Despite the potential for more, “Phenomenon of Interference” middles through, wasting its time rather than propelling the story.
This recap of I Am the Night Episode 2, “Phenomenon of Interference”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Persistence can certainly be a strength, until it crosses over into recklessness. Despite her long lost grandfather ignoring her calls, Fauna continues to insist he asked her to visit him in Los Angeles, even going to his home. Where he also doesn’t answer. Elsewhere, Jay begs his editor Peter (Leland Orser) to allow him to reopen the George Hodel case, despite the disastrous outcomes of the previous trial. Both pursue George Hodel, for differing reasons, yet he evades them. As does truly inspired storytelling in this week’s I am the Night.
If, as Peter implies, the Hodel case did derail Jay’s career, his willingness to charge back in seems a bit too convenient. Sure, as he tells his prostitute friend, he thinks he can fix it. But if he is as broken as he seems, revisiting the cause of his demise comes a bit too easily. However, Peter disagrees, assigning him to the developing Bloody Romeo story regarding the death of a young prostitute, Janice. A black man named Brody Stiles has been collared for her murder, but sources indicate it is a setup. Jay’s trail leads him to a group of drugged out prostitutes. Somewhere in his drug-induced haze, he connects Tamar, Hodel’s daughter (and Fauna’s birth mother) with a convent and the young girl (Fauna) he saw when stalking Corinna earlier in “Phenomenon of Interference”.
Fauna calls her step-grandmother (Connie Nielsen) again, although Corinna doesn’t recall the previous conversation, yet after some pressing, invites Fauna to her home. According to Corinna, in full eccentric mode, Tamar was a liar (and is also no longer alive, contradicting what George had previously told Fauna). The two have lunch together, where Fauna learns that George Hodel is a prodigy and genius, as well as an avid art collector. While visiting one of his collections, Fauna catches a glimpse of the man who has been following her, as well as her allusive grandfather (who was also the man she met at the bus stop). In another shocking moment, Corinna reveals that Fauna is not actually mixed race, citing a French ballet dancer as her real father.
“Phenomenon of Interference” was somewhat frustrating, in part because it can’t seem to decide what story it wants to tell, so it does them all in a mediocre way. There are compelling narrative possibilities–the lost girl stumbling on dark family secrets, the broken journalist searching for the truth, and the simmering racial tensions, as shown in an early scene where a black man is beaten by police after trying to pay a woman’s bus fare. Even the contrast between Fauna’s loving adoptive relatives and the odd detachment of her step-grandmother has some teeth. Yet, for whatever reason, these bits all seem half-conceived, shoved into the time slot with more style than thought.
You can check out our thoughts on the next episode by clicking these words.
Amber is a doctoral candidate in Language, Diversity, and Literacy at Texas Tech. She holds an MA in Literature and History and a BFA in Theatre. A Texas-based mother of two, she is an Associate Professor of English and History at Howard College.