‘Presumed Innocent’ Episode 4 Is Full of Bad News For Rusty

a couple of men in suits walking down a flight of stairs
‘Presumed Innocent’ E4 Has Bad News For RustyApple TV+

Ever since we learned Rusty Sabich had an affair with his colleague Carolyn Polhemus, I’ve been waiting for him to beg for forgiveness. Not for her murder—though some (cough, cough, Tommy Molto) would love that—but for sleeping with Carolyn in the first place. Rusty has a wife and kids. I know a cheating husband isn’t exactly rare, but you know who is? A wife who’s fine with it.

So far, Barbara Sabich has kept a level head about the whole affair-turned-murder-mystery ordeal. Aside from a sharp comment here and a disappointed gaze there, she’s been pretty chill. Could it be a coping technique? Is she dissociating? I don’t know, but in episode 4 of Presumed Innocent, their family therapist suggests Barbara confront her feelings—and later, we finally (finally!) see Barbara and Rusty talk about how they got here.

It’s not quite the blow-up I imagined—Rusty makes a boneheaded you need to accept responsibility for your role in my affair comment, and Barbara storms off—but it’s more realistic that way. Relationships hold too much history for overly scripted monologues. The tension lies in the details. Those unspoken moments speak far louder than any fight sequence I could’ve drummed up. After all, it’s the golden rule of writing: Show, don’t tell.

That adage appears to be the theme of episode 4, which marks the midway point of the series. We’ve heard a lot from every character on Presumed Innocent, but what aren’t they saying? Those details could be instrumental in identifying Carolyn’s killer.

Let’s review.

Kyle Knows Something He Shouldn’t...

Episode 4 begins with Rusty and Barbara confronting Kyle. The police have photographs of him biking away from Carolyn’s house. Why? We don’t know. He won’t say. After a brief standoff, Kyle admits he was curious about his dad’s affair. Apparently, Rusty and Barbara aren’t as good at keeping secrets as they thought—he overheard them fighting about Carolyn ages ago. Rusty tries to squeeze more information out of Kyle, but he won’t budge. Later on, Barbara manages to get a few more details. Kyle rode by Carolyn’s house “a few times” and saw Rusty go in once. It’s unclear what else Kyle knows, but he needs to start talking either way.

Raymond Knows Rusty Isn’t the Man He Claims to Be

Remember what I said about Rusty not expressing any guilt? His friend and defense lawyer, Raymond, noticed that, too. Rusty confides in Raymond after he and Barbara get into a fight. Barbara claims to be “done,” but she’s still around. “If she was going to leave you, she would have already done it,” Raymond says, unmoored by Rusty’s concerns. “What would she be waiting for? A good excuse.” Raymond continues: “You betrayed her, betrayed your children.” Rusty claims it’s “complicated”—isn’t it always!—and Raymond pushes back, wondering if Rusty’s issue isn’t infidelity but rather depression, compulsion, or, worse, narcissism.

“I’ll take any of that,” Raymond says. “Let’s send you to a doctor and get a diagnosis. My fear is that it’ll just come back ‘pig.’ ” Rusty is floored. “How dare you say that I don’t take responsibility? That I don’t feel shame and that I am not consumed by guilt?” Then Raymond sums up my feelings about Rusty with a razor-sharp remark. “You know, in forty years, I have seen a lot of guilt and shame in this business,” he says. “Shame is something that you put on yourself. Self-absorbed. Self-centered. Guilt is more about owning and feeling the pain you cause others. I don’t doubt that you feel shame.” Boom!

Raymond doesn’t think Rusty is a killer, but he does think he’s a bit of an asshole. Even if his pal isn’t capable of murder, that doesn’t mean Rusty is entirely innocent.

Tommy Knows Nothing!

a man and a woman walking down a hallway
Tommy and Virginia. Apple

This man is all bark and no bite. While Rusty confronts his own narcissistic tendencies, Tommy ignores the fact that his prosecution technique is rooted in his disdain for Rusty and desperate need to feel important instead of, you know, evidence. At work, Tommy is confronted by his and Rusty’s coworker Virginia, whom Tommy listed as a witness. She knew about Rusty and Carolyn’s affair and kept it secret. Tommy accuses her of withholding information from HR, and she says what I’ve been thinking since episode 1: “Wow, you really are a miserable prick.”

Tommy claims his diligence (if we can even call it that) is “for Carolyn,” but it’s not. Tommy meets with Carolyn’s son, Michael, and his father. He wants to review Michael’s testimony—that he saw and photographed Rusty at Carolyn’s house—before the trial begins. The thing is, it wasn’t abnormal for Rusty to be there. He’s already admitted to visiting Carolyn that night in hopes of reversing their breakup. Still, Michael and Tommy feel there’s more to the story. While talking to Tommy, Michael says he believes his mother was afraid of Rusty. “This man at work was beginning to scare her,” he says. Carolyn never told Michael the man’s name, but “she said she had cases with him.” Interesting. Rusty and Carolyn did work together, but surely he can’t be the only man in the office she worked with…right?

Brian Ratzer Knows Bunny Davis

Wait. Who’s Brian? Oh, just another potential suspect. A while back, Rusty asked to reopen his former client Bunny Davis’s case—she was killed in a similar way to Carolyn—and found another sperm sample in her autopsy report. The DNA belongs to Brian, so Rusty and his coworker stop by his house for a chat. Brian doesn’t say much, but he is prickly with his wife. Then again, since Brian is yet another philandering married man, maybe he just doesn’t want her to know that he slept with a sex worker. His confrontation with Rusty has the least lines in this whole episode, but it speaks volumes. As Rusty sits, smugly waiting for Brian to unravel, Brian tenses up, scared and deeply confused.

Rusty Knows He’s Screwed

As episode 4 wraps up, Rusty has pissed off his wife, his friends, and his kids. To make matters worse, he discerns that his relationship with Carolyn wasn’t as loving as he remembered. Rusty is asked to recall their last interaction in preparation for the trial. He says he went to her house and they got into a fight. He was there for exactly fifty-one minutes. “We kissed goodbye,” he says. “She kissed me. She knew it would give me hope. The kiss got me to the car. Got me to go home. When I got home, I realized the hope had just turned into cruelty. She knew what she was doing. She was fucking cruel.” Oof. If Carolyn wasn’t the enigmatic, bubbly, and kind woman we’ve seen in flashbacks, then who was she?

a couple of women
Barbara grabs Jayden. Apple TV+

Back at home, Rusty gets a call. It’s Raymond. Rusty’s DNA was found under Carolyn’s nails. “She never scratched me,” he says, disturbed by the thought. Then the banging starts. Jayden yells from the living room that a man is at the door. Surprise! It’s Brian, and he’s pissed. I guess after Rusty left, Brian did a little research and realized Rusty was trying to pin Carolyn’s murder on him. Barbara rushes in to comfort the kids, who are terrified by the big man threatening to break in...and Rusty snaps. He opens the door, punches Brian, and pummels the guy.

Rusty, where’d this violent streak come from? You owe me some answers next week.

You Might Also Like