McMillions, the six-part HBO documentary, continues with its fourth episode aptly titled, “Episode 4.” The previous episode left viewers on a serious cliff-hanger. After finding out about her husband’s mistress, Robin Columbo had to decide whether or not to leave Jerry Columbo who at this point was actively running the McDonald’s Monopoly scam with Jerome Jacobson. Robin swears Jerome was Uncle Jerry and despite knowing more about the two men, it is unclear exactly who had taken the role of Uncle Jerry.
“Episode 4” starts by giving more insight into Jacobson. Marsha Derbyshire’s, Jacobson’s former wife, interview details how quickly Jacobson’s temper could turn. The man became abusive to her and her children which led to their split. Robin adds to the testimony, also believing Jacobson to be a bad man. Throughout the series, Robin always believed Jacobson to be Uncle Jerry. After a serious car accident, Columbo died leaving many, including Robin and Columbo’s brother, to wonder if it was a set-up.
Columbo’s death shook his family and deeply impacted their lives, including his son Francesco. During the episode, Francesco, who was two at the time of his father’s death, speaks about his father. “Episode 3” and now “Episode 4” both give weight to the intensity of the situations. It also helps to give context to the complex relationships Columbo had, proving no one is all good or bad. Despite their differences, Robin struggled after Columbo’s death and turned to petty theft to get by. According to her, Uncle Jerry never even called to check-in. Additionally, Columbo’s brother, who had some of the McDonald’s ticket he got from Columbo’s house, decided to stop the scam, hoping it would end with Columbo’s death.
The latter half of the episode follows the FBI as they begin to put more pieces together in hopes of finally connecting everything to Jerome Jacobson. Jacobson quickly filled Columbo’s spot and has time went on became more and more ruthless. The episode introduces to new winners as well as the new middleman who take Columbo’s place. By focusing on more innocent victims and reluctant middlemen, “Episode 4” paints a clearer picture of how the criminal activity effected those closest to the case. Additionally, while previous episodes at a much lighter tone, this one and the last focus on the dark side of these criminals primarily their greed. The episode ends on a serious cliff-hanger as the FBI has to decide whether or not to get involved in a potential altercation or continue with the investigation.
The best part of McMillions is the fact the documentary uses so much real footage from the events. Whether it be undercover interviews or surveillance footage, the reliance on real footage over reenactments grounds the story. While there are so moments that are reenacted, they are few and far between and never take viewers out of the action like other documentaries who rely on them. The final scenes of “Episode 4” brilliantly cut between reenactment and real surveillance footage.
McMillions is an engaging look at one of the strangest white-collar cases in modern history. Each episode has added tension and over the course of the first four, the series as changed in its tone. While usually, that would be a major mark against a series, here it helps to shed light on how a different point of view can drastically change the stakes. However, it can still be confusing to cut back from a laughing FBI agent after speaking to a heartbroken victim or middleman still reeling from their decision to be involved. Nonetheless, McMillions has me on the edge of my seat waiting for the next installment.
McMillions is streaming now on HBONow with new episodes dropping Mondays at 10:00 pm EST.
- Rating - 8.5/108.5/10
McMillions’ “Episde 4” is another engaging look at one of the strangest white-collar cases in modern history. However, the tone can still be confusing to cut back from a laughing FBI agent after speaking to a heartbroken victim or middleman still reeling from their decision to be involved.