What does a TV show — an ostensibly fictional one — do when the prospect of the Black Dahlia murder arrives? That’s the question plaguing the finale of I Am The Night, which also finds all of the lurid show’s characters in dire situations. Jay (Chris Pine) is in jail, at the mercy of Billis (Yul Vazquez), Fauna (India Eisley) is abandoned, and Jimmy Lee (Golden Brooks) has just been stabbed by George Hodel (Jefferson Mays). All of this is due to George Hodel who, we discovered in last week’s episode, raped his daughter Tamar and likely killed Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia.
This is all happening amid the backdrop of the August 1965 Watts riots, as racial tensions boil over in Los Angeles. The riots end up being integral to the show’s final narrative. When Fauna needs a ride to see Corinna (Connie Nielson), Terrence (Justin Cornwell) is hesitant to get in his car with a white woman. Fauna rides in the trunk instead. Later, Jay finds himself sharing the jail with a few detained rioters.
“Burning down your own neighborhood,” Jay muses. “I can dig that.”
After her truck ride, Fauna finds herself sipping lemonade with Corinna. Moments later, she’s on the floor, blacking out. Never sip lemonade at the home of a mysterious wealthy woman. She wakes up with the one and only George Hodel. It’s like she’s meeting a celebrity. A dark celebrity who apparently murdered multiple women and engaged in both statutory and incestual rape.
He’s undeterred by the rumors, though.
“You must think I’m Lucifer himself,” George says to Fauna. He calls Jay a “muckraker” and a “yellow journalist” and dismisses the claims. Then, finally, he reveals that he sued Jay for libel and won.
George Hodel is still mostly a mystery, but at least one thing is clear: He’s a snob. He refers to abstraction as ‘faddish’ and laments the fact that Fauna had to grow up with such “simple” minds. Early in the episode, a young George is shown playing the piano robotically. Then, a piano teacher complains that George plays with “no emotion.” George will never never be an artist, he says. It seems George took this as a twisteda challenge George is a psychopath, as the teacher suggested, but he’s also an artist of sorts.
With Jay in jail and Jimmy in the hospital, Fauna’s only hope happens to be Billis, Vazquez’s corrupt policeman. I love a last minute turn, as does Jay. Should he pivot from journalist to filmmaker? I guess he kind of already did!
Jay’s plan is bananas, though. He wants to be released from prison so that he can go kill George Hodel. Once he kills George, he’ll confess to the murder of Janice Brewster. Two birds, one stone: Billis gets to catch a “murderer on the loose,” and a real murderer gets free.
“I was supposed to be a journalist,” Jay mutters, looking at the knife. What a wild tale this cover story would be! Imagine if he were able to sell his story into a massive cover story.
On his way out of the prison, Jay rides in the back of a cop car next to two police officers wielding batons and rifles; the riots are still happening.
Now that we know George is most definitely bad, the question of the hour is whether or not he’ll kill Fauna, his granddaughter and daughter. She eventually ends up in his portrait studio, clad only in a satin slip, and things look very grim. George first slaps Fauna, then later pulls out a gun. It’s very clear that Fauna is in danger of dying. But! In episode 5, Jay slipped a pool ball into a sock and uses it to thwack a soldier. In this episode, Fauna learns from her forebears and does the same, whacking her father/grandfather with a sock-ball — a weapon apparently called a “madball.”
Fauna really gets the best of her grandfather/father, though, with thoughtful art critique. She calls him a “cliche” and “kitschy.”
“You’re a cliche, just like a pimp, raping his own daughter,” she spits in her final screed.
Jay arrives just after she walks away. Furious and rabid (as he has been for this entire series), Jay has a fit, punching art in George’s home. The man he wanted to get has escaped his grasp.
The fate of the story is the only lingering questions .After all that, Fauna doesn’t mind having her name in the story, she says. Jay doesn’t write it. Instead, he goes to Hawaii, right where he once found answers about George Hodel. Fauna, who is now officially dating Terrence, writes him letters, asking him to forgive himself. Would that life were that easy.
The Chris Pine Shrine
Each week, as Chris Pine digs deeper into his role as Jay Singletary, we’ll catalog his best moments here.
Needless to say, Chris Pine’s greatest moment of this show was when he rode a surfboard in the Hawaiian ocean.