Linda Kolkena (Rachel Keller) enters the picture while Dan slowly pushes a frenzied Betty Broderick out of his life.
Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Episode Four ” More To It Than Fun,” directed by Maggie Kiley, is the most linear episode to date. The episode focuses on Dan Broderick’s affair with Linda and his plan to begin divorce proceedings. “More To It Than Fun” is framed by testimony by a divorce & infidelity psychologist whose left unnamed. He illustrates how Betty Broderick felt when her husband gaslit her.
“More To It Than Fun” does a great job humanizing Linda. The Betty Broderick Story could have easily shown Kolkena in the background or not given her any screen time, but throughout this episode, she has scenes that show she was a young woman with dreams. When Dan hires Linda as a paralegal, she practices her typing over and over until she doesn’t make any mistakes. She is so thrilled when she is provided with her own office. At the start of the episode, we see Linda admire Dan from a distance, but she never makes any moves on him. The show does not make her the villain of this story. Dan seduces his paralegal, pretending that Betty is okay with the affair. In truth, it seems like Dan tries to find any excuse to leave Betty since she is no longer any use to him.
The Psychologist makes the perfect analogy describing the victim of the infidelity as a pressure cooker ready to explode as the husband refuses to admit to his affair. To Betty, at first glance, her husband appears to be trying to mend their marriage. He is coming home earlier, acting kinder, and even still having sex with her. But Betty’s instincts are telling her that Dan is sleeping with Linda. Meanwhile, everybody in her life, including Dan, tells Betty that nothing is happening. Betty acts crazed because her friends will not believe her, and Dan continues his suspicious behavior.
Betty tries to fight for Dan by dressing up in a gown and bringing flowers to his law office for his birthday. She hopes her gorgeous appearance will lead to a romantic birthday night. But when Betty comes to Dan’s office, she finds the secretary and some leftover cake, but Dan is not there. Betty waits for hours, but her husband never returns. She storms back to their home and burns the majority of his suits.
That night, Dan wanders into the backyard where Betty, still in the gown, watches his possessions burn. Betty angrily confronts him about why he was out of his office most of the day. He makes some excuse about having had lunch with Linda and other lawyers, then spending the rest of the day at the courthouse. Dan, pretending to be frustrated, asks how he could prove that he is not cheating on Betty when she seems to want him to be doing it desperately. At this comment, Betty breaks down crying.
Dan prepares to divorce his wife, finding ways he can hold onto his money. The Psychologist explains the only way to release the pressure cooker is for the cheater to admit to his affair then show remorse. Instead, Dan talks to his divorce lawyer colleague. Betty doesn’t suspect that Dan will divorce her. In fact, she thinks that he has stopped cheating on her. They are even purchasing a new home together in Playa Vista.
After Dan declares he wants to legally separate from Betty and moves out of the house, any money he spends, including 150,000 dollars on a new home (which Dan never planned to move into), will get reimbursed from their community funds. In other words, Betty will lose money, but Dan will keep all of his.
The lawyer tells Dan to be compassionate toward Betty. Instead, Broderick insidiously holds his plans close to the vest. First, he tells Betty he needs some space away from the family. He moves out of the house, leaving her alone with the kids. Then the family moves into the new home without Dan. Dan drunkenly comes to have sex with Betty one last time. The next day, he tells her that he is moving back to their old home. Betty takes the kids to their vacation home at Lake Henshaw but quickly becomes overwhelmed by a family of rats living there. Dan refuses to come to help Betty, saying she has credit cards to pay for an exterminator.
Betty punishes Dan by sending the kids back home while she goes to her Dad’s 76th birthday party. She thinks he won’t be able to handle caring for four children. The “punishment” backfires on her. Because she “abandoned” the children, Dan gets full custody of them. Betty remains at the mercy of Dan since she has no legal knowledge and doesn’t know what to do without her family.
When Betty visits the children at their original home, she defaces the property, starting with smashing Dan’s favorite cake all over their bedroom that he now shares with Linda. He secures a court order that only allows Betty to see the children when he is present, so she can’t mess with his possessions. Betty begs Dan to take her back, arguing that they have such a perfect family. Her identity is so wrapped into being Mrs. Broderick that she is unable to see Linda taking her place. Betty presses Dan to admit he was cheating on her when they were together. Dan finally acknowledged that she was right the whole time but showed no remorse.
Episode four masterfully uses the Psychologist’s testimony to explain how Dan’s manipulative actions affected Betty’s mindset. Perhaps if Dan had acted like a compassionate human being toward his ex-wife, she would not have had a mental breakdown and still be alive.