Dan is truly the worst.
Of course, that’s a significant part of what’s driving the narrative in this reinterpretation of the filming, hitting home that fact, lest we were so distracted by how disturbed Alex was that we lost sight of that.
And Fatal Attraction Season 1 Episode 6 showed just how Dan was essentially his own worst enemy in landing himself in prison for murder.
It’s fascinating that as we stray farther away from Fatal Attraction Season 1 Episode 1, we learn that the seemingly charismatic “Nice Guy” everyone loved wasn’t that at all.
I don’t know if it was a deliberate choice to present Dan that way only for things to shift or not, but I wish I could know for certain that it was.
Otherwise, we have this heel turn of the “Golden Boy” that has nothing to do with Dan changing up and everything to do with other people’s reactions to him.
It’s believable that Dan has always been consistently himself, but it’s a bit jarring that he went from presumably being the well-liked attorney in the courthouse to this guy that people actively loathed.
Ok, so here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to find her body, and I’m going to put you under the prison, okay? You got nothing to say now? That’s not like you; you always got something to say.
In that presentation, they again fall into this pattern of trying to play both sides by painting Dan and Alex as equal parts villains and victims.
Because what we essentially get from this is that people tolerated Dan and faked the funk but subconsciously or quietly loathed him, and the first opportunity they got to write him off completely, they pounced and tore into him.
The second there was a whiff of trouble, whatever animosity that people had harbored toward him came out tenfold to the point where they could sit idly by and watch him go down for murder and could boast about people seeing him for the asshole that he is.
The fact that our entire framework of people’s perception of Dan is rooted in characters from all facets of the justice system makes the conflicting tale and results infinitely worse.
Justice is supposed to be blind. It was not in any capacity with this murder case, and that’s disturbing, even if the man who went to prison for years is an asshole. It doesn’t mean that he was a guilty asshole.
Somehow, the series relentlessly sells us on the politically correct and conscientious concept that Alex is a victim in all senses of the word while simultaneously making Dan a martyr.
In many ways, I wish they’d stick to a specific narrative and execute it properly. Because as it stands, their attempts to invite social commentary by providing all facets of an issue feel like fickle flip-flopping to appease without taking any one stance.
In wanting to say all the things, they’re saying nothing.
But the hour showed us exactly how Dan could’ve gone away for Alex’s murder and why people don’t give a damn about him trying to clear his name now.
Every step of the way, from the second he learned of Alex’s accusation against him, he worked counterproductive to his best interest in his attempt to work in his own interest.
In the end, his arrogance and utter disregard for everyone around him cinched the deal in putting him in prison. I guess we needed something to explain how he went away for Alex’s murder without a body or a murder weapon.
For a lawyer with an extensive history in the legal system, Dan was dumb all around. Arrogance bore ignorance.
Dan: Where’s the body?
Earl: I was hoping that you would tell me.
To borrow from Chicago PD‘s Hank Voight, “Tell me the truth so I can lie for you.” Dan was the worst enemy in his own defense because he couldn’t be truthful.
Maybe Earl wouldn’t have pressed on with this case against Dan if Dan hadn’t blatantly lied to Earl’s face, insulting his intelligence and spitting on the opportunity Earl gave him to get ahead of things and save face.
And for a lawyer, Dan is a terrible liar.
He then went on to seek his boss’ help, expecting her to throw caution to the wind, her reputation, her job, all of it, to rally around and fight for him, and he didn’t even have the decency of telling her the truth about anything.
Worse yet, he actively attempted to gaslight, guilt, and bullshit her and got angry that she didn’t buy into it.
He’s so selfish and self-involved that he expected all of these favors, the benefit of the doubt, and to rely on relationships he fostered that were inauthentic and entirely self-serving because he couldn’t be honest or own up to his actions.
And as the hour unfolded, we proceeded to see how everyone’s lives had to get disrupted, and people were subjected to the very worst of Dan and his ways all because he couldn’t keep his penis in his pants.
It was sickening that he sat there and allowed his wife to argue his case for why his still grieving father-in-law should float Dan money that was specifically for Beth and Ellen to use for his defense.
It was worse when he quietly accepted, without a hint of guilt to be found, Arthur and his cancer-stricken, terminal wife’s money.
Dan thought he was the smartest person in the room at all times and was consistently proven to be far from it, and his arrogance and selfishness turned people off and helped drive them toward punishing him.
No one really cared if he was guilty or innocent. They just knew that he was an asshole who needed to be knocked down a peg, and they probably harbored a myriad of feelings because of how he treated them.
So much of this mess could’ve been avoided if Dan had been honest and accountable for his affair with Alex. Instead, in his efforts to keep that under wraps, he put a bigger target on himself, making himself the primary suspect.
People couldn’t know the extent of his deception. If he lied about something as obvious as his affair, he easily could’ve lied about whatever happened to Alex or whether or not he did something to her.
Treating his colleagues and peers as if they were stupid and trying to manipulate them would never go over well.
By the time Earl showed up at his place to arrest him, it was easy to understand why how we got to that point.
And yet, despite all of that, it’s infuriating if one is being as unbiased as humanly possible, which is the goal when investigating and convicting, the things played out as they did.
In the present, Mike and Dan have found heaps of evidence and information that should’ve, at the very least, raised reasonable doubt and kept Dan from going to prison.
They never found Alex’s body. The account of Dan assaulting her came so abruptly and took off like wildfire without anyone looking into that further.
It was 2008; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation had been on for at least eight years by then, thus shifting everyone’s perception of investigation and making it infinitely harder to try cases when even a layman expected a plethora of evidence.
With what we know at this stage, it makes no sense that no one looked into all the other possible suspects, considering all the other prints in her home, looked into witnesses and persons of interest, delved into her background a bit more, or unearthed previous incidents.
We get bits about how it was an election year, and they had to prove that they could be tough on crime even if it meant going after their own. They’re harping on how they wouldn’t put the dead victim on the stand.
They’ve made all these little comments and implied all these things to explain why this case didn’t work in Dan’s favor, and it’s just so unbelievable.
In this effort to course correct, it feels surreal that everyone is tiptoeing past the fact that Alex’s mental illness was actively harmful and destructive to those outside of herself.
The solution to the stigmatization of mental illness isn’t to veer so far away from doing that it becomes equally and dangerously problematic, too.
Emma: Joanna’s in her third trimester with a toddler. So when she calls for reinforcements, Mom has to answer. But I’m really sorry about that if you needed me.
Alex: I don’t care what you are. I don’t care about you at all.
What does not ring true in the least is that every single soul involved in this investigation and Dan or Alex’s lives were conscientious of the stigmatization of mental illness and actively worked against it without so much as presenting a sliver of unconscious bias about it.
If it doesn’t ring true even if 2023, it certainly doesn’t in 2008. From Dan’s boss and his friend who wanted to enlist as his defense attorney to Clay, Earl, and others in legal aid, no one wanted to vilify the victim.
However, it was like Alex being mentally ill was the naughty word they couldn’t say or acknowledge. They’ve taken the “I don’t see color” approach to her mental health, as if even acknowledging it at all was offensive.
Clay was an interesting character. You could see he was genuine, sympathetic, and intuitive.
Given his own experiences with a mother who was mentally ill, he picked up quickly that Alex had some issues, but he never let that detract him from dating and caring for her.
I loved what he had to say about pushing too hard for her to get help and support when she was evidently still not acceptant that she had a problem and needed it.
It was very self-aware and sensitive, and it was one of those moments where they succeeded in striking the right nuance with the mental health issue.
We haven’t seen the full extent of Dan vilifying Alex for being mentally ill as his primary defense. Surely, it was ugly and even worse coming from someone who touted himself as the victim’s voice.
Clay reading Dan for filth had its entertaining aspects. And it remains bizarre that Mike and Dan even think they’ll get anywhere with half the people they speak to when Dan is standing in their face, a convicted killer, speaking callously about the murder victim.
It speaks to Dan’s entitlement and how he still hasn’t learned in many ways.
Nevertheless, it still remains frustrating that everyone is so willing to sacrifice justice because, as Clay put it, they hate Dan more than Alex.
Clay knew firsthand that Alex had some issues that likely could’ve caused bigger problems and even resulted in her landing in legal trouble or worse, and yet it felt like he was so staunch in his moral argument and high ground that nothing else mattered.
Clay: Alex, it would hurt me a lot, but to help you, Alex, I would give up whatever we are to each other for you not to be in pain.
Alex: We’re nothing.
Clay: Ok, then, whatever we could be.
Alex: Nothing. We’re nothing!
He brought up things about Alex needing help, but in all of this advocation for Alex “posthumously,” there was no help when she was still around.
It makes it feel like everyone can pat themselves on the back for not vilifying her for being mentally ill after the fact when none of them were around to do any of this before she died.
We saw how alienated and isolated she was or how the people around her ran off or fell back. It’s a lot of great talk with no real action, and it feels hollow.
What makes things worse is that they allude to the fact that Alex may not even be dead and pulled off some sick, perverted action of sending Dan to prison for her murder.
What are we supposed to make of that?
Mental illness doesn’t warrant a death sentence, that is certainly the truth. But hating someone doesn’t excuse a miscarriage of justice either.
Mike is the single greatest character in this entire series, and I love every damn second of his screen time.
Dan is at his most likable when he and Mike are just bros together, getting high, investigating, and bickering. I could watch an entire side series of them as private investigators and all the antics that come with that.
Ellen is very much underused. It seemed like we would get more in-depth with how Dan’s imprisonment impacted her life, but she’s mostly become filler.
Her fixation on her advisor and friend’s affair feels too on the nose with all of her other Jung fixations and parallels to her father’s case and past.
Alex’s treatment of Emma was so brutal and upsetting because the poor woman prioritized her daughter over Alex. Did none of the cops speak to Emma extensively since she knew Alex was alive when Dan left?
Over to you, Fatal Attraction Fanatics.
What are your thoghts on the line they’re trying to toe between Dan and Alex as victims? What was your impression of Clay? Was the investigation into Alex’s murder handled poorly? Hit the comments below!
Fatal Attraction streams Sundays on Paramount+
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You’ll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on Twitter.