The Staircase Episode 4 Review: Colin Firth Starrer Comes to a Verdict But, Is Justice Served?

The Staircase Episode 4 is out now! HBO Max’s latest true-crime drama miniseries is created by The Devil All The Time’s Antonio Campos and, is based on the 2004 true-crime docuseries of the same name created by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade. The runtime of the fourth episode is 75 minutes.

The cast features Colin Firth as Michael Peterson, Toni Collette as Kathleen Peterson, Michael Stuhlbarg as David Rudolf, Dane DeHaan as Clayton Peterson, Olivia DeJonge as Caitlin Atwater, Patrick Schwarzenegger as Todd Peterson, Sophie Turner as Margaret Ratliff, Odessa Young as Martha Ratliff, Rosemarie DeWitt as Candace Hunt Zamperini, Tim Guinee as Bill Peterson, Parker Posey as Freda Black, Juliette Binoche as Sophie Brunet and, Vincent Vermignon as Jean-Xavier. The story recounts the infamous trial of novelist Michael Peterson.

– HBO Max’s The Staircase Episode 4 Review Does Not Contain Spoilers –

The Staircase Episode 4: Common Sense

The fourth episode of The Staircase makes you question, ‘what is justice?’. The question might not find a conclusive answer by the end of the episode but, our narrator leaves us with an impactful dialogue- “A trial is simply two sides competing to tell a better story. And 12 jurors declare one of the stories the winner, and that story becomes justice. Justice is a construct, little more than a game, a game that shapes the outcome of a man’s life. As for what is happening today, this feels bigger than justice. This is fate.”

This dialogue is delivered by Sophie Brunet, the white-haired woman who has been with us since the first episode and also happens to be one of the editors of Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s docuseries which inspires this HBO miniseries. The episode starts with Jean interviewing Sophie, 12 years after the trial. As the interview commences, we are shown editing clips mimicking the real documentary and soon transported to the time of the real trial.

The prosecutor and the defence are going at each other with blows in this episode. Starting from the theory of Michael murdering Kathleen at the Staircase with a blow poke to the defence asserting that the DA was involved in dictating the autopsy reports, a lot of things come up in the fourth episode to give some direction to Micheal Peterson’s trial. We also get to see how Elizabeth Ratliff’s 20-year-old death is connected to Peterson’s case. But most importantly, The Staircase Episode 4 hugely relies on the family dynamics that twist and turn while the trial commences.

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A death in the family is always hard. It is harder still if the death is questioned between either being a murder or an accident. And, all the walls come breaking down when a close and loved family member is put on the stand for it. Michael Peterson’s trial goes beyond the courtroom in this episode to show us how his children suffer in the background.

From detachment to confusion and conflict to pure faith, the children go through a lot of emotions that make them lose their minds or drive them to moments of sheer panic and pain. The representation that the case does not just limit itself to Michael, even though his life is the one at stake, is replicated heartbreakingly.

The actors continue to do a fine job. Colin Firth, who stands at the centre of the story portrays his role excellently, almost being a spitting image of Micheal Peterson himself. The children, the lawyers and, even the in-laws keep you invested. But, it is still Toni Collette who leaves you in awe and shock. She isn’t there in this episode a lot but, it is that one fine ending- the ending that leads to the final verdict- that gives you chills.

It is brilliant and scary, how many times Collette is going to keep delivering the death at the bottom of the staircase scene to align with every theory in regards to the case. We are in safe hands to thoroughly feel every emotion when this scene will play in the future.

The Staircase Episode 4: Final Thoughts

So far, so good- that is what the HBO Max series is at this point. At times, it feels a little manipulative as it shows us more of Michael’s defence than the prosecution’s findings but, it is never preachy, never stopping at one finalized answer, pretty much like the original case. The cast is giving stellar performances, enough to keep audiences coming back to the case and the show. However, this is just the start as the future of the show is sure to get complicated with the inconsistent SBI reports and more, so that will prove better if it can handle and deliver the heat and sensation to our screens.

You can watch The Staircase Episode 4 now streaming only on HBO Max. To read the review for the previous episodes, click here.

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The Staircase Episode 4 gives us the roundabout of Michael Peterson's first trial.

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The Staircase Episode 4 gives us the roundabout of Michael Peterson's first trial.The Staircase Episode 4 Review: Colin Firth Starrer Comes to a Verdict But, Is Justice Served?