TNT’s I Am the Night
Episode 4: “Matador”
Directed by Victoria Mahoney
Written by Sam Sheridan
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Dark Flower” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Aloha” – click here
At the mansion, the mystery man, Sepp (Dylan Smith), sits playing chess with Dr. George Hodel (Jefferson Mays). He’s lost track of Fauna Hodel (India Eisley), which doesn’t thrill the doc. George has people to see, illegal abortions to perform, and who knows what else. Sepp doesn’t want to “spoil this game” he’s playing with Dr. Hodel. Not the chess— the macabre things they do together as part of his tutelage.
Jay Singletary (Chris Pine) continues to have PTSD flashbacks, seeing dead Korean soldiers he killed in the war. Then, in the middle of the night, he gets a call from Corrina (Connie Nielsen), rambling before hanging up mysteriously. He knows he’s getting closer, yet feels so far off from the truth.
Poor Fauna tries to piece together what happened to her mother, Tamar. She’s not having much luck so far. In the meantime, she gets to know Terrence Shye (Justin Cornwell), who’s struggling with the social and racial landscape of Los Angeles, from his struggles at work to his struggles with transportation.
“I’ll show you something. I’ll tell you something.”
At a diner, Jay meets with his pal Officer Ohls (Jay Paulson), busted down to patrol again from detective after everything recently. The reporter feels bad, but Ohls repeats as he has before: “We‘ll never be even.” Jay gets talking to the old cop patrolling with Ohls, getting to know about the Black Dahlia from an officer who was around back in the day. “He must have hated her,” the old man says re: the man who killed Elizabeth Short. However, Jay thinks it “looks like something else” other than hate.
When Terrence takes Fauna to where Nero was murdered, we get a bit of background on something many assume is part of ‘gangster’ culture, when it’s actually culture black people have carried on from the Ancient Egyptians called libation— the ritual pouring out of liquor we often see for the dead. Fauna’s worried about being followed by Sepp. She’s scared of her slight connection to Nero before his murder, which doesn’t sit easy with Terrence, either. At home, Fauna receives an invitation to a Happening, from Corinna herself, and Jay gets one through Peter Sullivan’s (Leland Orser) connections at the Times. Speaking of Sepp, he’s in the gutters of L.A. preparing a space as if for an art show, hanging one of those black and white masks we saw at Hodel’s party previously.
When Fauna gets to the invitation’s destination she finds a weird art gallery inside, where people are dressed strangely/beautifully with art literally everywhere. She sees Jay, then makes a run for it. She stumbles into a room where Corinna lies back on a stone bench and a woman pours silverware around her, then cuts Corinna’s dress a little, passing the scissors to another woman to make her own cut, and the passing of the scissors continues from one person to the next, each snipping the fabric. When the scissors come to Fauna she throws them to the floor.
Afterwards, Fauna meets Corinna alone. She wants to know more about her family history. The older woman would rather talk about than the truth. Fauna doesn’t care for the Happening, but she’s no slouch, and smart as a whip. She sees through the self-indulgent, artsy nonsense Corinna loves/loathes at once, and ultimately gets no new info. She manages to sneak a look to find a possible address for Tamar in Hawaii.
Before she can get away she’s taken by Sepp. He drags her underground, preparing to make her an artistic piece of murder when Jay saves the day putting his scary skills to use on the would-be killer. The violence causes him to break with reality, taking him back psychologically to the war. They’re able to get out, taking the body with them after nearly getting caught. They dump the corpse. Fauna checks Sepp’s pockets, finding a weird chess piece from the mansion. Once they’re done they go back to Jay’s place, where he tries to get rest all fucked up.
When Jay wakes in the morning he’s already having PTSD flashbacks to murdering Sepp the night before. Fauna found Sepp’s ID, giving them more to go on. This is when she also finds about strange rumours concerning grandpa’s “abortion clinic.” She mentions Tamar may be in Hawaii. Jay goes to Sepp’s place to look through his things. He finds a bunch of pictures in an album. A knock at the door surprises him, and a man passes a message through the crack: an invitation to New Perspectives, Lost Horizons— an evening hosted by Dr. Hodel.
In Clancy’s Club, Fauna catches up with Jimmy Lee (Golden Brooks). Jimmy Lee talks of meeting Sammy Davis Jr. in that same club years before when she used to sing regularly. Fauna asks more questions, yet her mother doesn’t have answers, or won’t give any. Jimmy Lee slaps her daughter across the face when there are too many questions, driving a wedge deeper. She warns not to keep digging: “It‘ll break your heart.”
Jay finds Corinna at the latest art show. But she alerts security, sending the reporter off to hide. He slips away into the room belonging to Hodel. He looks at the various pieces and paintings. One catches his eye: a painting of an abstract body, its limbs, head, and torso de-configured. In fact, many of the paintings depict women’s bodies in strange forms. It all comes together as he sees a keyhole image like the one on the Bloody Romeo corpse.
This episode stepped up the game! Not that the series hasn’t been good, it’s just the great acting’s really taking hold, the weirdness has fully sunk in, and everything about I Am the Night is getting very exciting.
“Aloha” is next time.