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If you’re a fan of Defending Jacob, that means you’ve been enjoying the cinematography of a blue and grey New England winter interspersed with a mystery and character study of how loyalty to family can cloud one’s judgement. At least that is what I thought until the Visitors episode. Up until then I found myself justifying Andrew Barber, Jacob’s father, who was going to extreme and illegal lengths to protect his son who he asserts is innocent in the murder of a classmate.
You may have been like me, on high alert for clues that would establish Jacob’s guilt or innocence, watching his mannerisms, friendships, alliances, and looking for anything that might reveal some monstrous tendencies. I have a counseling background, so I decided to look into some qualities of psychopaths and sociopaths. As I went down the list of qualities I was struck by how many of them described not Jacob, but Andrew! There were a myriad of indicators, but for brevity, I’ll highlight only four of them. I think this helps us to better understand the choices Andrew has made and will make moving forward, as well as the extremes he will go to to exonerate his son.
First let’s tackle our perception of the psychopath. Widely perceived as a murderous villain carelessly crashing through society and causing mayhem, this description is nearly the opposite of a true psychopath. Psychopaths have traits that allow them to blend quite nicely into their communities. They are often successful, don’t stand, and are rarely outcasts. Andrew fits the bill, as before he is removed from his son’s case, he is a busy and successful lawyer. Through his interactions with his mentee we see that he is the go-to guy in his boss’s eyes. And as we observe his work, we see he is very knowledgeable and respected by his colleagues as well as by police officers.
Where his perfect facade cracks a little is at home. His wife eventually comes to realize how strange it is that he doesn’t have friends. While she has just lost her best friend and is miserable, he’s doing fine. She recounts that he’s never had friends, since she’s known him. She always felt it was something endearing, it meant she could have him all to herself, but now she’s having doubts. Not having close friends is another red flag and a common feature in psychopaths.
Manipulating people is another key attribute. Remember how Andrew is constantly hounding Paula Duffy? She’s incredulous when he claims they have a friendship, recounting that the first time she’d been to his house was to serve him a warrant! He never reaches out to her for any kind of genuine friend support. Actually, he only contacts her when he needs something, like asking her to tell him confidential information. Recall how he accosted her outside of the gym to ask if Derek was a suspect. He waited for her outside of her house, in the dark, to beg her to give him illegal information, all the while using their friendship as a bargaining chip. A master manipulator move.
Most upsetting is the lack of guilt or conscience he displays. This is one of the most familiar trademarks of the psychopath. Notice how in every situation where Andrew does something illegal or immoral, and there are multitudes, he shows no remorse. He throws away the knife-that may or may not be the murder weapon-just in case. He never thinks twice about it. There is no tearful admittance to his wife or family. He doesn’t express regret to the lawyer but doubles down on the lie that he wanted it out of the house. He goes around shaking down teenagers without a second thought. We never even see any trepidation. He never returns to his car afterwards and sighs or has to gather himself after such an egregious act. He is not ashamed in the least. None of what he has done haunts him. No flashbacks..no nightmares about his shady acts.
Manipulation, no close friends, lack of remorse, all while being successful and blending in are all key elements in Andy’s character that scream psychopath. I think this adds an element to this story that makes for even more complications. I appreciate this character being multi-layered and not just a dad loyal to his son. It has been fascinating to see how a psychopath functions in a family especially and through a tragedy more specifically. I don’t think this fact affects the murderer but as a character study gives the depth to Andrew that makes this fascinating to watch. How do we as an audience sympathize with him now? Even more do we need to?
Psychopaths don’t have to commit murders to be harmful and most of the time they don’t. The damage they do is mainly by manipulation. Can you see other ways where Andrew has taken advantage of people or the system that I didn’t cover here? Please feel free to share them. If you enjoyed this article or know of someone that might please feel free to share it. For more on Defending Jacob, follow our After Show Fridays at 5pm and watch past episodes here
Kay Montgomery is a host at Afterbuzz TV who loves sitcoms and is currently embroiled in a vicious debate on Bracketology. She is A Different World devotee and although she has a masters degree in Education from The University of Redlands, she would have given anything to go to fictional Hillman College.
Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, artist-friendly AfterBuzz TV is the world’s largest digital broadcast network and pop culture news platform, producing post-game ‘after-shows’ for nearly all favorite TV shows, interviewing cast and showrunners and providing the widest video, audio and article coverage of shows, content and influencers than any entertainment news platforms in existence
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