USA Network’s Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story episode four begins in the courtroom with a psychologist testifying. He specializes in treating couples and has studied the impact of infidelity on individuals.
Next, we see the “other woman” who sparked Dan’s infidelity, Linda Kolkena (Rachel Keller), at her desk in the reception area of the building that houses Dan’s law firm. She watches with more than casual interest as Dan (Christian Slater) arrives and later departs the office. Over the days they exchange smiles and casual greetings, and it’s obvious that Linda has an interest in taking this relationship further.
Fast-forward a bit and Dan’s taken an interest in the pretty (and much younger than his wife) receptionist. He’s hired her on to be a paralegal/his assistant, even though she lacks the skills necessary for the job. She’s beside herself when Dan awards her with her own private office. She even admits it’s crazy that she’s risen so fast and is worried others will feel the same way about her promotion.
She’s a horrible typist and isn’t sure she can handle the job, but flirty Dan promises she can learn on the job. He even jokes he’ll give her dozens of chances when she screws up.
Late nights alone at work find the two growing closer.
The scene shifts to Dan, Betty (Amanda Peet), and the kids at the beach. He looks uncomfortable and impatient to be away from his family. Back at work the following Monday, he describes the weekend as “long” to Linda. A call comes in for her and when she answers no one’s on the line. (We know this is Betty checking to see if Dan fired her like she demanded.)
The final scene from episode three in which Dan warns Betty he pays for everything plays once again, but this time it’s an extended version. When Betty asks if he’s sleeping with Linda, Dan doesn’t actually say no until Betty calls him on his non-response. He then declares, “I am not sleeping with Linda Kolkena. I haven’t and I’m not.”
Once again to the courthouse we go, and the psychologist is explaining what happens when someone loses faith in their partner and becomes vulnerable.
After hours, Linda struggles at the typewriter to correctly type one simple sentence. She’s interrupted by Dan who makes his move. They hold hands and kiss, equally into this new relationship that will sound the death knell for his marriage. (And, ultimately, lead to both their deaths.)
This happens in October 1983 and in November of that year Betty looks distracted as she dines with her friends. She blurts out that she believes Dan’s “banging his assistant” and her friends grow concerned. They don’t think Dan’s like that, and Betty can’t point to any single thing he’s doing that would confirm he’s cheating.
However, Dan confirms he’s a middle-aged cliché when he returns home with a snazzy red sportscar. Betty’s reaction to the new car turns from amusement to jealousy when Dan reveals he went with Linda to pick up the car in Long Beach.
On another occasion, Betty’s left hanging in a hotel’s restaurant while Dan chats away on a public payphone (not in his own room) to Linda. When Betty discovers what he’s doing, he covers by saying there’s an issue with a deposition that urgently needs to be taken care of. She stalks away, angry, as he calls after her that he’s just trying to make it so they don’t have to cut their time away together short.
Dan finally returns to their table at the restaurant and discovers Betty’s purchased an $8,000 dress as a form of revenge. He continues to claim the call was just work.
Back at home, a friend suggests Betty fight for her husband. She thinks Betty should surprise him for his birthday by showing up at his office, looking gorgeous and with champagne to celebrate the occasion.
Betty decides to follow her friend’s suggestion and discovers Dan left after lunch. She takes the roses and champagne she brought into his office where she finds the remains of a party, including a birthday cake. She takes a seat and stares at Dan’s desk while we hear the psychologist describe how the partner of a philanderer is lied to and sometimes made to feel crazy.
Betty eventually returns home and screams at her friend who’s graciously been babysitting her kids. She also screams at one of her young sons to leave her bedroom and return to bed as she frantically pulls some of Dan’s expensive clothing from the closet.
Betty takes his clothes outside and starts a bonfire. Dan catches her doing so and doesn’t say anything until she explains she tried to surprise him at work and he wasn’t there. She’s upset he left for the day with Linda, but Dan claims he went to lunch with Linda, Dan, and Walter. Plus, the cake she saw in his office was from everyone – not just Linda.
After lunch, he returned to work for a hearing at 1:30pm. He thinks Betty’s overreacting and continues to claim he’s not having an affair with Linda. Dan doesn’t understand how he can prove he’s not doing something she’s convinced he’s doing.
Betty begins crying and hugs her husband. He eventually hugs her in return.
The psychologist explains what Dan did to Betty was gaslighting in that he pretended to be concerned for her while actually engaged in an affair under her nose. He also explains Betty’s self-esteem and self-worth were called into question during this period.
December ’83 arrives and Linda openly talks to a co-worker about a romantic work trip with Dan. Dan’s secretary overhears the conversation and is disgusted.
Meanwhile, after the late-night clothing BBQ, Dan and Betty appear to have patched things up. They discuss buying a new house and even visit a doctor to see about reversing Betty’s tubal ligation. Both appear to want more children.
The psychologist describes what happens if someone is brainwashed by being told repeatedly that something that is in fact true isn’t. Pressure will build up in the person being lied to.
Linda continues to talk about her relationship with Dan at the office, and Dan’s secretary continues to be dismayed and upset at Linda’s lack of awareness.
Dan’s secretary finally works up the nerve to address how she feels about Linda openly discussing the things she and Dan do together. Dan rewards her courage by telling her it’s none of her business.
14 months have passed since Linda and Dan hooked up, and it’s now December 1984. Linda confesses her family made her feel sad by asking when she’s going to find a man. “Imagine if I told them that I found a man a year ago, actually, and he says that he’s in love with me. He has four children and he hasn’t told his wife, but don’t worry she knows. They wouldn’t be able to look at me. Sometimes I can’t look at me,” says Linda, overcome with emotion.
The psychologist continues his testimony. If the adulterer doesn’t admit what he’s done, there cannot be any real change. Instead, he just adds to the pressure cooker.
Betty confesses to a friend she doesn’t actually want to be pregnant; she just wants Dan to understand she would have another baby if he wanted one.
Dan meets with his lawyer, Doug, and they go over exactly what Dan needs to do to prepare himself legally for a separation from Betty. He needs to definitively establish the date of the separation and show intent to end the marriage.
Meanwhile, Betty continues to believe her relationship is back on solid ground.
February 28, 1985. Dan comes home from work late and Betty’s already in bed. He grabs a suitcase and begins packing his clothes. He wants time away to think. “If I don’t take this time, I’m not going to be any good to anyone,” he says, pausing his packing.
Betty accuses him of taking off to be with Linda. He claims that’s not true and apologizes for springing this on her. He even asks if he should wait to leave until the morning. Betty tells him to make up his own mind.
She’s trying to hide the fact she’s been crying when the kids come downstairs in the morning. Betty fills them in on the fact Dan will be spending time away from the house to think. She explains to the kids Dan needs to figure out some things but assures them he loves them.
Betty has lunch with friends and reveals Dan moved out on Tuesday night. When they ask, she clarifies that he never said they were separating or getting a divorce. In fact, she thinks she’ll like this quiet time apart. Her friends are much more concerned about her marriage than Betty seems to be. She’s sure they’ll be moving into their recently purchased home in La Jolla together.
Dan returns to their new house one night and they make love. He’s obviously been drinking a little and is horny.
April 1985. It’s been 18 months since Dan began cheating on Betty. She calls to ask what he wants brought to their new home, and Dan finally reveals he’s moving back into their old house on Coral Reef. Betty’s confused. Dan also reveals he no longer plans on taking an August vacation with the family to Lake Henshaw or on going with her to her dad’s 75th birthday celebration back east. Dan tells Betty to go to the lake without him.
Betty and the kids return home after their trip to find rats inside their new house. Betty calls Dan screaming there are rats all over and he refuses to come help them. He suggests she use one of her 13 credit cards to hire an exterminator and stay at a hotel. He hangs up after telling her, “Good luck.”
Dan returns home one night to find the kids sitting outside the Coral Reef house. Betty dropped them off and then took off for New York for her dad’s birthday. They explain their mom said he needs to be reminded there’s more to it than fun.
After returning from NY, Betty shows up at the Coral Reef house to retrieve the kids. She explains she dropped them off because she wants Linda to understand what it means to have children and what she’s done to their family. Dan reveals he’s taken the kids to camp and didn’t list Betty as a next of kin. She won’t be allowed to pick them up, and he warns her he’s going to seek an emergency judgment so that the kids will live with him from now on.
23 months have now passed since Dan and Linda began their affair. It’s September 1985 and Betty calls her children to wish them luck on the first day of school. After she hangs up, she opens the front door to receive papers informing her Dan’s suing for divorce.
Betty goes to Dan’s lawyer’s office – he’s also a friend of hers – and he explains he can’t represent her and Dan. He suggests she “be a good soldier” or else she may never see the kids.
Dan and Betty sit down to discuss her finances. He believes her credit card bills are atrocious but says he’ll pay them down. He’s willing to give her $9,000 a month for her mortgage payments and other living expenses. Dan thinks he’s being generous and Betty doesn’t disagree. He informs her to contact him once she obtains a lawyer.
Betty heads over on one of her visitation days to retrieve the kids. Dan’s not there but a maid is with the kids even though they’re old enough not to need a babysitter. One of her daughters reminds Betty she’s not allowed to just let herself in using a key and Betty doesn’t try to justify her actions. Instead, she comments on the Boston Crème pie (Dan’s favorite) on the table. She figures out Linda made it and takes it to Dan’s bedroom where she smears it all over his clothes and his bed.
Betty continues to break the rules by using her key to let herself in. Dan’s had enough and in October 1985 he obtains a court order to keep Betty off the Coral Reef property. If he doesn’t give her permission to be there, she can be jailed for setting foot on the property.
She calms down enough to beg him to reconsider what he’s doing. Dan finally admits after two years that she never imagined his affair; he was – and still is – in love with Linda. “You were right the whole time,” says Dan. Betty laughs and celebrates the fact she isn’t crazy.
The episode ends with a voice-over from the psychologist. He’s been using a pressure cooker analogy to explain Betty’s relationship with Dan and says, “They were taken off the market…pressure cookers. Eventually they tended to explode.”
- Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Episode 1 Recap and Review
- Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Episode 2 “The Turtle and the Alligator” Recap
- Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Episode 3 “Marriage Encounter” Recap
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