It was the sequel that simply had to happen.
When Making a Murderer caught on like wildfire amongst Netflix viewers upon its arrival on the service in 2015, it ended with us crying out at the TV in anger at the injustice seemingly put upon Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, who were tried, and convicted for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
The ten episodes of the documentary, made by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, cast major doubt over the methods and effectiveness of the American justice system; doubts that were immediately acted upon, as famed lawyer Kathleen Zellner took up Avery’s case, and Laura Nirider and Steve Drizin headed up Massey’s new legal representation, with the latter having his conviction overturned in November 2016 – although he remains in jail after the police lodged an appeal. Avery, meanwhile, is hoping to be exonerated later this year – with Zellner confident that he won’t even face a retrial.
With such huge developments since the original series, it was inevitable that a follow up series would be made – and it’s now been confirmed by Netflix VP of original content, Cindy Holland that new episodes will air at some point this year.
She told USA Today: “The story is still ongoing, so you will see new episodes coming sometime this year as this story continues to unfold. “We [just] don't know when for sure new episodes will be coming. Laura and Moira are on the ground [in Manitowoc] shooting regularly and working on what the right story is to tell in the next set, so we're deferring to them on when it will be ready. Very few people inside of Netflix actually know the details of what we're getting because we're wanting to keep it really under wraps and it is an ongoing case so we're trying to be sensitive to that.”
The new series will offer “exclusive access” to the new legal players in the story, as well as “intimate access to the families and characters close to the case”.
Ricciardi and Demos have said “We are extremely grateful for the tremendous response to, and support of, the series. The viewers’ interest and attention has ensured that the story is not over, and we are fully committed to continuing to document events as they unfold.”
Dassey’s conviction was the first to be challenged, with his conviction overturned in August, with the decision centring on the manner in which his ‘confession’ had been obtained. He was ordered to be released on 14 November, but the state's Attorney General announced plans to file an immediate emergency appeal. Three days later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit blocked Dassey's release, pending resolution of the appeal. It is not yet known when the appeal will proceed.
Meanwhile, Avery’s lawyer Kathleen Zellner has been providing regular updates on his progress via her Twitter account. A judge in November authorised new DNA testing, which could prove that Avery’s blood had been planted in Halbach’s car. Avery’s friend Curtis Busse told The Daily Mail, “I don't know any other lawyer working this hard for free. She really cares about fixing the justice system and doing what's right and making sure that the people involved in this do receive consequences. It's been very expensive, she's conducting multiple tests. It's an incredible amount of money.”
It could prove a wise investment since Avery is expected to receive a $100m compensation settlement if his conviction is quashed, although money is seemingly not his only motive, with Busse adding, “He wants revenge and for him to get revenge, it's actually for the good of the people as well. Freedom is number one priority for him, it really is, and then after freedom I would say right behind that would be consequences for those who did this. There were a lot of people involved in him being put behind bars, nobody is going to be left out. This is what makes Steven really so very unique. He says: ‘I want this to set the bar for other people in the future, I don't want this to ever happen again to anybody else.’”
Again, it is currently unknown when an appeal will be heard, and it is also worth noting that many critics of the first series suggested that filmmakers chose to portray Avery in a positive light, leaving out important pieces of the puzzle.
Whatever happens, the new episodes are sure to be an absolute must-watch.