Scream Therapy
S2 episode 5 Aired on June 23, 2020

In “Scream Therapy,” episode 205 of Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story, relations between Betty and Dan go from bad to worse, with Dan turning the financial screws on Betty and using the children as pawns while Betty becomes increasingly unable -- and unwilling -- to control her anger.

Betty Plays the Wrong Hand

Instead of taking the kids skiing for the holidays on Dan’s dime, Betty foists them on Dan to put a wrench in his good time alone with Linda. But the plan backfires. Betty is served papers stating that Dan has been awarded the bifurcated divorce (which played out in the first episode) and sole custody. In a letter sent with the papers, Dan explains that her ability to see the children is now predicated on her undertaking a psychiatric program. He also advises her not to use derogatory statements against him, ostensibly for the sake of the kids, as they proceed with court-ordered mediation. 

Dan Makes Betty Pay

When Betty calls the house, though, she is set off by Linda’s voice on the answering machine. From then on, Betty wages her war over the machine, while Dan has his secretary transcribe every word. “That answering machine is my therapy, my primal scream,” she tells her friends when they suggest she stop. Ignoring the court order, Betty also continues to enter the Coral Reef house to wreak havoc on whatever she can lay her hands on, despite the fact that Dan has started deducting funds from her allowance as compensation for the damage. Dan finally makes good on his threat to send Betty to jail. Evelyn offers Betty some cash to tide her over and then tries to reason with Dan, who tells her to focus on her own life.

Legal Counsel

Evelyn helps Betty finally find a lawyer, Hilary. Miraculously, Betty listens to Hilary’s advice to go through with the mandatory psych evaluation, but she ignores her recommendation to stop breaking the conditions of the court order. In Betty’s favor, the judge at the hearing seems unwilling to have his time wasted litigating minor infractions, so Betty continues to skirt the order. Meanwhile, her inability to pay her bills adds to her overall stress. Finally some good news: Hilary tells Betty their request for Betty to have the boys for Easter was granted. Elated, Betty goes all out to prepare, but then Dan takes the boys at the last minute, sending Betty spiraling back into her vortex of rage.

“He’ll Die First”

Betty’s session with the psychiatrist seems promising: the doc indicates that she thinks she can make a case for Betty to get her children back. But then Betty says something threatening about Dan that gives the doctor pause. She asks Betty to return for another session, but their second conversation does not sit well with Betty. She doesn’t want the therapist talking her into sole custody nor does she want to give up her anger, so she cuts the session short and leaves.

Nobody’s Fault But Her Own

Betty then begins to sense that Hilary, whom Betty hasn’t yet paid, has begun to undermine her, by telling her to stop harassing Dan and negotiating directly with him in order to get herself paid. Betty fires Hilary right before the next court appearance, though Hilary still appears by Betty’s side and tries to protect Betty’s interests with the judge. Despite Hilary’s efforts, and taking into account the psychiatrist’s evaluation, the judge upholds the current custody arrangement and sentences Betty to six days in jail. While Betty is locked up, Dan goes down on bended knee to propose to Linda.