rusty with lawyer Mya Winslow (Gabby Beans), in which he tells a more complete story of the night of the murder.

He says he had been texting Carolyn from the office, but she wasn’t replying, so he drank at a bar.

Related: 21 TV Lawyers That Will Fight For Your Rights!

Then, she replied, so he went straight to her house and argued.

After Mya notes that he was at the house for 51 minutes, Rusty says Carolyn kissed him, which “got me to the car and got me to come home.”

Making up

Mya then meets with Raymond, and while she believes he doesn’t think the prosecution will have an easy time meeting their burden of proof, she makes clear that she does not think their client should take the stand.

Rusty then calls Barbara to clear the air about the earlier fight, only to discover she’s at the bar with the flirty bartender. 

Then, there’s a clever bit of misdirection: We see Barbara amid sex and are meant to think she’s finally commenced an affair with the bartender- but it turns out she’s having makeup sex with Rusty.

The Case Takes a Turn

James Hiroyuki Liao in

Then it’s the conference between the teams of lawyers, with Raymond telling the prosecutors they have a “lousy case,” especially since there’s no DNA in Rusty’s car.

He then says that Rusty will agree to plead guilty to the single obstruction charge and serve three years in exchange for the murder charges being dropped.

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In doing so, he plays to the political instincts of Nico, the prosecutor who had just defeated him in the election.

Then, Tommy hands over a piece of paper given to him earlier by Herbert, the medical examiner he insulted. It’s clear, from Ray’s reaction, that whatever’s on there is damning.

Nana Mensah and Jake Gyllenhaal in

In the next scene, we see Rusty and Barbara by the pool, post-coitus, where Barbara says, “That’s not the kind of sex we have,” and asks if that’s the kind he had with “her.” He denies that because “she isn’t you,” but he admits that “she woke something up inside me.”

Then, Raymond calls him and reveals what was on the paper: “Your skin was under Carolyn’s fingernails.” He says she never scratched him, meaning he’s being actively framed.

At that point, someone starts banging on Rusty’s door, and it appears it’s the man he interrogated earlier.

Rusty then opens the door and punches the man repeatedly in front of his family.

More questions raised

O-T Fagbenle and Peter Sarsgaard in

So, where does this leave us at the halfway point of the series?

We’ve seen new information that makes Rusty look more guilty than ever.

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And while he appears to have an explanation for this, we’ve now seen him suddenly snap and do something violent.

However, if the series has shown us anything, other developments will swing the pendulum back the other way.

The test will be to do it in a way that’s not overly tiresome.

Stephen Silver is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow more of his work on his Substack The SS Ben Hecht, by Stephen Silver.You can follow him on X.

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