Presumed Innocent episode 6 recap: the trial heats up

Jake Gyllenhaal and Bill Camp in Presumed Innocent
Jake Gyllenhaal and Bill Camp in Presumed Innocent (Image credit: Apple TV)

Presumed Innocent episode 6, "The Elements," begins with Rusty (Jake Gyllenhaal) having an out of body experience as Tommy (Peter Sarsgaard) questions Herbert (James Hiroyuki Liao) on the stand. This dream sequence ends with Rusty grabbing hold of Herbert and calling him a "f****** a**hole." Once the cathartic fantasy, Rusty is back on trial for his life. So what else happens?

Tommy botches Herbert's testimony  

Back in reality, Herbert confirms Carolyn Polhemus (Renate Reinsve) died of blood loss after being hit in the head several times. She didn't have time to defend herself, but it's possible Rusty's DNA was under her fingernails because she tried to stop him. However it's more likely she didn't see it coming. He adds Carolyn was pregnant with Rusty's child. 

After briefly considering not asking any follow-up questions, Raymond (Bill Camp) makes Herbert confirm that no thin, heavy object capable of murdering Carolyn was found at the scene of the crime. 

Even though Nico (O-T Fagbenle) quietly tells Tommy not to ask any more questions, the prosecutor can't help himself. Herbert recalls Rusty aggressively visiting him after Carolyn was found, adding he seemed scared and there was "something off about him." Raymond's next questions reveal Herbert thinks Rusty is an a**hole. After more pressing from Raymond, Herbert looses his cool on the stand and makes fun of Raymond for losing his job as District Attorney, all as Judge Lyttle (Noma Dumezweni) bangs her gavel. 

In the car, Nico criticizes Tommy for keeping Herbert on the stand, insisting their witness now looks aggrieved and grudge-bearing. But Tommy insists it was an important testimony and his input is the first piece of a bigger puzzle that will result in Rusty being found guilty. Nico asks Tommy why the first report didn't show Rusty's DNA under Carolyn's fingernails?

Barbara wants to be truthful

Raymond and Mya (Gabby Beans) ask Barbara (Ruth Negga) to improve her body language to constantly show the jury she loves and believes in Rusty. Mya explains trials come down to storytelling, the best version wins, and Barbara's fury is only going to hurt. 

Barbara admits it's difficult to be in the courtroom, but she needs to be truthful and not act, otherwise the jury will see through her. She's not going to pretend this isn't the darkest hour of her life. At the start of the next day, Rusty puts his arm around Barbara as they enter the courtroom. 

Later, Barbara tells Rusty about kissing Clifton (Sarunas J. Jackson), insisting that's all that happened. Rusty asks why she's telling him this now. She wanted to be honest with him. An irate Rusty says Barbara has been grinding him over every detail about the trial and asks how it feels to make a mistake. When she goes to leave, he grabs her aggressively and scares her. 

The next morning, Barbara refuses to come to the trial. 

Barbara tells Lorraine (Elizabeth Marvel) she was honest with Rusty because she felt they were getting close and connecting again. She says she skipped the trial because they're going through all of the communications between Rusty and Carolyn. This includes the 30 texts he sent her on the day of her death. Barbara thinks that's the most damning part of the case. 

Later, Rusty asks Barbara why she has stayed with him. She says it's the same reason as Rusty. 

Elizabeth Marvel and Ruth Negga in Presumed Innocent

Elizabeth Marvel and Ruth Negga in Presumed Innocent (Image credit: Apple TV)

Does Rusty's DNA matter? 

A forensic pathologist says it was curious not to find Rusty's DNA on the rope that tied up Carolyn. It's rare to find a scene so bloody and messy yet with no evidence. Someone must have fastidiously cleaned the scene. His opinion is there was a sudden act of murderous rage followed by a methodical act of tying her up. 

Under Raymond's questioning, the pathologist goes into the similarities between Liam Reynolds' (Mark Harelik) murder of Bunny Davis. Raymond tries to dive into it more, only for Judge Lyttle to insist on more evidence if she's going to allow Raymond to discuss Liam in front of the jury. 

Raymond changes the line of questioning to make it clear that Rusty's DNA could easily have got under Carolyn's fingernails when she stroked his face or body while kissing. 

Tommy is in trouble

Eugenia (Virginia Kull) recalls finding Rusty and Carolyn kissing in his office one night, then recalls spotting them arguing in the parking lot, and another occasion when she told Rusty she was worried he was becoming obsessed with Carolyn. When Mya questions her, Eugenia reveals she didn't approve of the affair and didn't like Carolyn. She then reveals that while Carolyn didn't complain about Rusty to HR, she did complain about one person in the courtroom… Tommy Molto. 

This forces Tommy to question Eugenia. She says Carolyn didn't want to work on any cases with Tommy because he gave her the ick, but she never saw anything unprofessional between them. Tommy makes Eugenia confirm her testimony is that Rusty seemed obsessed and was losing himself with Carolyn. 

At Tommy's home, we learn he lives alone with cats. 

Michael's testimony 

Raymond admits to Lorraine that if the jury sticks to the burden of proof, he likes how the case is going. But if they need someone to pin the murder on, they'll find Rusty guilty. 

Judge Lyttle tells Raymond, Rusty, Nico and Tommy the way the trial is going, a conviction of voluntary manslaughter and eight years in jail seems most reasonable. Both Tommy and Rusty immediately reject it. 

As the trial progresses, the judge reminds both sides to tread carefully with Michael Caldwell (Tate Birchmore), especially as his father Dalton (Matthew Alan) has already tried to stop him from testifying. 

When Tommy questions Michael he immediately brings up how traumatic this experience must be. Michael says he would go to Carolyn's house to watch sometimes, because he wanted to see the life she didn't want him to be a part of. 

During questioning, Michael says he met with Rusty because he wanted to look into the eyes of the man who murdered his mother. He says it twice. Both times Judge Lyttle sustains Raymond's objections, reminding Michael not to offer his impressions as facts. Michael then says Carolyn told him she was becoming scared of a man at work and that he believed that man was Rusty. 

When Raymond questions Michael he suddenly stops midway through and collapses. Rusty immediately starts to perform CPR. A defibrillator is then brought in. Rusty consoles Lorraine as a doctor tries to save Raymond's life on the courtroom floor.

New episodes of Presumed Innocent premiere on Apple TV Plus every Wednesday.

Gregory James Wakeman

Born and raised in England but now based in Philadelphia, Gregory Wakeman has written for the BBC, New York Times, The Guardian, GQ, and Yahoo Movies UK, all while defiantly trying to keep his accent.