The 42 minute documentary starts off with a very dark, poignant scene. We see a man with his truck [headlights on] shoveling sand. The voice-over is Shan’ann’s, saying how the man digging her grave is “the best thing that’s ever happened to me…”
It’s powerful. It’s not a bad start, but from a technical perspective, it’s not a great start either.
In the opening montage, a man is digging in a nondescript landfill-type setting. It’s not the well site; it looks nothing like it, and there appears to be a big tree somewhere in the picture. Going into the documentary I was wondering whether Anadarko would be mentioned, and if so, how? This very first scene seems to answer that question. The Anadarko stuff will be blacked out and pushed out of the frame.
Now, I like true crime dramatizations. They remind us to think practically about a particular crime scene, and they force us to consider what’s plausible and what isn’t. In the above image the shirt might be close to the right color [pink…orange], and the jeans and boots are right, but it’s doubtful Watts would have dug a grave with the car lights shining on him. There was enough ambient light right then, just after dawn, to know what he was doing without artificial light.
The Trinastich video footage also confirms just how light it was out when Watts pulled out of his driveway, and remember, it was going to be almost another hour after he left before the head of the shovel in the truck nosed into the sand at CERVI 319.
We see a montage of images from Shan’ann’s social media, and a clip from the Sermon on the Porch where Watts speaks into the camera asking Shan’ann, Bella and Ceecee to “just come home…” An image of Watts with Kessinger appears onscreen within the first minute, then some strange dude appears, and then District Attorney Michael Rourke is the first heavy-hitter to make an appearance. Rourke says Watts was saying all the right things, he just wasn’t saying them right. He was just too cold.
Next the program promises to “explore the transformation” Watts made from family man to monster for the next hour [well, 40 minutes and change].
I like the way Diane Dimond refers to Watts early on as “a dichotomy of personalities”. Another way of saying that is a TWO FACE, right? Next large red text appears above another montage.
DOUBLE LIFE REVEALED
After showing the title [at the 2 minute mark], the scene opens with a pump jack and a well site. It’s August 13th, 2018 according to white text superimposed over a local traffic scene.
And then Dimond begins taking the viewer through the spiel – from Nickole Atkinson’s point of view. We see another strange and rather unattractive interloper [playing the role of Nickole] and then we see Steve Wrenn, fingers folded, baseball on his desk, apparently in his office.
Wrenn provides a scintillating insight. “Things weren’t right.” Think about this for a moment. You have the District Attorney appearing in the first minute to say Watts wasn’t acting right, and that everyone could see that [well yes, they could]. Not his deputy is confirming that things weren’t right [yup, that’s what Nickole thought, and…?]
Next the narrative reverts to Rourke. Rourke provides a little insight now. Nickole worked with Shan’ann, for the same company, and they sold the same product. Which company was that? Which products were those? Rourke doesn’t say. This documentary has promised to show how Watts has transformed into monster, right?
A voiceover [flashing to an aerial shot of Phoenix] mentions a business trip and Le-Vel, but that’s it. Nothing about the kind of company, or that it’s a MLM.
Next the narrative deals with the pregnancy and health issues. Now we have another reporter, this time from the Denver Post, providing more overview. Then it’s back to Rourke. Rourke explains what Nickole was doing. Checking her phone, wasn’t Shan’ann supposed to be at a doctor’s appointment, this and that. There’s a lot more to it than that, but this is just lightly ticking the narrative boxes – and 4 minutes have already blown by.
Where’s Nickole though? Is she not giving interviews?
Then there’s a dramatization of Nickole arriving at the Watts home. The Watts home isn’t used, and Nickole’s son and daughter aren’t in the frame. The make of the car [Hyundai Elantra instead of a Mazda GT] looks wrong, where its parked is wrong, but the color is right.
The clothing the Nickole stand-in is wearing is similar to the camouflage shirt Nickole wore, the white glasses propped on her forehead are a match, and the busy-on-the-phone vibe, but where’s her son Nicolas?
Just before 5 minutes, Wrenn is back to tell us Chris Watts worked in the “oil field industry”. Wow. Nice and vanilla.
“He was a supervisor and typically visited various well sites…throughout the day.” Cue a nondescript pump jack.
So far no mention of Anadarko, or the fact that Watts work involved the maintenance of fracking batteries. So far, we’re still getting the vanilla version, an ultra superficial version simply recapping the basic case, with prosecutors interspersed with reporters doing the job of a narrative run-through. Some of the reporters are not terribly affiliated with this case.
Next Nickole’s actual 911 call is played. It’s not the first time it’s even been on television but kudos for at least having something authentic and not necessarily easy to get hold of onscreen.
Then we dive into bodycam footage, with Nicolas appearing but his face smudged out. At 6 minutes, Rourke is back to provide some insight. Coonrod can’t just kick down the door and walk in, and so on and so forth. So far there has been zero reference to any actual text messages or the times they were sent. That’s 6 minutes, that’s enough. Let’s hear some of your thoughts and observations, and if need be I’ll post a follow-up on the rest of the documentary.