The further detriment that visits Betty Broderick in the wake of her husband breaking down her resolve reveals something nihilistic in the bran of Dan Broderick. The essence of his two faced conniving personifications to his ex-wife maybe are meant to be a reflection of America at the time. With Episode 5 of “Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story”, “Scream Therapy”, the progression of Betty’ s path to possible redemption which skews to a wanton path of destruction is undeniable. Even without full support, she almost finds her way almost to balanced ground. There is however an imbalance and lack of control. The downfall is not primarily or even remotely her fault. it is a world bought out of Dan’s belief that he is right. He only admits at one point in an earlier episode that he is wrong and what is interesting there is that he seems almost on a mission to show that he was not. It as if his truth was a victory when in actually it shows that she is the victor but she doesn’t have the tools or a feeling of focused vengeance…hers is uncontrolled. Dan Broderick’s new girlfriend has her own issues (as she displayed in an earlier situation). Her parents didn’t want her to be a homewrecker but she is just worried what the outside thinks. Once she is inside the den, she doesn’t care. At a certain point inside a therapist’s office Betty asks that question in “Is anybody else asking about the well being of the children but me?” It is a dark place that Betty exists with no money, and no support. Even worse there are summons against her because she cannot control her rage. While it is a hopeful element that she might be able to find a power base, she makes small understandable mistakes that undermine er position.
The situation is vicious and immovable. It is a tale of love lost and love rebuked. As much as Dan does, Betty still harbors some love for him which is why it makes no sense to her as to why he would shun and destroy her so. This series has been dramatized but it is hard to think that someone would be this cruel to the mother of his children and then manipulate their minds (especially one son) into the idea that his mother was always disturbed. This is, of course, a reflection back to code cinema in certain ways of the metaphor of what is right just because society deems an action at the time as acceptable as long as it is swept under the carper. However in the modern age it might be a Shakespearean metaphor on the inherent unfairness that reigns in some circles. “Scream Therapy” is just that: the continuation of Betty’s maddening decent into oblivion is based not so much on her mistakes but her blindness to the lousy and cruel person her husband has become. Slater plays that darkness as light for all its worth and that is part of the charm of why the character can continue to function. But like the title namesake of “Mr. Robot”, Slate understands the necessity of a villain as the dark specter who simply turns the knob a little but more against his opponent each time.
By Tim Wassberg