I Am The Night Season 1, Episode 5 Recap: Real Evil Is Tricky

Photo: Courtesy of TNT.
This show started with the question: Who is Fauna Hodel? By episode 5, the show has pivoted to a new question. Who is Tamar Hodel? She’s been looming over the show since its beginning, especially because she’s Fauna’s missing mother. Remember in the premiere when Fauna discovered her own birth certificate? Now, she finally gets to learn about her past via Tamar herself — who happens to be in Hawaii.
The show skips any silly airplane hijinks (a misstep, in my opinion) in favor of drama. Fauna’s departure is traumatic, as Jimmy Lee fights to keep her daughter in California. Jay’s relationship with Fauna has always been a little strange. Are they flirting? Is he in love with Tamar? Are they building some kind of father-daughter bond? To Jimmy, it looks like an coerced romantic relationship, and she’s not having it. Nevertheless, our ever-sneaky Fauna manages to slip out of a window and onto a plane with Jay.
One flight later (the airplane is never shown on screen), they’re sipping Arnold Palmers in Hawaii and doing their best to find Tamar. I Am The Night’s version of Hawaii is some sort of wartime idyll, where soldiers go to relax in bars and there are plants a-plenty. Fauna and Jay quickly get into trouble — this is a common theme for them. Jay is a veteran with PTSD who cannot avoid a fight. Meanwhile, Fauna is young and vulnerable. Thus, there’s a bar fight in this episode in which Jay puts a pool ball in a sock and hurls it at a sailor.
Later, in Jay’s car, Fauna has to comfort Jay regarding Sepp’s death from last week. “He would have killed us,” she pointed out. “God will forgive you.”
“They never talk about how good it would feel,” he replies. Jay is a very troubled man, and I Am The Night has a lot to say about it.
Their relationship gets steadily more affectionate as their trip progresses. In essence, this is their buddy road trip movie. They switch sunglasses, Fauna takes out Jay’s stitches, and they both learn a lot about one another.
When they eventually do find Tamar, they find another Fauna, too. A young girl playing in a field responds to the name Fauna, and ta-da! They’ve found Tamar, who apparently named another child Fauna after she lost her first Fauna. Despite report, Tamar is endlessly stable, although she’s had a tumultuous childhood. And, like the show has promised, Tamar is the key to a lot of truths.
Here’s the first truth: Fauna’s father isn’t Black. Tamar simply said that about her first daughter because she wanted to ensure that Tamar had a community. “I admire Black people so much,” Tamar says, holding her arms out. “Every white person I know is a liar.”
When Fauna questions her mother’s decisions, Tamar lashes out. “You’re ruining our perfect moment!” she says.
Fauna’s parenthood isn’t actually the most bizarre revelation Tamar has in store, though. Tamar is the key to the trial Jay has been trying to unfurl. The big revelation, perhaps of the whole show, is that Tamar was raped by George Hodel, who is, yes, Fauna’s father. In return — and likely accurately — she revealed that her father was the Black Dahlia’s killer.
“You can’t. You haven’t learned that yet?” says Tamar. “The universe protects George.”
Then, she reveals the most important truth: George Hodel killed the Black Dahlia (real name Elizabeth Short). “Everybody knew,” she says. She also claims that George has all of Hollywood in his pocket. He has the police, the film industry, and even the organized crime syndicates. He even to a certain extent has Tamar in his pocket, as he still sends her collections of paintings — which happen to be portraits of his murder victims, Janice Brewster included.
So, just to recap-within-a-recap: George Hodel is a manic murderer-doctor who ran an illegal abortion clinic. Because of this clinic, he was able to control a number of Los Angeles institutions. He raped his daughter Tamar, who then gave birth to Fauna Hodel. Fauna, who apparently had a Black father, was sent to Nevada, where she was raised by Jimmy Lee. All the while, he’s an obsessive painter who does portraits of the women he killed. In short, a wild, bang-up story for a newspaper.
But Peter isn’t the firm-but-kind newspaper editor Jay thought he was. Remember, everyone in this town is under the thumb of George Hodel. In the episode’s most confusing monologue, Peter admits that he is turning Jay — who went all the way to Hawaii for the truth about the Black Dahlia — into the police.
The star of the episode, though, is Golden Brooks, who takes her daughter back into her home with open arms after Fauna discovers the truth of her birth. Weeping and smoking a cigarette, Jimmy Lee is the person in this tangled web who bore the brunt of all the trauma. She raised a traumatized kid who, when she was teen, ran away from home. Now, she’s grappling with a daughter who is in danger of being murdered — Jimmy, realizing that George is on her scent, tells Fauna never to come back to California. And, honestly, she’s right. At this point in the show, I am comfortable telling Fauna, Tamar, Jay, and Jimmy to all go to Hawaii and never come back.
No one can, though. By the end of the episode, Jay is in prison, having been caught by police chief Billis, and Jimmy has been stabbed at least twice by George. Fauna is only 16 and relatively unable to do anything about all of this, but it seems she has no choice. The finale is next week, and there is no one available to get Fauna out of this mess anymore.
The Chris Pine Shrine
Each week, as Chris Pine digs deeper into his role as Jay Singletary, we’ll catalog his best moments here.
Jay: “What do you want? I can’t fight you!”
Jay: “You’re not going to regret this, Peter.”
Peter: “I regret it already.”
Jay: “This is absolutely not what it looks like.”
Jimmy Lee: “What’s it look like?”
Jay: “It looks bad.”

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