Presumed Innocent Season 1 Episode 6 Recap: The Elements 

Critic’s Rating: 3 / 5.0


When we last left the Sabiches on Apple TV+’s Presumed Innocent, Rusty’s trial had just begun. Tommy delivered a strong enough opening statement that Rusty left out an expletive to himself. 

Presumed Innocent Season 1 Episode 6 has Rusty sitting at the defense table, visibly stewing. We can tell he misses the act of being a lawyer while simultaneously imagining himself doing things, like accosting a witness, that he wouldn’t be able to do in his professional capacity. 

As the trial begins, medical examiner Herbert Kumagai (James Hiroyuki Liao) is on the stand, questioned by Tommy, and laying out the physical facts of Carolyn’s murder, including her time and manner of death, and that she was pregnant by Rusty. 

O-T Fagbenle and Peter Sarsgaard in O-T Fagbenle and Peter Sarsgaard in
(Apple TV+)

However, on cross-examination, Raymond gets him to say that the evidence does not point to any particular guilty party or to the existence of a murder weapon. 

In a redirect, Tommy gets the witness to establish that Rusty had demanded to see the body, which is not typical behavior for a district attorney. Raymond, in turn, asks Kumagai if he is biased against prosecutors, causing the witness to lose his temper and taunt Raymond over his re-election loss. 

Jake Gyllenhaal in Jake Gyllenhaal in
(Courtesy of Apple TV+)

The scene’s end is a callback to several episodes earlier when Tommy was prepping with Kumagai and mentioned that he has a history of screwing up on the witness stand. It’s worth noting that the scene is very different from the pivotal moment in which Kumagai testifies in the Presumed Innocent movie. 

Presumed Bobbled

In the car afterward, Nico and Tommy comment on those events, with Nico second-guessing Tommy’s performance in court. Later, Nico mentions that the initial report did not mention the key bit of physical evidence about Rusty’s skin under Carolyn’s fingernails. 

Next, we see the defense’s post-court discussion as they prepare for the next witness. Raymond and Mya (Gabby Beans) talk with Rusty and Barbara about her body language in the courtroom.

Elizabeth Marvel and Ruth Negga in Elizabeth Marvel and Ruth Negga in
(Apple TV+)

Barbara makes clear that looking anything other than “shocked” is going to be easier said than done, because “this is the darkest hour of my [expletive] life.” 

The next witness is Buck (Christopher Thornton), a forensic pathologist, who describes the murder scene as both uncommonly bloody but “sterile” and that the killer must have taken great claims to clean up the crime scene.

Raymond, in questioning him, brings up the case from several years earlier, prosecuted by Rusty and Carolyn, in which the victim was tied up similarly to how Carolyn was. 

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The lawyers then argue about whether the threat against the prosecutors by the convicted killer, Liam Reynolds, can be admissible. That’s tabled for now before Raymond gets the witness to say that the skin cell evidence could have come from merely a kiss rather than a violent act. 

The action then moves from court to the Sabich home, where we see Barbara again taking up painting.

It’s back in court for Eugenia (Virginia Kull) ‘s testimony. The lawyer, Rusty, and Carolyn’s coworker, who had two previous episodes, had expressed nervousness about testifying. She’s asked when she learned of the affair and answers that it was when he saw them kissing in the office; she also says she once saw the two arguing in a parking garage. 

Related: Presumed Innocent: Episode 5 Review: Pregame

Cross-examined by Mya, Eugenia admits that she disliked Carolyn and disapproved of the affair. And while she says she never made an HR complaint, Eugenia drops a bombshell: Carolyn once made such a complaint against Tommy. 

Jake Gyllenhaal and Bill Camp in Jake Gyllenhaal and Bill Camp in
(Courtesy of Apple TV+)

Tables Turned

Rather than asking the witness what the complaint alleged, Mya turned the questioning over to Tommy himself. Eugenia testified that Carolyn did not want to work on cases with Tommy because “you gave her ick.”

This is a modern phrase that certainly did not appear in Scott Turow’s novel or the movie. 

Related: Presumed Innocent Episode 3 Review: Discovery

Tommy does recover, though, when Eugenia says Rusty was behaving obsessively toward Carolyn. 

That night, Raymond is at home with his wife. While they agree Tommy is a “snake,” he worries the jury will pin the murder on Rusty. 

O-T Fagbenle and Peter Sarsgaard in O-T Fagbenle and Peter Sarsgaard in
(Courtesy of Apple TV+)

At the Sabich home, Rusty talks to his daughter Jaden (Chase Infiniti). Jaden tells of a recent school lesson plan on trauma and disassociation. This implies that her father had committed the murder but disassociated after doing so. 

“My memory is fine,” Rusty tells her. He then retreats to the treadmill and runs hard. Then he comes up to the bedroom, and there’s a brief, rare-for-Apple TV+ nude scene for Jake Gyllenhaal. 

Barbara then tells him they need to talk. She admits that she began going to a bar every day, that she met Clifton, and then they kissed.

Sabich v. Sabich

Rusty seems at first to be more upset about Barbara’s tendency to “grind me over and over again” than he is about the kiss. He then appears to grab her, leading Barbara to walk out of the room slowly. She may possibly also think her husband may have committed the murder after all. 

The next morning, it’s clear that Barbara won’t be accompanying her husband to court that day. Jaden apologizes for the previous night’s discussion and offers to go to court in her mother’s place. 

Noma Dumezweni in Noma Dumezweni in
(Courtesy of Apple TV+)

Barbara is next in the scene with Lorraine (Elizabeth Marvel), where she admits she told Rusty about Clifton. She then says she’s skipping court that day, specifically because that’s the day letters and texts will be introduced into evidence. 

In a conference in chambers, the judge suggests a plea to manslaughter, which both parties reject. With two episodes left, the immediate end of the trial now appears unlikely. 

That night, with the show skipping over a day of court, Rusty sees his daughter asleep on the couch and tries to get her to bed. He then sees Barbara enter the room. Then, they reminisce about when their kids were little, and they would watch them sleep. 

Peace at Home

“Why do you stay,” he asks her. 

“The same reason you do,” she says. 

Back in court, the final witness of the episode is Michael (Tate Birchmore), Carolyn’s son. He testifies that he didn’t think Carolyn wanted him as part of her life. Therefore, he would sometimes go to her house and spy on her, sometimes shooting videos. 

James Hiroyuki Liao in James Hiroyuki Liao in
(Courtesy of Apple TV+)

Michael also admits that he contacted Rusty after the murder, and they met. Michael says on the stand, more than once, that Rusty is “the man who murdered my mother.” He added that Carolyn had told him she was “having trouble with a man at work” and was afraid of that man. 

Dreams Fulfilled

Raymond begins the cross-examination but suddenly freezes before collapsing on the ground. This is similar to the dreams he had in an earlier episode — except that this time, it’s real — and his head does not explode. 

That’s where the episode of Presumed Innocent ends. With two episodes left, it’s unclear how the trial might proceed.

Once again, like most episodes of the series so far, Rusty appears guilty at some points and less guilty at others. In contrast, alternative suspects and other red herrings are presented and discarded. Also, there are scenes where Rusty and Barbara get along and others where they certainly do not. 

But with this episode, Presumed Innocent more resembles the courtroom drama that the movie was, even as it departs significantly from the plot. 

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