REVIEW: I Am The Night – Episode 2 – “Phenomenon of Interference”

(WARNING!  CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 2 OF I AM THE NIGHT!)

Three words stuck out to me when I watched this episode of I Am The Night, and they came from Fauna Hodel herself: "This is crazy."  When I heard her say that, it felt like she was reading my mind.  I'm not sure there is any other way to feel after watching what she has been putting herself through in these first two episodes.  I am getting a bit ahead of myself, so let's dive a little deeper in to "Phenomenon of Interference".

Fauna is finally able to track down some family in L.A., but is still determined in her quest to find her grandfather and other members of the Hodel family.  Her aunt is very supportive, but also very straightforward.  I really hope we see more of her throughout the rest of the series because Fauna seems like she needs to be centered every now and then.  Fauna's cousin goes with her to George Hodel's house, and it might be the most creepy and uninviting front door that I have ever seen in my life.  It made the gateway to the Upside Down in Stranger Things look like the front steps of Mr. Roger's house.  The cousin didn't want to go in, but Fauna just would not let it go.  She is simply baffled by the fact that her grandfather seems to be ignoring her since inviting her to come to L.A. in the first place.

When she finally gives up, they both go to where the cousin wanted to go in the first place, a party with some friends.  This is where Fauna has her second of two "you're not in Nevada anymore" moments.  The first came when she was witness to police brutality on the way to her grandfather's house.  The second came when her race was called in to question and a predominantly African American party.  She also have a very uncomfortable encounter with another young man at the party, before ending up next to Terrance who was much nicer.  It really feels like this isn't the first and only time that we will be seeing Terrance, as even the aunt says later on that he was a good kid.  It's pretty clear that Fauna is very much out of her league, but she presses on and almost acts like everything that is happening around isn't as bad or as odd as it actually is.  Then that really gets pushed over the edge.

She finally gets her wish, and does get to meet George Hodel's wife Corinna at the Hodel mansion.  To say that this woman is odd is an understatement.  For a while it actually felt like they were having two different conversations.  It also seemed like one minute Corinna says that George is dangerous and the next minute he is a brilliant man.  Fauna's determination leads her to a very unnecessary detour to see one of George's art collections.  Call her naive, call her frustrating or just chalk it up to her being just a kid, it has taken Fauna forever to realize that something is very off about this whole thing.  She seems far more concerned about the mysterious man following her than the family that she keeps pursuing.  Both are very creepy, but it almost seems like it finally clicks when she comes face to face with George Hodel.  Was this a chance meeting or a clever ploy by Corinna?  Hard to say, but she sure does get her out of there quickly.

While all of this is going on, you have Chris Pine's Jay Singletary who is now determined to re-examine the Hodel case all these years later.  We already know this was the case that destroyed his career/life, but his editor is quick to remind him of that.  There is a very heated exchange between the two, and it may be one of the most compelling moments of this up and down episode.  Singletary wears absolutely everything on his sleeve, seeming to keep almost nothing compartmentalized.  At the same time, he now has a new assignment and a choice to make.  Does he try to rebuild his career a little bit at a time or follow his gut on a hunch?  The problem is, he does both throughout pretty much the entire episode.  This seemed like another unnecessary detour, only because there was no real push and pull over the two and it only really lead to a "light bulb moment" for Singletary to point him in the right direction in finding Tamar Hodel.  We also get to see that he has not quick kicked his addiction, as he ends up taking some pills from one of the hookers that he was interviewing for his other case.

The main question of this episode seems to be, "was it all worth it?"  You have to believe that's what Fauna is thinking right now, but what is her alternative at this point?  I'm not sure I would call her sheltered, but she was not prepared to go down such a dark and winding path on her own.  How many girls her age would be?  Then you have Singletary, who keeps going back and forth, never really trusting his instincts when any consistency.  As we are on the verge of their two stories converging, it seems like Fauna and Jay are getting more and more far apart on the emotional spectrum.  It could be that meeting each other, and realizing that they are looking for the same person, may just set them both right.  This show is frustrating to me because it has so much potential, and some great performance, yet lacks any sort of consistence and clear vision.  It's not abnormal for a show to focus on multiple storylines or aspects of a character at once, but I don't feel like significant ground is being made on either of those fronts.  With this being a limited series, I was really hoping that this second episode would provide that clarity.  At the same time, we did get a bit closer to where we want to be, didn't we?  I'm just worried that we will run out of time for the rest of the story to really have an impact.  So much of Fauna being adopted and finding out that she is not really mixed race seems so rushed through, when it seems like there was a chance there for some really amazing story telling opportunities.  As for Jay, it feels like there isn't enough focus on journalism in that era.  Yes there are winks and nods to it, but again it seems like that could be something significant to add to the story.

I like what I'm seeing in bursts, now I want to like what I am seeing completely.  If the goal here is to for me to be as frustrated as our two main characters are, then mission accomplished.  We need more of a lot, and I just hope there is enough time to get that before things are wrapped up.

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