TNT’s I Am the Night
Episode 5: “Aloha”
Directed by Carl Franklin
Written by Monica Beletsky
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Matador” – click here
* For a recap & review of the finale, “Queen’s Gambit, Accepted” – click here
Back in 1949, Dr. George Hodel (Jefferson Mays) was in court listening to testimony about his young daughter, Tamar (Kassidy Slaughter), who was accusing him of horrible things. The jury looked at the young woman like she was disgusting, laughing at accusations her father was the Black Dahlia killer. Tamar was trying to keep her mind off things by sticking a pin into her flesh, drawing blood.
Twenty years later, Peter Sullivan (Leland Orser) meets Jay Singletary (Chris Pine) at the bar. The younger reporter’s excited because he’s tracked down Tamar’s address and seen curious things at the gallery. Peter says it’d have to be the “A–bomb” of scoops to reverse the damage done with Hodel’s case. Then Singletary tells him about meeting Tamar’s daughter Fauna (India Eisley). He’s got to get to Hawaii, and Peter will send him for the long shot it pays off.
Jay goes to get Fauna, only finding an angry Jimmy Lee (Golden Brooks) in his face about taking a sixteen-year-old girl to another state. The girl wants to go and she’s not letting her mother stop her. Jimmy Lee chases the reporter out, though her daughter slips out the back of the house regardless. Not long and the pair are in Hawaii.
Jay and Fauna start looking through mail at a local shop in the area where they believe Tamar lives. Fauna begins wondering if her real mother’s trying to hide from her. The reporter assures her there are better reasons for her to stay hidden, like staying out of the limelight and away from her surgeon father’s nastiness.
At a bar, Fauna’s bothered by a Navy man trying to dance to “Wooly Bully” with her. He forces her into it, so Jay changes the situation with a pool ball in his sock. They get out thanks to the bartender. All the same, Fauna recognises the self-destructive behaviour her reporter buddy exhibits. That night, she takes the bed in their motel room while Jay sleeps in the car having PTSD dreams about dead Koreans and dead Sepp. He winds up waking her screaming. She comforts him about Sepp, knowing it was self-defence: “God will forgive you.” But God’s not much comfort.
The next day they get back to their search. When they stop at the roadside at a dead end they hear a little black girl being called Fauna in the distance. They run to where she’s headed, towards a house in the trees. There, they find Tamar, fine and well. She explains a few things. “Every white person I know is a liar,” she says, so that’s why she listed Fauna’s father as black on the birth certificate, naming her after part of a Robinson Jeffers poem. There remains strange mystery. Tamar mentions the “morals trial” against her father and how she was labelled crazy. The big blow: George is actually Fauna’s father and grandfather. Yuck.
This leaves Fauna feeling betrayed by Jay for not telling her the whole truth, and betrayed by her entire existence. She leaves Jay, walking off on her own. The reporter wants to cut her out of the whole news story. Problem is the story needs her, and his morals are spread thin. Jay goes to Tamar that night trying to talk her into helping him take Dr. Hodel down for good. She’s not willing to go up against all that power again, even if she’s sure of her father’s guilt in the murder of Elizabeth Short. “We all knew,” she tells the reporter. Tamar then shows Jay things that George sends her— paintings of women, a couple who just happen to be Ms. Short and Janice Brewster.
Back in Los Angeles there’s a riot happening in the street. Jay tells Fauna the whole story about what he believes Dr. Hodel did years ago. He then goes to meet Peter at a Chinese restaurant about his findings. The older reporter doesn’t care about anything unless Fauna’s involved in the story. He’s also set his pal up. Sergeant Billis (Yul Vazquez) and his boys are there to get the jump on Mr. Singletary.
This leaves Fauna on her own. She goes back to her cousin’s place, finding nobody home. She calls Jimmy Lee to apologise. Her adopted mother’s glad to hear appreciation for all she’s done. Fauna saw the hideousness of the family to whom she’s bonded by blood. Now she knows an adopted family is as good as any other family, even better in her case. Jimmy Lee hangs up abruptly after Fauna asks more about the old trial. Then she finds Dr. Hodel’s in her house, curious about his daughter/granddaughter. He’s got his hands on a knife, too. She tries to call for help when someone knocks at the door, and George stabs her brutally a few times before running off into the night.
“Real evil is tricky“
What’ll happen with Jay in jail? Is George going to go find Fauna?
Uh oh. Lots to come in the finale.
“Queen’s Gambit, Accepted” is next.