As soon as the second episode of I Am The Night, “Phenomenon of Interference” begins, we are given a big bite of information to chew. If you missed the first recap, check it out here. This episode does a great job of delving into the background of Dr. George Hodel without losing focus on both Fauna and Jay. It’s a slow build that gives bits and pieces of information that is just enough to chew on and keep you interested in what’s going on.
I feel like I am in a pot over a flame that is being slowly turned up and I think each episode is going to turn that flame up without us noticing. Fauna Hodel’s background is mixed in with Jay Singletary’s journalistic background. Episode two reminds us that the connection between these two runs deeper than we expect. And it establishes the crucial piece of both Jay and Fauna’s investigation: Tamar Hodel.
In “Phenomenon of Interference,” like any great journalist, Jay Singletary immediately runs to his editor to pitch him about bringing Dr. George Hodel’s case out into the light again. However, like any great editor, Peter is quick to ask the “so what?” question. Jay’s reporting on Dr. George Hodel ruins his life and causes the writers at the L.A. Times to lose their jobs. Based on Peter’s retelling of what happened, Jay got George Hodel’s daughter, Tamar, to testify but she mysteriously recanted her statement and got shipped off to a convent.
It’s clear that Dr. George Hodel is a powerful man. Peter quotes ominously, “Power never changes” as Fauna witnesses a black man being beaten relentlessly by a group of white police officers. There’s a corrupt power at play here and George Hodel has found a way to capitalize on it and potentially get away with murder.
While Jay is pitching his resurrection story, Fauna is still struggling with her identity. George Hodel is an ethereal mist hanging over Fauna. He hasn’t answered her calls since their first interaction, so Fauna goes to her aunt from her adoptive family, Big Momma. Her cousin, Tina, takes her to George Hodel’s place but, of course, he isn’t home. Tina doesn’t stick around long enough to find answers.
Big Momma throws a small party where Fauna feels out of place. She threatens to pull out her birth certificate to prove she belongs in Big Mama’s home. When she finally meets her step-grandmother, it’s a chance to find Tamar and herself. Having Fauna mistakenly identified as mixed-race is perfect for how she feels in this world. Fauna is walking a tight-rope between two families.
But even meeting her real family doesn’t give Fauna peace of mind. Her step-grandmother is standoffish and only tells stories halfway. She nonchalantly tells Fauna that Tamar is dead. Even worse, that Tamar caused the family ruin because of her lies. But she won’t elaborate and is pushing Fauna on to another subject.
With Tamar’s death being a big blow, Fauna seeks more information about Dr. George Hodel. But her step-grandmother pushes accolades of his rather than talk about his personality. It almost sounds rehearsed.
In “Phenomenon of Interference,” Jay is still not off the hook on writing a piece about Janice, that cut up body he took pictures of in the morgue. The Sun Examiner has outwritten Jay and Peter wants a piece that sings. A suspect has been arrested for her murder and Peter sends Jay out to write a piece about it even though Jay wants to turn his attention on George. Jay begrudgingly investigates and starts talking to people.
Brody Styles confesses to killing Janice but Jay speaks to a man who knows Brody well enough to mention that he had arthritis so bad “he couldn’t even hold his bottle.” It’s clear that Brody could not murder Janice and he was framed. Forced to sign a confession. Jay’s questioning leads him to two women who are sex workers and friends of Janice. They back up Brody’s innocence by claiming Janice was very prejudiced. One of her friends said that Janice was happy before she disappeared and that Janice had met a man who was kind and smart.
Janice’s disappearance and death mimic the Black Dahlia murder almost perfectly. Elizabeth Short disappeared before being found cut up into pieces. Short was also dating a man for a short time and she was last seen with him before her disappearance. Perhaps this is another victim of the Black Dahlia killer? Is Dr. George Hodel the culprit? Where is he anyway?
Fauna’s step-grandmother decides to take her to George Hodel’s art collection. Before they leave, Jay is peeping through the fence to see if he can find Mrs. Hodel. Earlier, Jay gets advice from a friend to talk to the divorced wife in order to find Tamar. He’s close enough to Fauna to see that she is not Tamar, so he follows her and Mrs. Hodel to gather more information. The characters that are introduced in the first episode are finally starting to interact with one another.
The bizarre art collection of George’s gives great insighintoto the Black Dahlia murder. Most of the paintings in this episode were from the surrealist artist Man Ray. Investigators believe that George based his crimes on these paintings because of his warped vision of surrealism being a way to free people. These paintings feature detached women’s body parts and posed in various positions. The paintings are very similar to how Janice’s body was found as well.
Jay gets high with one of the sex workers and Janice’s friend, Wendy, and she confesses that it’s her son’s birthday. Wendy tells Jay she was in a convent while she was pregnant and, when she gave birth, they took him away. Jay makes the connection that Tamar was at that same convent and realizes he saw her daughter with Mrs. Hodel.
As he races back to the art museum, Fauna finally meets her grandfather. She makes the connection that he was the same person who spoke to her at the bus stop in the previous episode and does the smartest thing she has ever done these past few episodes – she runs away. Mrs. Hodel drops her off at a bus stop and drops another truth-bomb on Fauna: she’s white. Of course, Fauna does not believe her and calls her a “racist cow” (big 2019 mood).
Fauna thinks she has escaped George’s grasp but the man who has been following her in the black car is on the bus home with her. She is in deep whether she likes it or not. Also, I think we can all agree that Dr. George Hodel is a weird guy.
“Phenomenon of Interference” introduces major themes of the show in very subtle ways. Truth and power are at war with each other and Dr. George Hodel knows how to manipulate both. Jay is a truth-teller as a journalist and it has cost him his career by investigating George. Because he was young and naïve, he thought the truth would prevail so easily and that George Hodel would be convicted of his crimes. Now that Jay is more seasoned, he can play the game of finding the truth and navigating corrupt power.
Fauna is seeking her own truth in a web of lies and deceit. Mrs. Hodel constantly calls Tamar a liar, dismissing her person and claiming the legacy Tamar left behind is one of ruin. There’s a bit of truth mixed in with the deception and Fauna has to find it. Jay and Fauna’s desire to seek truth will eventually bring them together. “Phenomenon of Interference” ends, let’s hope it’s in the next episode.
TNT’s I Am The Night is a limited TV series with new episodes on Monday nights at 9/8c.