As the series draws nearer to its conclusion, “Aloha” underlines both the successes (Pine) and failings (stretched narrative) of I Am the Night.
This recap of I Am the Night Episode 5, “Aloha”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The year is 1949 and Tamar Hodel is on trial. Even if she isn’t, and her father actually is, it is Tamar who seems to be under scrutiny, discredited as a teenage sex maniac capable of outlandish lies, such as her father is the Black Dahlia killer.
With the reluctant support of his editor, Peter, Jay procures funds to take Fauna to Hawaii in search of Tamar. Before they can hit the islands, he has to get past an enraged Jimmie Lee. Chris Pine is hilarious in this scene filled with hysterical females: “It looks bad” he deadpans about attempting to take a 16-year-old girl across the ocean (this entire episode is full of Pine quirk–Lolita sunglasses, anyone?). Jimmie Lee tears up the tickets to which Fauna replies, “You got any more of those?”, like he’s just made of airline tickets. Apparently, he has the receipts and can get more. I suppose I could fact check this, but it is ultimately irrelevant how realistic it is to get new airline tickets in the 1960s two hours before a flight, as Fauna sneaks out to join him. The next thing we see is them tooling along the Hawaiian highway in a red convertible. All that’s missing is “Blue Hawaii” playing in the background. Fauna even has a dress that matches her lei.
The address turns out to be a dud. Rather than finding her mother, they find a shack where mail goes to die. The pair stop at a bar to regroup and ask for directions. While Jay makes a bathroom run, Fauna is harassed by sailors, because of course she is. He saves her, though she later accuses him of trying to get beat up. It’s highly possible; Jay’s PTSD continues as he’s surrounded by the ghosts of men he’s killed. Fauna later wakes him from a screaming nightmare and he talks about living with killing people, especially when you like it. Though I have avoided reading the real case, I can speculate that Jay is a fabrication (we haven’t seen any photographs of him in the closing credits, unlike other characters). Yet he seems the most grounded, realistic character in the show.
The next day, Fauna finally meets Tamar (Jamie Anne Allman), living on a mountainside with new children. Mother and daughter are reunited where Tamar confirms that Fauna is not half-black; Tamar put it on the birth certificate because she admired the black community and thought they would be more understanding and accepting of her daughter. She also confirms that the trial seen earlier was George’s incest trial. Though Tamar doesn’t state it explicitly, the implication is that Fauna’s mysterious grandfather is also her father.
She doesn’t take this news well.
Lashing out at Jay for holding back information, she storms off, leaving Jay to question how he is treating his star source and even considering not including her. In trying to save that little girl, he returns to the one that started it all, questioning Tamar by firelight where she warns him that his desire to bring down the notorious Dr. Hodel is pointless as he is too well-connected in LA. As a parting gift, Tamar gives him a box of things her father has been sending her. Inside are paintings of dead girls, including Janice and Elizabeth Short. The music swells and Jay says to no one, “He did it.”
Back on the mainland, Peter tells Jay to bring the girl with him to Chinatown. The streets are alight with angry men and burning cars. Jay leaves Fauna in the car to wait for him, which seems uncharacteristically stupid for Jay. Inside, Peter has set Jay up, because of course he has, and he’s arrested. Fauna calls her mother, who begs her to come home. Jimmie Lee hangs up, only to be greeted by George Hodel who attacks her in the kitchen. This Jimmie Lee thread probably makes the least sense to me. Why did she call Jay to begin with? Why go after her instead of Fauna who was actively trying to meet him? I get that he lost his henchman, Sepp, but would he really drive to Nevada to tie up a loose end?
Each week when I process this show, I wonder if I have been too hard on it. It should be a compelling narrative (and sometimes is). Chris Pine is excellent. Yet it all feels so stretched. What it needs more than anything is an editor. This story could have been told, with a savvy editor, in two to two and a half hours. I also question how satisfying the ending will be given that the Dahlia case remains unsolved. With that in mind, we may see the end to Jay’s suffering next week as part of the cover-up.
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.