‘Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story’ Episode 5 Recap: “Scream Therapy”

Dirty John The Betty Broderick Story Episode 5
Lena Georgas as Janet and Amanda Peet as Betty Broderick in ‘Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story’ episode 5 (Photo by: Isabella Vosmikova/USA Network)

Episode five of USA Network’s Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story kicks off with Dan (Christian Slater) explaining to Linda (Rachel Keller) that Betty feels most alive around Christmas time. He claims he tried to give her the kids to share the holiday with, but she wouldn’t take them. Linda quickly changes the subject and the conversation devolves into a red hot makeout session.

The kids pause while decorating the Christmas tree to watch their dad make out with Linda in the kitchen. Or at least that’s the story Betty (Amanda Peet) is unspooling to her friend Karen Kintner (Missi Pyle) over lunch. It’s really just her imagination taking over as the kids haven’t said anything like this happened while they’re around.

Linda admits Dan did offer to let her take the kids skiing over the holidays. She refused and instead he took them on a trip with Linda. She’s obsessed with the idea Linda and Dan are sharing a bed and that the kids know this is going on.

Karen tries to convince her friend she should have taken the kids away instead of Dan, just to get some form of continuity in their lives.

Betty returns home from lunch to find a gorgeous bouquet of flowers on her doorstep. They’re from Dan and the card reads:

“Bets, I hope you have a Merry Christmas. Love, Dan”

Dan and Linda keep the kids from entering the living room when they return home from their short winter vacation. Betty broke in and destroyed presents addressed to Linda and left shattered glass all over the carpet. It’s a mess and Dan concedes sending flowers was probably the wrong thing to do. (You think?!)

Dan believes Linda did this because she’s childish and craves his attention. He thinks that once they move to Balboa Park, Linda will stop acting out like this. She won’t feel ownership of that house like she does the Coral Reef place.

Dan takes photos to document the destruction before he cleans up.

As Betty’s outside her place preparing to get coffee and go for a walk on the beach with a friend, a man delivers papers notifying her the divorce is final. Dan has been awarded everything. Betty’s confused because she postponed the hearing and wasn’t even in attendance. She doesn’t have a lawyer and claims there was no due process.

The paperwork lays out that Betty is no longer allowed to visit her kids until she sees a psychiatrist. Betty’s livid that mom’s who abuse their kids can still see them, but Dan’s now found a way to keep her from her children.

A letter from Dan insists they stop badmouthing each other to the children as they head into the next step: court-ordered mediation. She immediately calls Dan’s house and gets his machine.

Dan arrives at work and passes his answering machine tape to a secretary. It’s obvious she’s had to type up its contents multiple times before and isn’t looking forward to listening to more of Betty’s vindictive spewings.

Dan dictates a new letter to Betty informing her that calling him is violating a court order. Because she won’t obey the law, he’s now going to deduct $100 per offensive word. When she sets foot on the Cypress Ave property, he’ll withhold $250 from her monthly alimony. If she comes through the door, it’s a $500 fine. “Each time you try to spend time with the boys without clearing it with me, $1,000,” says Dan.

Betty shows her friends the letter from Dan while at lunch. She knows Dan’s calling the shots and she doesn’t have any way to fight back. She’s no longer working at the gallery and this is her whole life right now. Her friends suggest she see a therapist, but Betty knows he’ll subpoena the records and somehow use them against her.

“That answering machine is my therapy,” says Betty. “My primal scream.”

Her friends continue to try and come up with alternatives to leaving hate-filled messages on Dan’s machine, but Betty takes issue and thinks they’re siding with Dan. She shows off the bill she just received from when Dan had her involuntarily committed and confesses smashing things is all she wants to do at this point.

Betty keeps leaving messages and Dan keeps having them typed up.

Betty sits outside Dan’s new house, fuming in her car. On one such occasion, she gets out and rips the antenna off his sports car.

When Dan continues to refuse to call her back, Betty seriously spirals out of control. She leaves a message threatening that if he doesn’t call her back, she’ll kill him.

Betty’s messages never refer to Linda by name. Instead, they always address her as “the whore.”

Betty returns to Dan’s new place and throws a potted plant at a glass door. She enters his house and begins destroying walls with a hammer. She smashes vases and glass shelves, and spray paints all over his walls.

Meanwhile, she’s also leaving dozens of messages that are all transcribed. The secretary confides in a co-worker that Betty sounds evil and has a laugh like The Exorcist.

During one answering machine message she says, “I don’t want to see you or the whore or the slums where you live or your bullshit anymore. You made my life into a nightmare. I close my eyes and I see you and the whore doing all your wonderful things. You’re going to be real sorry.”

Dan dictates a new letter to Betty that explains the results of his monthly sanctions. Her deductions exceed the $9,000 he agreed to pay her each month. She now owes him $1,300 and he warns her to stop attacking him and his property or else he’ll never pay her anything ever again.

To add insult to injury, the letter’s notarized by Linda.

Betty hasn’t learned her lesson and instead heads over to Dan’s house. She won’t leave when he asks her to and after a brief discussion, Dan calls the cops to have her arrested. She’s taken to jail and ultimately let go on her own recognizance.

Betty tells a friend she has no idea how she can live without Dan’s monthly check. Her friend writes her a check for $6,500 to tide her over.

Betty finally follows the suggestion of some of her close confidantes and begins keeping a diary.

August 7, 1986. Betty meets with a mediator without a lawyer. Dan’s not in attendance as normally the mediator meets with both parties separately. He asks for Betty’s prepared statement and she’s confused because she thought she was supposed to read it. He allows her to read it into the record.

In her statement, she claims to be the victim and refuses to accept responsibility for raising the children because of how he’s twisted her sense of values with his lies and behavior.

She asks to hear Dan’s position statement and is told he didn’t submit one.

Linda and Dan attend a gala and the friend of Betty’s who loaned her money asks to speak with them. She reveals she knows about the fines and jail time, and thinks it’s gone too far. Dan doesn’t understand why this woman who doesn’t really know the details of his life would involve herself in this matter. He suggests she focus on her own life rather than spread stories about his. (It’s revealed this black-tie event is in honor of the 1987 President-Elect of the San Diego County Bar Association, Daniel T. Broderick, III.)

Betty’s friend was insulted by Dan’s behavior and decides to give Betty the name of a lawyer, Hilary Clark (Mary B. McCann), who will be willing to represent her. They meet and Betty explains she wants to ask for $28,500 a month from Dan – a figure she believes is a quarter of what he earns.

“Why should my lifestyle decline when he wouldn’t have his lifestyle without me?” asks Betty. She also wants custody of the kids – but not without a settlement.

Hilary explains it would be easier to get a judge to go along with a settlement if she has custody of the kids. The lawyer suggests Betty undergo the court-mandated psych evaluation while she digs into Dan’s finances.

Hilary requests Betty cease calling, going to Dan’s house, and visiting the kids without permission. Betty agrees to all that plus she promises to return the lawyer’s phone calls.

Dirty John The Betty Broderick Story Episode 5
George Newbern as Walter Mills and Christian Slater as Dan Broderick in ‘Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story’ episode 5 (Photo by: Isabella Vosmikova/USA Network)

Betty and Dan are in the courtroom, each represented by counsel. Before the hearing begins, Dan’s lawyer reveals Betty called Dan again to harass him. The judge stops the lawyer and says, “Going forward, you will not use this court to litigate minor infractions. We will proceed in an efficient manner and I will not tolerate any attempt to waste my time with garbage.”

Score one point for Betty.

The judge appoints Dr. Margot Hayes to perform the court-ordered evaluation.

Betty secretly meets with one of her boys to help him with his homework.

Dr. Hayes asks Betty how Dan got custody in the first place and Betty lays out the story of the rats. She left the kids at his place and he’s had them ever since. The doctor begins to write this down and Betty frantically stops her, requesting she doesn’t take notes.

Dr. Hayes assures Betty that since Dan has such long hours and Betty is the primary parent, they should be able to work out a reasonable custody arrangement. But, it all depends on what the kids tell her. Dr. Hayes adds that this is possible since Dan wasn’t awarded custody as part of “an actual contested litigation in court.”

Things are going her way but then she says, “Not going to be a single parent to four kids. He’ll die first.”

The doctor appears shocked by this statement. (Who wouldn’t be?) She asks if Betty’s threatening Dan and Betty confirms she threatens him all the time.

Betty writes down all her troubles – real and imaginary – in her diary. She blames everything on Dan. She believes solitary confinement is the cruelest punishment other than the electric chair.

Betty meets again with her lawyer and explains Dan doesn’t pay at any set time of the month. It’s more like whenever he feels like it. She thought about trying to get a job in childcare but then wasn’t sure how she’d explain she can’t see her own kids. Betty’s in tears as she reveals she didn’t even see Ryan on his birthday.

The lawyer has good news; Betty can have the boys on Easter weekend. Betty’s incredibly happy and can’t believe she’ll be with her kids on the holiday.

The school rings up Betty because they can’t reach Dan. Anthony’s sick at school and wants her to come get him. Betty learns Anthony’s had a lot of colds and he recently had lice, thanks to another student.

The night before Betty’s supposed to pick up her boys for the Easter weekend, she has a happy chat with one of them about their plans for celebrating the holiday. She promises to be first in line to pick them up at school.

Betty dons bunny ears and prepares to go get the kids. The phone rings as she’s heading out and she doesn’t answer it.

Betty arrives at the school just as Dan is pulling away with the boys in his backseat. She runs over the safety cones to follow him and races through traffic to catch up. She pulls alongside him and he screams through his window at her to stop. She finally forces him over – still in traffic – and runs up to his window screaming he promised she could have the boys for Easter.

Dan claims he changed his mind and her lawyer should have informed her of his new plans. The kids want to go with their mom but Dan won’t let them. He pulls away, leaving Betty standing in the road being honked at by backed-up traffic.

Betty returns home and eats the Easter candy. She writes in her diary that she’s done nothing in self-defense. “How can anyone survive after this kind of an assault?” she writes, adding, “Wouldn’t anyone become violent after all his incessant bullshit?”

Betty continues to leave messages on Dan’s machine. One of her sons finally answers and blames her for causing her own problems. If she knocked it off, they could come see her. He claims he wants to be with her and if she stopped saying bad words, then they could be around her.

He asks his mom to grow up and start acting like an adult. He also reveals they think she only cares about money and what it can buy. Betty says Dan robbed her of everything.

Dan comforts his young son who’s crying when he hangs up the phone. He then retrieves the answering machine tape with the recorded conversation.

Betty tells Dr. Hayes about her son’s colds, the lice, and that his ears were filled with wax. She thinks Dan doesn’t care if his children walk around filthy and sick. He’ll just blame any parenting issues on her.

Dr. Hayes confirms she normally only meets with a parent once but thought they needed this second, more structured session. She wants to know what kind of visitation she would want Dan to have if she got the children back, and Betty says none. She then describes herself as a good parent and that only now does Dan contend she’s unfit. Betty doesn’t help herself by becoming emotional and saying “his whore” while describing the kids’ current living conditions.

The doctor stops her and asks her to say Linda’s name. Betty won’t. Dr. Hayes asks if Betty ever discussed any of this with Linda and Betty doesn’t actually respond other than to ask if that’s on her too. She does, however, say Linda’s name and then gets up to leave.

Dr. Hayes is shocked Betty’s leaving during the session and Betty claims it’s because she’s too good of a therapist. She doesn’t want the kids by herself. “I won’t let you talk me into it. You make me forget that I’m angry at the a**hole and his whore, and if I’m not angry I’m not going to make it,” she confesses as she leaves.

After she leaves, Dr. Hayes begins writing everything down.

Betty meets with her attorney who’s upset about a stack of contempt motions Dan sent over. Hilary’s angry Betty continued to call Dan’s house after she agreed not to. Plus, she hasn’t been paid by Dan. She then offers up a deal. Hilary learned Dan’s selling a Colorado property and he agreed to send her a check for the full amount. She’ll act as broker and divide the proceeds, taking her fee from Betty’s half.

Betty’s livid that Hilary called Dan. She can’t believe this happened behind her back and now believes Hilary is just trying to get in good with Dan at her expense. Hilary’s at wit’s end and asks what she’s supposed to do – she’s not going to work for free.

Betty fires Hilary but Hilary still appears at her side during a hearing. She informs the judge the contempt filings and postponements by Dan are only to deliberately delay trial proceedings. She also believes they could be used to hide assets.

The judge is over all this nonsense and tells Dan to get Linda off the answering machine. He also announces that after Betty’s psych exam, he’s going to leave the kids exactly where they are. Betty can only see the kids if Dan agrees. Plus, the judge hands her a 25-day jail sentence.

Hilary speaks up and asks if the judge will allow Betty to apologize to the court rather than serve time. Betty rises to her feet and promises to change her ways. She agrees to not leave more messages and to obey the rules. The judge lightens the sentence to six days in jail. However, she will not be allowed to go home and get her affairs in order first.

She’s taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

Dan returns home and has a heart-to-heart with one of his sons. The boy wants to see his mom and Dan describes Betty as being like a kid who kicks and screams to get her way. Dan assures his son it’s not his fault; it’s all on Betty.

The scene switches to show a blindfolded Linda walking through their friends gathered at a bar. Dan drops to one knee and proposes. Linda says yes.