HBO Staircase Episode 2 recap: Forensics, French film crew

HBO Max has premiered its new sequence “The Staircase,” a dramatic retelling of the 2001 dying of Kathleen Peterson and the Durham homicide trial of husband, Michael.

The dramatic sequence, starring Colin Firth as Michael Peterson and Toni Collette as Kathleen Peterson, is predicated on the Netflix documentary sequence of the identical, however attracts on different supply materials, which makes for a really totally different viewing expertise.

The sequence was created, produced, written and directed by Antonio Campos, with Maggie Cohn as co-showrunner.

HBO Max launched the primary three episodes — streaming solely — on Thursday, Might 5, with a brand new episode debuting every Thursday by June 9 .

We’re recapping episodes and right here we’ll have a look at Episode 2: Chiroptera.

Word: The narrative of Campos’ dramatic retelling of the Peterson saga jumps round in time. Regardless that many people — locals who lived by the unique protection of the case and people who have watched the documentary sequence — doubtless know the importance of varied plot factors, we’ll attempt within the recaps to stay with the dramatic timeline and never spoil occasions that happen in future episodes.

Additionally word: Keep in mind, this can be a dramatic model of occasions, which suggests some issues depicted could or could not have occurred the way in which we see.

Beneath the recap you’ll discover hyperlinks to different protection of “The Staircase,” together with a timeline of Peterson occasions, an replace on the place main gamers within the case at the moment are, a better have a look at The Owl Idea and extra.

Episode 2: French filmmakers enter the story

December 2001, Paris: Episode 2 opens in Paris, France, shortly after the dying of Kathleen Peterson. Documentary movie producer Denis Poncet (Frank Feys) is attempting to persuade director Jean-Xavier de Lestrade (Vincent Vermignon) to think about the Peterson case for his or her subsequent movie. (Backstory: The 2 had simply launched “Homicide on a Sunday Morning,” a documentary about Brenton Butler, a 15-year-old Black teenager wrongfully accused of homicide in Jacksonville, Florida. The movie received the Academy Award for Finest Documentary Function in 2002.)

De Lestrade tells Poncet he needs to characteristic a case exhibiting American justice “because it actually is,” with the protection, prosecution and choose all saying various things about the identical occasions.

(Actuality verify: The actor taking part in Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, Vincent Vermignon, is Black. De Lestrade will not be.)

Patrick Schwarzenegger as Todd Peterson, Sophie Turner as Margaret Ratliff and Odessa Younger as Martha Ratliff within the HBO Max sequence “The Staircase.” HBO/Warner Bros

A blue Christmas in Durham

December 2001, Durham: Again on the Peterson home, the youngsters are getting ready for Christmas whereas Michael sits in jail. They’re consuming, making dinner and sporting Kathleen’s Christmas sweaters. A sheet hangs over the doorway to the again staircase, which remains to be lined in blood.

The aunt of Margaret (Sophie Turner) and Martha Ratliff (Odessa Younger) calls and upsets Margaret. She needs to speak about what occurred to her sister — the ladies’ mom — in Germany. Margaret tells her they don’t bear in mind Germany and doesn’t need to speak about it.

Then we swap to Michael in jail, calling house. He jokes with Todd (Patrick Schwarzenegger) about accepting his calls from jail, then talks to Margaret about his issues that Kathleen’s sisters, Candace Zamperini (Rosemarie DeWitt) and Lori Campbell (Maria Dizzia), should not taking his calls. He reminds her how essential it’s that the household sticks collectively.

We instantly swap to a scene at Candace’s home, the place the household sits somberly because the cellphone rings and a voice declares a acquire name from the Durham County Jail on the answering machine. Candace asks her husband to stoke the hearth, and he goes over to the fireside and makes use of a blow poke.

Again on the Peterson home, the youngsters open presents and Caitlin (Olivia DeJonge) lashes out at Todd, telling him to cease saying Kathleen was drunk the evening she died, and questioning why he’s “instantly calling her ‘mother’” as a result of he by no means did earlier than.

Sophie Turner as Margaret Ratliff and Odessa Younger as Martha Ratliff within the HBO Max sequence “The Staircase.” HBO/Warner Bros

Kathleen pressured at work

October 2001: Kathleen is sporting a neck brace from her pool damage, sitting up in mattress and never sleeping. She will get up together with her alarm and Michael asks her particulars about that weekend’s fundraiser — which she is planning — for his Durham Metropolis Council race. She realizes she’ll must miss Mother and father Weekend at Caitlin’s school to attend the fundraiser.

She hears one thing within the attic — virtually horror story-style — and appears fearful.

Kathleen provides Clayton a journey to work and he talks to her about needing cash. “Yeah, there by no means appears to be sufficient,” Kathleen says. As she’s driving, she hits a deer, and a police officer shoots it, to place it down.

Then Kathleen is at work, meditating by her window, when her assistant is available in to let her learn about a gathering deliberate for later. Kathleen may be very nervous.

The day on the health club

In the meantime, Michael is figuring out on the health club (Durham’s Forest Hills YMCA) and pauses to take a look at the boys there. He spots a muscular middle-aged man with a army tattoo. Later, the person joins Michael within the sauna they usually discuss: he’s from out of city and he asks Michael about “the scene” in Durham.

The 2 males begin to … get pleasant … after which another males stroll in and interrupt them, and Michael makes a joke about it being sizzling.

Lower straight to a scene within the locker room the place Michael sees Durham DA Jim Hardin (Cullen Moss) and Hardin tells him he noticed his newest column within the Durham Herald-Solar. Tremendous fascinating dialog (which will or could not have ever really occurred) ensues:

Hardin: “That focus on on my again’s getting fairly heavy.”

Peterson: “You retain going after the little guys, to rack up wins. If you happen to tackled an actual challenge, I’d let up. I’m sorry, generally the reality hurts.”

Hardin: “Carry on on the lookout for the reality, in the future you would possibly journey proper over it.”

Michael Stuhlbarg as David Rudolf and Colin Firth as Michael Peterson within the HBO Max sequence “The Staircase.” HBO/Warner Bros

‘Keep in mind these jean shorts?’

We’re with Michael in jail and Invoice Peterson (Tim Guinee) is visiting. He tells Michael he’s getting a verify from Nortel for Kathleen’s again pay they usually can use that to pay lawyer David Rudolf’s retainer.

Michael repeats his fear that Candace and Lori aren’t taking his calls. He then asks Invoice to inform the youngsters concerning the photographs of nude males the police discovered on his pc. Invoice asks if it’s simply photographs, if he had any affairs. “Oh for Christ’s sake, no affair. Kathleen was the one one,” Michael says. Michael additionally tells him that Kathleen knew every little thing.

In what seems to be a purely comical scene, Invoice gathers the youngsters on the home and tells them concerning the photographs on Michael’s pc — “photographs of an intimate nature, and that nature was gay … simply silly, silly photographs,” Invoice says.

Clayton: “So dad is homosexual?”

Invoice: “No, he likes girls, he liked Kathleen, he simply likes the concept of males.”

Martha: “So dad’s bisexual?”

Invoice: “Bingo!”

Martha (to the opposite youngsters): “Did you guys know?”

Todd shakes his head “no.”

Then Margaret delivers the perfect line of the episode: “Keep in mind these jean shorts? The actually brief ones?”

Todd: “These (expletive) shorts.”

The youngsters sit, shocked, processing every little thing. Lastly, Todd says, “Properly it doesn’t matter. Dad’s dad.”

Invoice responds, “Proper! Dad’s dad.”

Good discuss.

The French do have good style

Michael is lastly out on bail and is met by a media mob outdoors the jail.

Within the automotive, Rudolf (David Stuhlbarg) tells Michael they’ve to look at his funds as a result of the DA will argue Michael killed Kathleen due to debt. Michael dismisses the concept of debt as a result of he’d simply offered his guide and bought an advance. How a lot, Rudolf asks. $10,000, Michael solutions. Rudolf provides him a glance that reads as “that’s it?”

Rudolf introduces Michael to co-counsel, Tom Maher (Justice Leak), and tells Michael to not sweat Hardin as a result of they’re getting Decide Orlando Hudson for the case. He’s “a great one,” Rudolf tells Michael, noting that they “go approach again.”

Rudolf then tells Michael {that a} French documentary movie crew is within the case and Michael is intrigued. “The French do have good style,” Michael notes.

Michael returns house to hugs from the youngsters.

Catlin’s dad, Fred Atwater, comes by and tells her that Kathleen’s again pay and life insurance coverage got here by and that it went to Michael, who hasn’t talked about it. Caitlin tells him that Candace retains calling and mentioning issues in the home that Michael might have used to kill Kathleen, wanting her to search for them.

Fred tells Caitlin concerning the post-mortem photographs of Kathleen, in order that she will be ready, and affords to let her stick with him at his resort.

October 2001: We see Kathleen again in her Nortel workplace — the day she hit the deer. Her assistant tells her the opposite challenge bought discovered, so the assembly is canceled. However she isn’t certain what it was that bought discovered. Then Kathleen will get a name from Caitlin, who’s indignant that Kathleen is skipping Mother and father Weekend to do Mike’s fundraiser.

Colin Firth (seated) as Michael Peterson and Vincent Vermingnon (standing) as Jean-Xavier de Lestrade within the HBO Max sequence “The Staircase.” HBO/Warner Bros

January 2002: We’re within the Peterson house with Michael, Invoice and Rudolf on the cellphone with the French filmmakers. Peterson’s aspect is reluctant to comply with the phrases, however then the filmmakers point out that they produce other choices, and Michael appears desperate to land them.

Michael tells them he has issues — that he’s fearful about how the topic of his bisexuality will likely be used in opposition to him. When filmmakers hear “bisexual” they virtually high-five one another.

Caitlin meets with Margaret and Martha within the Durham mall (I spent an excessive amount of time right here interested by the combo of Orange Julius and PF Changs cups) and says she has issues about Michael. She doesn’t belief him. She says he lied concerning the Purple Coronary heart, didn’t inform them he was bisexual and has been retaining issues from them. She thinks it’s fallacious. Margaret and Martha defend Michael.

Duane Deaver will get it finished

January 2002: The scene switches to a warehouse with a mannequin staircase and a small military of SBI brokers in lab coats being addressed by Duane Deaver (Myke Holmes). Deaver says they’re tasked with determining how the homicide occurred, saying they should replicate the assault.

“At SBI, we get it finished,” he says.

February 2017: We instantly flip ahead to 2017, with Michael being pushed to some type of Greenback Basic-type retailer to purchase stain remover for the spot on his tie. He picks out an merchandise and walks to the cashier who turns towards him — it’s Duane Deaver. Each males are shocked.

“I’ve bought to get going,” Michael stammers and runs out.

Word: We haven’t been launched to the lady with Michael, however she’s French, and she or he’s performed by Juliette Binoche, so these accustomed to the case (and even those that have learn articles concerning the casting of the sequence) realize it’s Sophie Brunet. This isn’t the final we’ll see of her.

“It’s a giant day for us,” Brunet tells Michael within the automotive.

‘All post-mortem photographs are unhealthy’

January 2002: Rudolf is prepping for the trial, saying there are two tales to current: what occurred that evening and Michael’s “nice love” with Kathleen. He then tells Michael he wants to take a look at the post-mortem photographs as a result of he doesn’t need him to be stunned in court docket.

“All post-mortem photographs are unhealthy,” Rudolf tells him. “Mike, these are worse.” Michael refuses to take a look at them and storms out.

Michael tells him he’s a veteran and he’s seen dying, it doesn’t imply he must see extra. He’s not going to take a look at them, not ever, he says.

Subsequent we see Caitlin doing an interview with former WTVD/ABC11 reporter Sonya Pfeiffer (Teri Wyble), with Tom Maher supervising. Pfeiffer reads to Caitlin from a paper she wrote in highschool about Mike and Kathleen’s love. Caitlin is shocked and asks her how she bought it.

“Dav — Mr. Rudolf gave it to me,” Pfeiffer solutions.

Michael saved it and shared it, Maher affords.

Caitlin excuses herself to go to the toilet, however as soon as within the hallway she rips off her mic and leaves the constructing.

Toni Collette as Kathleen Peterson and Colin Firth as Michael Peterson within the HBO Max sequence “The Staircase.” HBO/Warner Bros

Forensics specialists work out the proof

This phase of the episode switches forwards and backwards rapidly between the evening of Michael’s fundraiser in 2001 (57 days earlier than Kathleen’s dying) and a day throughout trial prep in January 2002, when Rudolf had a workforce of forensic scientists on the home to look at the crime scene and supply theories of Kathleen’s dying.

2001: At Michael’s marketing campaign fundraiser, Lori reveals as much as assist Kathleen and she or he has an outdated childhood buddy together with her: Dennis Rowe.

2002: Acclaimed forensic scientists Henry Lee and Werner Spitz — together with an knowledgeable on damage biomechanics and a criminal offense scene analyst — arrive on the home.

2001: On the fundraiser, we see Michael on the cellphone with male escort Brent Wolgamott (aka Brad from Raleigh), planning to fulfill quickly.

2002: Sitting on the bloody staircase touchdown, Spitz says one fall can’t clarify seven lacerations on Kathleen’s head. What about two falls, Rudolf asks. That may assist clarify the blood on the soles of her toes, Spitz says. Rudolf appears happy.

2001: On the fundraiser, Michael is ranting about DA Jim Hardin when Kathleen introduces him to Dennis Rowe. Each males react unusually and it’s clear they know one another however are pretending to not. Then we see Kathleen sitting on the again staircase taking a name from work.

2002: Henry Lee is on the staircase demonstrating how Kathleen might have died. He pantomimes your complete sequence: the autumn, the greedy on the doorway, one other fall, the coughing of blood, the squirming. Michael watches for a second, then turns and walks away.

2001: Michael makes a speech after which the Durham Dance Firm performs. As Michael and Kathleen watch, Kathleen seems troubled. She tells Michael: “I’m drained, Mike. On a regular basis, to the bones. I need assistance.” Michael says, “I do know, child, I do know. I’ll make it simpler, I promise.”

2002: On the staircase, a tape performs of a girl screaming for assist. Michael and Rudolf exit to the pool they usually can’t hear it, proving that if Kathleen had fallen and known as out for assist the evening she died, Michael wouldn’t have heard.

2001: After the fundraiser, Kathleen goes by all of the checks collected for Michael and appears happy. Michael is asleep on the couch. Kathleen calls Caitlin to apologize for lacking Mother and father Weekend and tells her that she loves her and she or he’ll make it as much as her. Then as soon as once more Kathleen hears the noise within the attic and this time she goes to test it out. She pulls down the attic door and begins to climb up when a bat flies towards her. She falls again onto the ground.

2002: Rudolf sits together with his specialists and notes that Kathleen had quite a few accidents and that after their work, they’ll account for “almost all.” She wasn’t overwhelmed or attacked by an intruder, Rudolf says, she fell twice. He begins to put out what occurred that evening.

Kathleen’s dying: Take 1

December 2001: The following scene is Michael and Kathleen by the pool on the evening she died. She will get up and begins to stroll inside, says she must get some stuff finished earlier than mattress.

She walks into the home and begins up the again stairs, sporting flipflops.

She journeys and falls again, hitting her head on the door jamb. She collapses on the touchdown, unconscious. After a number of seconds, she gasps and stirs and struggles to rise. She’s bleeding profusely now. The remainder of the scene performs out precisely as Henry Lee described, and it’s very graphic, very bloody, very upsetting to observe.

2002: Again on the desk with the specialists, Rudolf picks up the narrative: Michael finds her and she or he’s nonetheless respiration, he holds her and wipes her face, calls 911 and begs for assist, but it surely’s too late.

“Generally after we do every little thing we are able to, it’s nonetheless not sufficient,” Michael says. Then will get up and leaves the desk.

Invoice asks: “What concerning the scratches on her face, what concerning the damaged neck bone? Do we are saying how she bought these?”

“No,” Spitz replies. “Why not?” Invoice asks.

“Since you don’t get them falling down the steps,” Spitz says.

There’s silence after which Rudolf says, “Perhaps her throat hit the wooden or face banged the wall, I’m not fearful about it.”

Caitlin turns

2002: Caitlin and her father, Fred, are on the DA’s workplace with Hardin and Freda Black.

Caitlin seems on the post-mortem photographs of her mother and Hardin goes over the toxicology report. “Her blood alcohol was .07 with a Valium degree of .15 milligrams per liter. To place it merely, by authorized requirements, she wasn’t intoxicated when she died,” Hardin tells her. Caitlin cries.

Black tells them that Kathleen didn’t die accidentally, that Michael killed her.

Again on the Peterson home, Michael finds out that Caitlin has switched sides and he’s indignant. He tells Margaret and Martha to not discuss to her.

Rudolf says that Caitlin will get one hour to get her stuff out of the home — out of her house — and she or he is restricted to her bed room solely, and is supervised the entire time. She needs a few of her mom’s jewellery, however can’t have it till the property is settled.

She manages to slide a word to Margaret and Martha inside the toilet medication cupboard. They later learn the word whereas within the automotive, and Margaret balls it up and throws it out the window.

Olivia DeJonge as Caitlin Atwater within the HBO Max sequence “The Staircase.” HBO/Warner Bros

The French hit Durham

2002: Michael tells the household concerning the documentary crew coming. He tells Margaret and Martha to return to high school and tells Clayton to return to Baltimore and keep out of the highlight. He tells Todd he must “step up and be the person of the home” whereas he’s distracted by the case.

The filmmakers arrive and movie Michael out by the swimming pool, matter-of-factly telling them what occurred the evening Kathleen died and the way he discovered her “barely” alive.

Colin Firth as Michael Peterson and Vincent Vermingnon as Jean-Xavier de Lestrade within the HBO Max sequence “The Staircase.” HBO/Warner Bros

De Lestrade feedback in French about how uncomfortable Michael acts, then “directs” him to indicate extra emotion. Michael bristles on the suggestion that he ought to act for the cameras.

Then all of them discover somebody standing outdoors on the garden. It’s Patricia “Patty” Peterson (Trini Alvarado), Michael’s first spouse. She waves.

“Hi there! I noticed that you simply have been busy and I didn’t need to hassle you,” she yells out. Then an owl hoots and Patty gazes up into the timber.

In the meantime at Candace’s home, she notices the blow poke, grabs it and begins beating a pillow with it. Her husband yells at her to cease and she or he screams, “That son of a bitch used the blow poke!”

Recaps earlier of HBO Max ‘Staircase’ episodes

HBO’s “The Staircase” Episode 1: The dying of Kathleen Peterson and an arrest

Extra protection of HBO’s Peterson saga ‘The Staircase’

For full protection of HBO Max’s “The Staircase” and different background on the dying of Kathleen Peterson and the homicide trial of Michael Peterson, go to: newsobserver.com/matters/staircase

HBO Max’s “Staircase” sequence: What to anticipate (vs. the Netflix possibility) and how you can watch

“The Staircase” updates: No matter occurred to key folks (and Durham home)

A “Staircase” timeline: From Kathleen Peterson’s dying to her husband’s trial and plea

This story was initially revealed Might 5, 2022 8:05 AM.

Observe extra of our reporting on Staircase: Kathleen Peterson’s dying and Michael Peterson’s homicide trial

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Brooke Cain is a North Carolina native who has labored at The Information & Observer for greater than 25 years. She is the service journalism editor and writes about TV and native media for The N&O’s Happiness is a Heat TV weblog.

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