It’s the final episode of the series and that means high stakes! This chess game is at its end and the pawns are making their last, desperate move. In the last episode, Jay’s attempt at finally catching Dr. George Hodel is thwarted by his own editor and the LAPD arresting him. Fauna returns to Big Mamma’s house and calls Jimmie Lee to say she’s still her mother.
It’s a heart-warming moment that’s ruined by George Hodel when he goes after Jimmie Lee and stabs her. He’s the worst. Jay is in jail and Fauna is in shambles and alone – a dangerous thing to be when George Hodel is coming for you.
Every good villain needs a backstory and in the final episode, we get his. George Hodel’s starts with playing the piano like a child prodigy in front of his potential instructor. It’s 1917, years before Elizabeth Short’s murder and Fauna Hodel’s journey. The instructor, Maestro Rachmaninoff, refuses to teach George Hodel because he lacks emotion. He says he cannot teach emotion to George. “He’s a mimic, a precise machine,” says Rachmaninoff, “put him into medicine or science.” George is hidden away on a staircase listening to the instructor talk to his mother. Rachmaninoff leaves with one final insult, “He is not an artist.” George is angry at these critics and looks up the staircase to see a beast staring back at him. The beginning of George’s obsession with trying to be an artist.
The piece George is playing, “Scherzo No.1 In B Minor, Op.20” by Frédéric Chopin, has a dark and dramatic structure to it that turns lively. It’s also considered one of Chopin’s most difficult and complex pieces. The piece is suspenseful and full of chaos – very similar to George Hodel himself. When Chopin wrote this, it was during a time of war and some speculate it is about the rebellion in Chopin’s homeland. This sets the stage for the rebellion we see later in the episode.
Jay Singletary is trying to convince Billis to let him go. Billis, along with the higher-ups in the LAPD, are all pawns being bought by George Hodel. Jay tells Billis that George Hodel killed Janice Brewster and that he has proof. Billis is unphased by this shocking revelation and threatens Jay to keep George’s name off of his lips. In an attempt to rattle Billis out of Hodel’s spell, Jay yells at him, “For once in your goddamn life, be a cop!” It’s enough to get Billis angry and back in the prison cell with Jay where Jay can convince him to look in George Hodel’s eyes and see for himself the man he is.
Fauna gets news that her mom, Jimmie Lee, is in the hospital and in critical condition. She calls Corinna and asks for help before hitching a ride with Terence. Big Mamma’s neighborhood is engulfed in flames and riots are on the streets. Black people are fighting back against the racism they’ve experienced. Fauna has to ride in the trunk of Terence’s car so the police won’t get suspicious of a black man driving around a white woman. When they get to Corinna’s house, Fauna kisses Terence and tells him he can’t come with her.
“Where I’m going, you can’t come,” Fauna warns Terence. She has to fight her own battle.
Corinna feigns ignorance when she lets Fauna into her home. Before she gives Fauna bus money to return to Jimmie Lee, Corinna offers Fauna drinks that have already been mysteriously prepared. Fauna admits she’s seen Tamar between sips and Corinna asks if Tamar still lives in her fantasy world. Fauna notices that Corinna hasn’t taken a sip of her drink even though she is halfway through hers. She realizes what’s happening and tries to get up but falls to the ground. Her drink has been drugged and she’s about to enter the Lion’s den. Corinna offers her a quick warning before she loses consciousness, “Don’t eat anything in his house.”
It’s interesting that Corinna gives Fauna some advice on what to expect with George Hodel. She knows that George wants to kill Fauna and turn her body into a surrealist piece as he has done with his previous victims. Corinna remained silent throughout their deaths but is trying to help Fauna in her own way. In the final episode, she can’t protect Fauna because of George’s power over her but she can try to help her against George. Corinna knows his power but, in her own way, is rebelling against him in the hopes that Fauna succeeds.
When Fauna wakes up, she is in the Snowden House – where George Hodel hosts his elaborate parties and houses his illegal clinic in the basement. He is standing over her and asks her to join him in the sitting room. When he leaves, Fauna realizes that she has been changed and her clothes are folded neatly on the dresser. It is implied that George is the one who undressed and dressed her. She changes back into her original clothes before seeing George.
Fauna finally comes face to face with George and isn’t sure which tactic to use. Should she be upfront or play innocent? She decides to try both. George acts apologetic about her interactions with Jay Singletary and Tamar. He feigns innocence and reminds her that he won a libel lawsuit against Jay and he won the trial against Tamar. This isn’t reassuring to Fauna and she pretends that she’s still unwell. George knows she is looking for a way out but lets her believe he is unaware.
When he leaves the room, Fauna makes a run for it only to find out her escape route is locked. She is stuck. George sees her and invites her to look at a painting he bought. Billis enters the room and tells George that the reporter has been dealt with. Fauna pulls Billis aside and asks him to take her out of the house. But George is always around and Billis says no just as he rounds the corner.
Back at the precinct, Jay makes a deal with Billis: let him out for a few hours to kill George Hodel and he will frame himself for the murder of Janice Brewster. He sells it as a way for Billis to get both himself and George out of his hair. Jay asks Billis if he went to the house and Billis says he saw Fauna. They both know what George is going to do to her and they are running out of time. Billis accepts the deal and gives Jay the key to his handcuffs before he is transported away in a police car.
Another one of George’s pawns helping out his enemy. This parallels Corinna’s attempt at helping out Fauna. Although pawns in a chess game tend to be expendable, they can also be important aspects of the game. Especially if they lead to the downfall of the King. George’s pawns are making room for Jay and Fauna to have greater access to the chessboard – which is leaving George exposed.
George invites Fauna to eat with him in his home. Fauna sees the food and remembers Corinna’s advice: don’t eat anything in his home. She says she is not hungry and there’s a tense moment between George and Fauna where he drinks his wine and waits for her to do the same. She doesn’t and he knows the rouse is up. George decides it is time for his next step and takes Fauna downstairs to his basement. He says he wants to paint her and she knows where this is leading. Before she goes downstairs, she grabs a round, metal object and holds on to it for later. Taking notes from Jay on preparing for a fight.
In the basement, Fauna sees the surgery equipment before seeing George’s studio. He pulls out the nightgown Fauna was originally wearing and tells her to wear it. She says no and he slaps her hard enough to give her a bloody nose. George is no longer playing around. As she changes, she sees pictures of George’s victims. They are polaroids of the crime scenes along with a painting of him wearing his beast-like mask.
George tells Fauna that he must follow mother nature’s will for him. He is a machine to her. Doing her bidding and succumbing to his desire to kill. For him, his bad desires are of a greater design to mother nature. She instills these intentions in order to create some sort of balance. As he is telling this Fauna and painting her, she asks to wipe her face off and he hands her a cloth. She uses it and then wraps it around the metal ball she took from earlier.
Fauna realizes that she cannot beg her way out of this. George knows the routine and he is unphased. The only other option is to get him angry and lose control of the situation. So, how do you get an artist angry? You insult their work.
With this tactic, Fauna delivers the ultimate punch to George’s ego, “You sure talk a lot of shit.” It’s a blow that George doesn’t see coming but she keeps throwing punches. Fauna taunts George by telling him she went to Corinna’s Happening and that Corinna would say his art is the opposite of avant-garde. “She’d say ‘kitsch’,” sneers Fauna. She knows it’s working because he is reaching for the scalpel. She continues by calling him “dummy” and saying his belief that nature made him a machine is “a bunch of shit.” She finishes with one final jab: that he doesn’t understand art. A parallel to the flashback at the beginning of the episode. George is unhinged and Fauna is in control.
He lunges at her with the scalpel but Fauna uses her make-shift blunt weapon to hit his arm. He goes for the gun but she knocks him down by hitting his spine with the metal sphere wrapped in cloth. Fauna grabs the gun.
There’s a reflection of the beast in Fauna’s eyes as she points the gun at George Hodel. But she doesn’t pull the trigger. He tries to claim her one last time saying she will always belong to him but Fauna presses back. She says Jimmie Lee will always be her mother.
“We all know what you are, George,” taunts Fauna, “you’re a cliché. Just like a pimp raping his own daughter.” She knows who she is. Fauna leaves George Hodel in the dark of his basement. At this moment, Jay comes into the mansion and sees Fauna. They hug and Jay tells her to stay where she is so he can kill George. When he goes down to the basement, George is gone. Jay loses it and starts destroying stuff before Fauna calms him down and tells him he doesn’t have to kill him.
In the final episode, Jay has to leave town because of his deal with Billis. If he stays, he will be convicted of Janice Brewster’s murder. Fauna heads back to see Jimmie Lee. Both Jay and Fauna promise to write to each other. Fauna sits on Jimmie Lee’s hospital bed and they both hold hands, Fauna’s eyes telling Jimmie Lee what she needs to know. They are safe. It’s over.
Jay is in Hawaii dealing with his trauma when he gets a letter from Fauna. She tells him that he saved her life. The epilogue of the series is Fauna encouraging Jay to move on from his past. George Hodel has fled to the Territory of Hawaii knowing he no longer has power in LA. Jay looks into the Hawaiin sunset while on a surfboard. To his right and left are the Korean soldiers he has killed and Sepp. They are looking to the horizon just as Fauna is.
In 1950, George Hodel puts him home up for sale and flees to Hawaii before he has a chance to be arrested for Elizabeth Short’s murder, Jeanne French “Red Lipstick” murder, and the forced overdose of his secretary Ruth Spaulding. There is a chance he committed murders while he was in Hawaii.
George Hodel died on May 16, 1999.
Fauna Hodel passed away from Cancer on September 30, 2017.
I Am The Night is a limited series that aired on TNT from January 27th to March 5th of 2019.
Images from TNT