In episode two, “The Turtle and the Alligator,” of Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story, we take a trip both backward -- to see several important moments and milestones in Dan and Betty’s marriage -- and forward in time, to witness a few key testimonies from Betty's trial for the murder of her ex-husband, Dan... and his wife, Linda.
When Dan Met Betty...
Sparks fly when young Betty is approached by a soon-to-be medical student named Daniel Broderick III in a college bar. They begin to date and their romance blossoms while both of them attend school in New York. Despite Dan’s frequent proposals, Betty won’t marry him until she graduates the local college she’s attending while living at home with her strict parents. On their wedding day, Marita, Betty’s mother, voices her misgivings about Dan, but Betty defends him. As early as their first day being married, however, Dan shows early signs of his intention to keep Betty in her place.
It’s All About the Image
Making ends meet as a couple just starting out isn’t easy. Dan drives a taxi while he does his hospital rotations and Betty works as an elementary schoolteacher, a job she loves but has to quit once her pregnancy becomes obvious. While she waitresses and raises their infant daughter, whom she has to dress in second-hand clothes, Dan spends what little money they have to elevate himself in the eyes of his peers. During this time, Betty suffers a miscarriage. When Dan announces that he no longer wants to be a doctor and rather become a medical malpractice lawyer instead—even though they now have a second child on the way—Betty supports his decision. How she can say no to him going to Harvard?
“Image. Confidence. Success.”
Life in Boston proves to be no easier, with a busted water heater in their apartment, Dan working even harder to prove himself among his elite classmates, and Betty enduring a third, even more torturous pregnancy. Between being sick all the time and barely being able to afford their two daughters, Betty suggests having an abortion, but Dan is against it, so she soldiers on. While Dan is away skiing in Aspen to “make connections,” Betty calls 911 to take her to the emergency room but their baby boy doesn’t survive.
A Model Wife
When Dan lands a job at a prestigious law firm in San Diego, Betty does her part by stepping into the role of the consummate wife, mother, homemaker and hostess. She is immediately accepted into the circle of law firm wives, one of whom, Yvonne, confides in Betty that all their husbands eventually let the greed change them for the worse. After some years plugging away, Dan begins to feel that he isn’t being rewarded for his work. Betty suggests that he start his own firm, which will be a struggle especially now that they have three children, but they both agree it’s worth it. After their fourth baby is born, Betty asks Dan if she can get her tubes tied since they don’t use contraception and she gets so sick every time. He seems to agree.
Flashing forward to a courtroom in San Diego, a detective, Yvonne, Betty’s friend Janet, and her father Frank testify to what they know about a fatal shooting on the morning of November 5, 1989. After the shooting Betty had been distraught. She had called Yvonne, Janet and her father, though each of them seemed to get different, incoherent details from Betty about what had happened. The detective states that Betty fired five rounds. Two went astray, one each was found in Dan and his wife’s Linda’s body…and the fifth was found in Linda’s body at the morgue.