‘Love And Death’ Ending, Explained: How Did Don Crowder Prove Candy Montgomery Innocent?

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When we were first introduced to Candy Montgomery at the beginning of Love and Death, we could have never imagined that the delicate and graceful woman, coming from a church-going family, could have brutally murdered somebody in the most bizarre manner. The series also told us one more thing that no matter how uncomplicated and conforming a person might look like, what happens inside their minds can never be ascertained completely. We could have never imagined that Candy could have approached somebody in such a straightforward manner for an extramarital affair and been so casual about it. There is no justification as to why of all the people, it was Allan that caught her attention. She just felt something in the spur of the moment, and she followed her heart after that. Candy and Pat’s relationship had become quite mundane, and the latter had stopped paying attention to her, which could have been one of the triggering factors why Candy felt like going out with other men. But still, Pat cannot be blamed for everything that happened, and a lot had to do with the kind of sensibilities Candy had. Allan and Betty’s relationship, on the other hand, was also not going smoothly at this point in time. Betty was either anxious or paranoid most of the time, and she was just not at peace whenever Allan was not around her. 

The air was tense as Candy Montgomery was going to come to the witness stand for the first time in Love and Death episode 7. She had somehow managed to keep her nerves under control using all sorts of pills, but Don Crowder wanted her to be in her senses and completely understand the implication that her words could have on the outcome of the case. Don knew that the odds were not in his favor, as the media had already given its judgment, and the public, too, didn’t believe that Candy had acted merely in self-defense. Don was finding it hard to justify why she had hit Betty 41 times, and had that not been the case, he wouldn’t have had any difficulty whatsoever. The stage was set for an epic showdown in the Love and Death season finale, and both parties knew that it was a rather close call, and that the outcome could be in anyone’s favor.


What Happened During Candy’s Testimony?

Don Crowder, since the time he got to know that Candy was taking certain pills to calm herself, was a bit nervous about bringing her to the witness box. He knew that one wrong move could take the case out of their hands. The thing was, the prosecutor, Tom O’Connell, was equally competent and a brilliant lawyer, and in order to stand in court against him, Don had to put forth his best game. His arguments, his presentation, his conviction—everything had to be perfect in order to make the jury believe that his client, Candy Montgomery, had acted in self-defense. Don had prepared Candy, and he wanted her to be more expressive and show her grief because he believed that if the jury saw that impassive face, then they would assume that she was not affected by the incident. Don asked her questions, and Candy gave the perfect answers.

For the first time in the series Love and Death, the makers show Betty being assaulted by Candy, and the mere sight of it sends shivers down our spines. After witnessing that bloodied and battered affair, we don’t know how Candy was able to recollect herself and not become insane. Candy was smeared in blood, and she went to the restroom to wash herself. She told all those things to the court and didn’t shy away from telling the jury what she exactly felt in those moments. Don belonged to a category of lawyers who believed that to be successful in the legal profession, one must not only know the law but also how to put on a show. He believed in the susceptibility of the jury, and that is why he felt that one should have a flair for the dramatic, as it worked more often than not. Don brought the murder weapon, i.e., the ax, in front of Candy, and she just couldn’t look at it and turned away her face, crying. Don’s work was done. He had been able to show the jury that Candy was a human; she was traumatized by what had happened, and in addition to that, the law enforcement authorities and even the prosecution had not been able to prove that she had attacked Betty Gore first and not acted in self-defense.

It felt like Don would win the round, but Tom was able to raise doubts in the minds of the jury by revealing that Candy’s sunglasses were found in the garage where the Gore family kept their ax. Candy was not sure how this had happened because she had claimed earlier that she had never seen their garage, and even during the fight, the door that led to it was closed. Candy changed her statement and said that during the fight, she did open the door that led to the garage, but then she could not leave as Betty caught hold of her. Tom also tried to establish that throughout the confrontation, Candy had a chance of fleeing, but she didn’t, which in itself was quite strange. Candy, in her defense, said that Betty had blocked her way, and she made sure that Candy didn’t escape. After Candy’s cross-examination in Love and Death episode 7, Don knew that Tom had managed to tip the scales in his favor and that he had no option but to bring Dr. Fason for cross-examination.


What Did Dr. Fason Reveal About Candy’s Childhood?

Dr. Fason made very interesting remarks in Love and Death Episode 7, about Candy and how he felt that she couldn’t have gone there with the intention of killing Betty. He said that during the act, a portion of her personality was sort of cut off from her consciousness, and she no longer knew what she was doing. In simple terms, she dissociated herself from her actions and then later pretended like they had never happened in the first place. He said that the point to be noted here was that she was not only lying to the world, but she was also lying to herself as she was not ready to face reality. Dr. Fason went on to add that during the age-regressing session he had with Candy, he came to know that she disliked violence and cared a lot about what others thought of her. An example of this trait we had seen in the previous episodes of Love and Death was when Candy confronted Allan because she thought that Betty was saying things about her in public. The doctor said that she had experienced the dissociative reaction for the first time when she was 4 years old, when her mother was taking her to the hospital after she had gotten hurt. Her mother was constantly telling her to stop crying, as it seemed like she was more concerned about what people would say than what her daughter was feeling. Candy had blocked out those experiences, and she had no conscious memory of them. Dr. Fason’s testimony dealt a huge blow to the prosecution’s case, and no matter how much Tom tried to nullify it, it was not easy to dismiss speculations of an expert and call them irrational or baseless.


Why Didn’t The Jury Find Candy Guilty Of Murder?

Don Crowder was prepared to appeal against the judgment, as he somewhere knew that the jury would find Candy Montgomery guilty of murdering Betty Gore. The jury came to a decision rather quickly, and to everybody’s surprise, they ruled in favor of Candy Montgomery and found her not guilty. Candy broke down in the court itself, and she took a sigh of relief as Don Crowder had done the impossible. The judgment was obviously speculative in nature, as nobody could have known what actually happened on June 13, 1980. The things that went in favor of Candy were the botched-up investigation by the police and the lack of any solid evidence to prove that Candy was the one who went to the garage to take the ax and that she had arrived at the Gore’s house with an intention to kill. Also, Dr. Fason’s testimony played a key role, as he spoke in definitive terms, and the kind of theory he put forth in court was not easily refutable. We can say that it was a great move on the part of Don Crowder to have taken Candy to the doctor in the first place. 

One weird thing that we noticed towards the end of Love and Death was that Allan was really unaffected by whatever developments happened during the trial, and even after the outcome was declared, he didn’t show any emotions. For a moment, even Tom O’Connell felt as if he just wanted the entire thing to get over with, and he didn’t care if Candy was proven guilty or not. It is shown in the series that Allan was already having an affair while the trial was going on, and though we are not blaming him for anything; it just showed that he had stopped loving his wife a long time before the incident had happened. Candy, before leaving the town, met Allan one last time and told him how sorry she was for whatever had happened, and once again, Allan just acted like he was least interested in talking about the case or knowing what anybody had to say. 


Final words

Pat and Candy Montgomery moved to Georgia in the hope of starting over, but their marriage didn’t last long, and they filed for divorce. After the divorce, Candy went on to work as a family therapist, and both Pat and she stayed in Georgia itself. Allan Gore married a woman named Elaine Williams almost immediately after Betty’s death, and his kids were taken by Betty’s parents. Allan eventually divorced Elaine, married a third time, and started living with his wife in Maine.

Don Crowder committed suicide on November 10, 1998, as he was suffering from a lot of mental health issues during that time. He was into substance abuse, and he was often heard saying that the face of Betty Gore still haunted him and gave him nightmares. In the series, we saw that his wife came up and told him that she didn’t like the way he made allegations and tainted the reputation of Betty Gore when he knew that it couldn’t have been true, most probably. She said that his actions would come back and rot him from within, but Don said that he had done a lot of things that would weigh on his consciousness, and even if he hadn’t taken Candy’s case, it wouldn’t have helped his cause.

We thoroughly enjoyed Love and Death, and this is the kind of drama we would love to watch more of. A special shoutout has to be given to Elizabeth Olsen and Jesse Plemons, who play the roles of Candy Montgomery and Allan Gore, respectively. Even when we knew what the outcome would be, Love and Death left its impact and held our attention throughout the course of the narrative.


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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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