Never Let Him Go Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
Through archival footage, especially family video shot by Steve in the late 1980s, we learn that the Johnson family — Scott, Steve and their older sister Terry — were very close, having been born to a young mother who raised them on her own after a divorce. Scott and Steve were exceedingly smart, and both were shy and reserved through high school. Scott ended up at Caltech studying mathematics, eventually making his way to Cambridge, then the Australian National University in Canberra.
During that time, Scott fell in love with a fellow grad student and came out to his family. This is in the early ’80s, where being publicly out was a lot more risky, due to a rash of violence against gays. Of course, the AIDS epidemic also started during that time, as Steve’s wife Rosemarie points out.
In Australia, Scott found a growing gay bar scene in Sydney, three hours away from the capital. But in December, 1988, the 27-year-old was found naked at the bottom of a cliff in the nearby town of Manly. The constable who was called to the scene and wrote up the case didn’t find any evidence that pointed away from suicide, and Scott’s partner mentioned in interviews that Scott had considered killing himself in previous months, something Steve and his sisters — including their half-sister Becca, who grew close to Scott when she was a kid — refused to believe.
Because of the length of Steve Johnson’s quest to prove that his brother was killed instead of taking his own life, Never Let Him Go is one of the few docuseries that can justify its four-hour length. But the show’s directors wisely weave Scott Johnson’s story in with the initial phases of the investigation into his death. When at first it seems like Steve Johnson looks like a grieving brother who just can’t be convinced his brother took his own life, it quickly becomes apparent that there’s more to the story.
There was a 13-year period, between 1988 and 2001, when the case was more or less cold, and Rosemarie admitted that she and Steve spent the time living their lives and raising their family. We were a bit curious to see what might have been roiling in Steve’s mind during that period; he certainly never forgot about what happened to his brother, but it seems like whatever effort he made during that time was stonewalled by law enforcement in New South Wales.
The emotions involved in how Johnson kept the hope for justice alive, however, are readily apparent during his interviews, and the memories of Scott build a picture of a shy, brilliant guy who could have gone onto an amazing career if he hadn’t been killed.
The three other episodes will examine how the deaths of other gay men in the same location causes law enforcement to reopen all the cases, and just what the extent of violence against gays in Sydney was during that time period. There’s also going to be tension between Johnson and the police, in yet another example of how law enforcement had blinders on when dealing with then-marginalized communities. But the first episode goes over more than enough of the basics of Scott Johnson’s case to persuade us to want to watch more.