“Black Bird” is based on James Keene’s autobiographical novel, “In With the Devil: A Fallen Hero, A Serial Killer, and A Dangerous Bargain for Redemption.” The miniseries has been developed by Dennis Lehane and directed by Michaël R. Roskam, Joe Chappelle and Jim McKay. Taron Egerton plays Jimmy Keane, a businessman, drug dealer, ladies’ man, and the son of ex-cop James “Big Jim” Keene (Ray Liotta). He is arrested for one of the vices mentioned above and sent to prison for 10 years. But FBI officer Lauren McCauley (Sepideh Moafi) gives him the offer to coerce Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser), a murder suspect who is about to be freed, into confessing his crimes in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Episode 1: Recap
“Black Bird” Episode 1 opens with Jimmy talking about the butterfly effect, a girl called Jessica Roach (Laney Stiebing), and how their lives are about to be connected. Then the narrative shifts to Jimmy going out with a bag and a pillow to meet Roger Nevins (Lee Tergesen). The pillow is for Roger, yes. But so are the goodies in the bag because Jimmy is there to deal with a drug shipment that’s gone wrong. It turns out that one of Jimmy’s men, Danny (Stephen Louis Grush), “misplaced” a whole kilo of drugs and tried to blame Roger for sending less. So, Jimmy compensates him, even though things escalate significantly. After a night of revelry, Jimmy is arrested by McCauley and everything from drugs to cash and AK-47s are extracted from his house. And, of course, he is sent to jail.
James pays him a visit and tells him that the prosecutor, Beaumont (Robert Wisdom), wants to make an example of Jimmy because he’s the son of an ex-policeman. He says that, currently, he’s looking at five years if he pleads guilty. Four years for good behavior. So, he does what he’s told to do and, instead of getting five years, he gets ten years in jail. And that understandably causes Jimmy to throw a hissy fit while being dragged away to jail. A time jump of seven months takes place. Jimmy is visited by Beaumont and Lauren. They start talking about the business Jimmy is doing there and how he’s “thriving” there. After beating around the bush for a while, Lauren arrives at the point of transferring Jimmy to another prison to elicit a confession about the precise location of a dead body.
Beaumont says that the man in question, Larry, has apparently killed over 14 women. They’ve been able to connect him to two, and they need to know about the other 12. Lauren reveals that Larry is being kept in a maximum security prison (for the criminally insane) in Springfield, Missouri. Jimmy initially says that he isn’t going to do this for all the money in the world. Beaumont responds to this rejection by saying that if he does this (and gets the details of Patricia Reilter’s body), his sentence will be canceled and he won’t have to spend ten years in jail. Jimmy says “no” again, as if to see Beaumont’s dejected face. Lauren explains that Larry is on his way out into the world, where he might commit heinous crimes again. She gives it one last try and leaves Larry’s file there, urging Jimmy to read it before saying “no” again.
As predicted, Jimmy does go through the file. The narrative shifts to four years ago in Georgetown, Illinois, where Detective Brian Miller (Greg Kinnear) learns about Jessica Roach’s dead body. A potential witness mentions the involvement of a Dodge van. Thirteen months later, Brian finds a report about some pervert asking minor girls to show their private parts. He looks into it and finds out that the owner of the van has been reported three other times in one year. He says that the owner is Larry D. Hall. In the present day, Jimmy talks to his father and says that he’s considering taking the deal. James advises against it because, according to him, that place is for freaks with no souls. He’s afraid that if Jimmy fails to do the task the FBI wants him to do, they’re going to send him to ten more years in jail.
Brian gets in touch with Chris (Carlo Albán) to talk about Larry. Chris says Larry can’t be the suspect because he was far away from the murder site for his Civil War reenactments tour. Brian calls in to ask about Civil War reenactment permits and learns that there was a Revolutionary War reenactment the day before Jessica’s disappearance. Jimmy’s stepmom, Sammy (Robyn Malcolm), visits him in jail and reveals that James has suffered a stroke. When Jimmy starts berating her for not informing him earlier, Sammy gives it back to him by telling him that he’s the reason for James’s stress (that caused the stroke). After they are done arguing, Sammy relays the information that James wants Jimmy to take the deal because he thinks he is going to die in the next three to ten years. Brian calls Chris again, who tells him that Larry is some sort of a serial confessor who admits he has done big crimes to look, well, big.
While waiting for Chris to call back, Brian spots (or imagines) a gray van and imagines Jessica coming towards him from the field. Brian requests Chris to bring Larry in and let him question him. Chris keeps denying that Larry could be the killer, but agrees to set up the meeting with him. Jimmy accepts the deal. Lauren says that that only means he’s one of many inmates who are vying for this job. So, he should keep doing his homework if he wants to nail the interview. Brian arrives to interview Chris, only to find that he’s been grilled by the detectives from Marion for the Patricia Reitler case since the morning. Brian gets Larry to talk about his visit to Georgetown, Illinois. And he starts talking about Dodge Van motor parts and just motor parts in general. After some time, Larry admits that he “dreams” of killing women, while (in the present day), Jimmy continues reading his file.
Episode 2: Recap
“Black Bird” Episode 2, titled “We Are Coming, Father Abraham,” opens with the abduction of a girl in Marion, Illinois in 1993 by someone in a gray Dodge van. Lauren interviews Jimmy about women in order to understand if he can share common ground with Larry and win him over. Then we return to the conversation between Brian and Larry where he mentioned the dreams about killing women. He deviates into something about his twin, Gary (Jake McLaughlin), and how he dreams about falling and drowning. Brian manages to bring the focus back on Larry’s dreams, and he says that he sees them as an out-of-body experience where his physical self is doing the killing. As soon as Brian pulls out the photo of Jessica, Larry says he wants to go home and gets angry. On his way out, Brian notices Larry being all chummy-chummy with the detectives.
Brian meets Lauren to talk about how it seems that the Indiana police are trying to steal the Illinois police’s case. Why? Because the victim is from Illinois, the perpetrator is from Indiana, it’s inconclusive that the killing was done in Illinois, and the body was found in Indiana. The only thing going for Brian is that it seems like the perpetrator crossed state lines to dispose of the body, which makes it a Federal case. Beaumont enters the case to oversee Hall’s interview. In the present day, Jimmy makes an assumption that Lauren is bluffing about having multiple candidates for the job and that she has already chosen him. Lauren promptly deflates him by showing all the candidates she has on her list. After getting called out for his bullcrap, Jimmy starts to get real. Lauren advises him to use this part of his psyche to get to Hall.
As Jimmy begins to ask Lauren about how Jessica was killed, we cut to Hall’s interview with Brian and the polygraph expert, FBI Agent Mark Ellenberg. Brian and Chris leave the room, and Mark starts to break Larry in. Larry refuses to take the poly because he thinks he won’t pass it. Brian gets nervous and breaks the tension by bringing him a glass of water. He tries to sit down for the interview, but Larry asks him to leave. So he does. Then, Larry starts talking about his nightmares, his depression, and feeling lonely. Mark gets him to admit that his repressed feelings about women are the cause of his nightmares. After noticing him agree, Mark pulls out Jessica’s photo and this time he admits to talking to her, abducting her, raping her and killing not just Jessica, but a few others as well. He says he usually buries them all, but he didn’t get the chance with Jessica.
Larry says that the person who has been arrested for the murder of Patricia Reitler isn’t the actual perpetrator because he’s the one who did it. When he gives the details of how he left Reitler’s clothes after killing her, they realize that he is the one. Mark asks for a confession form and a warrant for Larry’s home and vehicle. As Mark rushes to type in the confession, Chris gives a look of realization of how wrong he has been about this case. Brian prints the confession before Larry can call a lawyer and get him to sign it. Jimmy calls James to talk about his health. The FBI turns Larry’s home upside down, and one of the most damning things they find is the uber-clean van, which is supposedly used by Larry to commit his crimes. Lauren interviews Jimmy about Hall once again, and he shows signs of improvement.
Jimmy and Lauren talk about Gary being Larry’s most staunch defender, and we actually see him doing so in front of Brian during the investigation. Lauren advises Jimmy to play a brotherly role in order to get Larry’s attention because that’s what he’s seeking the most. On that note, she takes him to catch the private flight to Springfield. The FBI officers start to teach him what he needs to know before going into prison. Brian sees the Indiana police taking credit for nabbing Larry. Lauren informs Jimmy that he needs to be cautious about approaching Hall and raise no alarms about the fact that he’s a plant. She says that, other than the warden and Dr. Zicherman (Christopher B. Duncan), she herself is her safety line, and she’ll visit him pretending to be his girlfriend. She says that he needs to be low-key so that he doesn’t get any new charges on him or he’ll be stuck there forever.
‘Black Bird’ Episode 2: Ending Explained – How Much Time Does Jimmy Have To Extract The Confession From Larry?
Brian takes Larry away to Illinois, hoping to get him talking about where he has buried the bodies on the way. That backfires as Larry starts to sing the titular song. For a second, it seems like Jimmy is going to try to escape on his way to prison. But, instead, he starts talking about the officers’ lives. The mood changes as soon as he sees the prison, and he says that he doesn’t want to go through with the deal. Jimmy says that he doesn’t trust Beaumont because he has burned him once before. So, he thinks he’s going to do it again. One of the officers tells him that he’s the only person who can ensure that Larry doesn’t walk, and if Jimmy goes through with it, the FBI won’t forget about it ever. A court hearing about Hall’s release plea reveals that Jimmy has less than a month to win Larry over and get the confession.
We finally meet Larry in the present day. CO Carter (Joe Williamson) takes Jimmy to get him ready for his prison time. Ten minutes later, he goes to have lunch and surveys the people in the room. Lauren informs Brian about the whole operation she’s conducting with Jimmy, and he doesn’t react very well to it. James tries to reach Jimmy, but he’s informed that he has been moved. The lights in the prison go out, and Jimmy notices that he’s actually Larry’s neighbor now. They share a brief look, and then Larry recedes into the shadows.