‘The Staircase’ on HBO Max: Episode 8 Release Date and Your Questions Answered

HBO Max’s new drama miniseries The Staircase tells a gripping story about the life of writer Michael Peterson and the suspicious death of his wife Kathleen.

The series premiered on May 5 and episode 7 arrived this week. If you’ve gotten caught, you may have questions about when we can put our real crime detective hats back on for Episode 8, or what happened in Peterson’s real-life trial. We are here with answers.

Covered in books, podcasts, and an acclaimed Netflix 2004 documentary of the same name as the HBO show, the high-profile 2001 case continues to spark debate and theories.

If you haven’t seen episodes 1 through 7 of HBO’s The Staircase, beware: there are some spoilers below.

When will episode 8 of The Staircase air?

The eighth and final episode of the miniseries arrives on June 9.

How can I watch the documentary?

The 2004 documentary, also known as The Staircase, is streaming on Netflix. Directed by French documentary filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, it originally aired as an eight-episode miniseries, but Netflix added two sequels from the director, as well as three additional follow-ups. Some consider it one of the best true crime documentaries Outside.

The new HBO Max drama will be directed by Antonio Campos, who started the project in 2008. The show is a co-production between HBO Max and Annapurna Television and is written and produced by Campos and Maggie Cohn.

How do the show and the documentary relate?

Interestingly, the filming of the 2004 Staircase documentary is part of the story in HBO’s new show Max, starring actor Vincent Vermignon as documentarian de Lestrade. We see the crew start filming Peterson in Episode 2.

The HBO Max series isn’t just based on material from the documentary. It also draws on books and reports on the case. However, viewers of the dramatized show and doc will discover similarities between the two. The testimony we hear in Episode 4 from Kathleen’s sister Candice, Dr. Deborah Radich and others, for example, reflects what is shown in the document.

What happened in practice?

On December 9, 2001, rescuers found 48-year-old businesswoman Kathleen Peterson dead at the bottom of a staircase at her home in Durham, North Carolina. Her husband, novelist Michael Peterson, told 911 operators that Kathleen had accidentally fallen down the stairs. Still, he was charged with murder before the month was up.

In an autopsy report released in 2002, lead pathologist Deborah Radich concluded that Kathleen’s cause of death was due to “severe concussion caused by multiple blunt forces to the head. … The number, severity, locations and orientation of these injuries are not consistent with a fall from the stairs; instead, they are indicative of multiple blows from a beating.”

The actual trial lasted three months in 2003, making it one of the longest trials ever in North Carolina. Prosecutors alleged that Michael beat Kathleen to death, and the defense alleged that she accidentally fell down several flights of stairs. Michael’s sex life became public during the trial. Scroll down a little further for more facts on the case. (But keep in mind that there are spoilers for the show).

Who are the main characters in HBO Max’s The Staircase?

There are many characters in this new version of The Staircase. If you’ve been trying to figure out who’s who in Michael and Kathleen’s large family, you’re not alone.

Let’s start with the kids.

Sophie Turner and Odessa Young star as Margaret and Martha Ratliff, Michael Peterson’s adopted daughters, who sided with him after Kathleen’s death. Olivia DeJonge plays Caitlin Atwater, the real-life daughter of Kathleen Peterson and her ex-husband Fred Atwater. Caitlin eventually gave evidence on the prosecution’s side.

Patrick Schwarzenegger and Dane DeHaan play Todd and Clayton Peterson, the real sons of Michael from his first marriage to Patricia Peterson.

Rosemarie DeWitt and Maria Dizzia play Kathleen’s real-life sisters, Candace Zamperini and Lori Campbell, and Tim Guinee plays Michael’s brother, Bill.

And of course Colin Firth is Michael, and Toni Collette is Kathleen on the show.

Who was Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Ratliff and how did she die?

At the end of Episode 3 of HBO Max’s The Staircase, we learn a little more about the death of Elizabeth “Liz” Ratliff. Here’s what we know about the real events.

Elizabeth Ratliff, a family friend of Michael Peterson and his first wife, Patricia, died in 1985, just two years after her husband, George.

An autopsy concluded that Elizabeth died of a brain haemorrhage. After Elizabeth’s death, Michael and Patricia took in Ratliff’s two daughters, Martha and Margaret. When Michael moved in with Kathleen in 1989, Martha and Margaret went with him.

Before Michael’s murder trial began, it was revealed that Elizabeth Ratliff, like Kathleen, had been found dead at the bottom of a staircase. Prosecutors had exhumed Ratliff’s body, and pathologist Deborah Radisch performed an autopsy in North Carolina (Radische also performed Kathleen’s autopsy). She concluded that Ratliff’s cause of death was murder.

Major Spoilers: Where Is Michael Peterson Now?

In 2003, a jury found Michael Peterson guilty of murder after a three-month trial and sentenced him to life in prison. However, Superior Court judge Orlando Hudson (who oversaw the original trial) granted Peterson a new trial in 2011 after discovering that blood spatter analyst Duane Deaver had misled him and the jury. Peterson was released on bail.

Peterson’s official release came in 2017 after he filed an Alford plea, allowing him to plead guilty while maintaining his innocence. Today, he still lives in Durham, according to the Raleigh News and Observer.

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