I Am The Night
“Matador” (Episode 104)
February 18, 2019
Last week on I Am The Night, Jay discovered (disgusting) similarities between the Janis Brewster case and the Black Dahlia murder. Unfortunately, Jay’s obsession with the Hodel case landed him in the slammer where the LAPD almost extracted an eye. Fauna did some light B&E in her step-grandma’s house, and realized the creepy dude from the Bus Stop rest area is her grandfather, George Hodel. Jay and Fauna finally met and Sepp (f/k/a Mr. Black Car) really stepped up his creepy AF Factor!
Catch up on all the action from last week’s episode with our deep dive recap and review here! Now, on to tonight’s episode of I Am The Night … BEWARE OF SPOILERS!
Open scene. The Hodel Manse. Sepp is at the Hodel residence, drinking and pondering a chess move. He’s sitting across from a couple eagerly awaiting the doc. (Aren’t we all?!? And as an aside, I wouldn’t sit there knowing all the shit that goes down on that patio). Dr. Hodel walks in and makes his move, announcing he’ll have checkmate in 4 moves. George admonishes Sepp in front of the couple for losing Fauna and demands that Sepp go and “find her.”Hodel drains his brandy and takes the wife to be examined, commanding the husband to sit [Ed. Note: Hodel even raises his hand like he’s talking to a dog – Doc has control issues]. Sepp drains his own goblet of Brandy and takes a chess piece from the board. He quips to the husband that he’s “going to spoil his [Hodel’s] game.”
Hmmm. Sepp, I don’t trust you after what I think you did to Nero and now that you’ve been put down again by George, what’s going on in that underling, henchman mind of yours?
Jay is lying in bed dreaming about frozen dead Korean soldiers when the phone rings. It’s Corinna Hodel calling. She’s crying, saying she knows who Jay is and that she wants to show him something important. She’s holding an old newspaper article about the doctor’s acquittal. Her breathy accent is gone. She hangs up sobbing. Okay … this pendulum of her different facades is wearing thin. What’s your deal, lady?
Across town, Fauna wakes up at Terrence’s place (on the couch, get your dirty minds out of the gutter). Fauna spies Terrence outside, working on his car and greeting some neighbors warmly. She smiles despite herself which leads her to call her beau back at home, Lewis (remember him? Yeah, I didn’t either), but he isn’t around. Later, she and Terrence are shooting the breeze; talking about cars versus buses, white man privilege and her quest to find her family. She tells Terrence she can’t give up on George in case he’s really wonderful and/or needs her help.
I feel like Fauna is still acting too naive given what she’s seen already of the Hodel lifestyle. I feel it could be deeper. Other than her new hairdo and eyeliner, she’s not developing very much as a character.
Diego’s Diner. Jay is having breakfast with Ohls and his partner on his new beat. Literally the beat. Ohls is finding the bright side because, he’s a good guy. His partner is an old-timer, Miller (Marco St. John), who was around during the Black Dahlia. Jay asks his impression of that murder. Miller believes the killer knew Elizabeth Short and based on what he did to her, must have hated her.
“Chop her in half, her face, he hated her pretty good, you ask me.”
Jay’s skeptical, asking if there was ever a copycat. Nothing sticks out in Miller’s mind. Back in his car, Jay is comparing the photos from 1947 and present day, pondering.
Terrence takes Fauna to the site where Nero’s body was found, dumped on the outskirts of an industrial refinery. He pours one out for Nero, throws the bottle and a homeless man verbally abuses him for throwing garbage around his house. Terrence asks him if he’d seen the police. The man tells him a white man in a shiny, black Buick had been here too. Terrence asks Fauna about the man in the Buick who follows her. He’s convinced they’re connected despite Fauna downplaying it all. Terrence isn’t convinced and gets a bit snippy with her. “You’ve got something to do with it,” he tells her.
In an underground room, or some type of sewer, Sepp sets up a kill area. On the wall, he hangs a black and white mask with a crow shaded on it. This is the same type of mask from George’s 1945 sex party we saw last week. All that’s missing is Christian Bale, his ax, and Hip To Be Square.
Auntie Big Momma’s House. Auntie Big Momma is angry at Fauna for not coming home and tells Fauna that Jimmie Lee is coming to LA. Tina also has some issues with Fauna. She throws some serious shade at Fauna for staying at Terrence’s place and, yeahhh, isn’t believing Fauna’s reason: that she was fearful after Nero’s death. Tina gives Fauna an envelope that had been dropped off for her by “a white man.”It’s an invitation to “The Happening” hosted by Corinna. That look Tina gives Fauna on the way out … cold, son.
[Ed. Note: The invitation looks like it was assembled by different letters cut from a magazine. Is this a legitimate invitation from Corinna who is just whimsical with her font or is this murderous trap being laid for Fauna?!?]
As Peter heads into his “office” at the King Eddy Saloon, Jay jumps him, begging for another shot, either at the Bloody Romeo case or the Hodel angle. Jay mentions that Hodel’s ex-wife is talking to him and that there is something there. Peter dismisses Jay, he’s cried wolf too many times. But, Peter is a sucker for Jay and comes back out. He asks if Jay really thinks there is a story with the ex-wife and Jay mentions the sobbing phone call in the middle of the night. Peter hands Jay an invite for Corinna’s “The Happening.” Like us, Jay doesn’t know what a Happening is exactly.
The Happening. Fauna arrives at the Happening. The Rolling Stones’ “Play With Fire” is queued up (such a sound byte for the time) in an industrial-looking loft room. There are men and women dressed in black and white clothes and masks, an obvious throwback to the Hodel sex party (and to Sepp’s mask fetish we’ve seen as well). The black and white clad folks are a sort of art installation, standing side by side in a descending swirl of stark color. A partygoer sidles up to Fauna and notes her young age. Fauna asks after Corinna and Tamar and the partygoer is in disbelief that Corinna is a grandmother. When the partygoer is distracted by another partygoer, Fauna is left alone to wander. When Jay turns up at the party, she hightails it down a corridor.
[Ed. Note: Can we all appreciate how “square” Jay is; did you catch him saluting the people standing as art – such a funny thing to do when confronted with the absurd which is so abundant in avant-garde art. Love him!]
Fauna finds Corinna in a full length fuchsia dress, lying on a stone slab. The audience begins to cut away portions of her dress in turn.
Holy hell, the violin and percussion sequence here is giving me chills and the heebee jeebees.
I’m back to Sleep No More for this part, where the audience is both a voyeur to a scene and participant. The scissors are passed around as everyone takes a chunk of her dress. Then Fauna gets the scissors and refuses to cut her dress. Corinna, standing there all statuesque, leaves the scene. Her assistant comes to find Fauna and says Corinna was asking for her.
In Corinna’s dressing room they’re discussing the piece and Fauna apologizes for the moment in the car when she erupted. Fauna gets a lecture from her step-grandma when she says she wasn’t a fan of The Happening. You see, Corinna understands what the avant-garde is and Fauna doesn’t.
“Think of it as a term for an advanced profound conscience based on a deeper understanding of history.”
Corinna launches into a well rehearsed diatribe about avant-garde versus kitsch; true art versus mindless guff made for public consumption. B T Dubs, her accent is back.
But, what’s this? Fauna grows a set and, while Corinna is pontificating on the virtues of art, pilfers Corinna’s address book from her pocketbook. Fauna re-focuses on her step-grandma long enough to impress Corinna with her take on literalism and her thoughts on the avant-garde piece just before. Fauna pleads for Corinna to give her more information on Tamar but Corinna doesn’t have time for that. Exit Corinna. Fauna looks in the book and finds a “TH Apate” living in Hawaii. Apate, a word we learned two weeks ago!!
As Fauna is walking back downstairs, she’s knocked out by Sepp. A flutter of the black and white bird mask appears on the screen before going black.
Fauna comes to and screams when she sees Sepp. He’s got her pinned down on the killing floor tarp he set out earlier, his hand clamps over her mouth and the other brandishing a knife in her face.
“Quiet. I’d like to slice off your calf and fry it up and eat it and puke it up in front of you.”
Oooooookkkkkkaaaayyyyyy, not quite Chianti and fava beans. He’s jealous of Hodel, passively-aggressively ranting about George to Fauna. He promises that she’s about to be apart of “the REAL Happening.” Jay comes out of nowhere and collides with Sepp, knocking him off of Fauna.
We see some of the Rambo-Type military tactics we’ve been hearing Jay has as he takes down Sepp, skewering him with a wrench. LEFT HANDED! I know something you don’t know. He is not left-handed. I went back to all the earlier episodes to study Jay’s hand dominance. Jay, having dispatched Sepp, slides down the wall and falls over. Fauna approaches Sepp’s inert body and kicks at, checking to see if he’s really dead. Meanwhile, Hodel’s bull, whose hooved feet we last saw under a door, enters Jay’s hallucination. We’re talking complete hallucination here with a shadow of a bull’s horn against a glowing red light darkening the doorway and the sound of hooves approaching as he almost loses consciousness. Fauna calling him, “Reporter?,” rouses him back to his feet.
The unlikely duo scramble as the 2 tipsy partygoers Fauna met at the top of the scene come downstairs to the basement, looking for a more private locale. They find Fauna and Jay standing in front of Sepp’s dead body, well placed legs hiding the wrench sticking out of his gut. Mercifully, the partygoers are too drunk and horny to care much about the body on the floor.
Fauna freaks out and wants to move Sepp because the pair know her name and can put it together. Jay is resistant, a flat tone to his voice asking her to just leave it be. Eventually he relents to her reasoning. Holy shitballs, Jay looks like a goddamn serial killer as he kneels down next to the body. His eyes are black. The camera angle puts him in a position of terrifying dominance over the body.
Using Sepp’s own death tarp, Jay wheels Sepp out in a wheelbarrow, then loads him into the trunk of his car. Inside the car, Jay takes a couple of large gulps of gin followed by tonic. Therapeutic!
“I don’t think that’s how you make a gin and tonic.”
Fauna has him drive to the spot where Nero was dumped. After pulling the body into the weeds, Jay is all, that’s done, lets go. But Fauna’s head is clearer, she thinks they should try to ID him (he knew her grandfather). Plus the wrench skewer has Jay’s fingerprints on it. As Jay extracts the wrench (the squishy sound is really gross), Fauna finds Sepp’s wallet and a chess piece.
Jay’s Apartment. Jay is blackout-level drunk when they get back to his place. Fauna helps him a bit as he crashes on to his couch (and then promptly rolls to the floor). Still sober and processing all that has happened, Fauna takes herself into Jay’s bathroom and has a good cry. Fauna has finally crossed the line; she’s joined the ranks of these twisted people. At least her soul is intact enough to cry about it.
We come back from break with Jay sitting in the interrogation room. He’s there with Billis and Billis’s partner … Sepp. Jay starts to scream as a bucket of water is thrown at him. He wakes up in his apartment, Fauna having doused him with water to wake up. He’s still on the floor and he’s hurting this morning.
“Where’s the dog?”
“The dog that shit in my mouth.”
We’ve all been there, maybe minus the dead guy hallucination.
Fauna makes him some coffee as he goes off to puke. They look at Sepp’s ID and she tells Jay he’s followed her for years. His full name is Ivanovich Viktor Sepp, who’s supposed to be 35. If he’s 35, then either life’s been hard on him, yeesh or else, it’s an insult to 35 year-olds. Fauna wants to know why Jay is looking for Tamar? He tells her that George is the story and Tamar has information he can use on the illegal abortion clinic he used to run. Fauna wants her and her mother left out of the story. Nice to see her finally making demands as opposed to asking questions that go unanswered. Fauna makes Jay an offer to get him to Tamar if he can get them to Hawaii. They shake on it.
Jay goes to Sepp’s place. There’s a creepy vibe that comes with being somewhere you’re not supposed to be, even more so after you’ve killed the occupant. The only interesting Jay finds is a book of photographs. One photo in particular catches Jay’s attention, he stares at it, looking thoughtful and sad. But, we don’t get to see who is in it. An abrupt knock on the door (that made me jump out of my skin, honestly) interrupts his picture gazing. Jay takes the envelope from the messenger at the door, without revealing the rest of his body. It is an invite to an art exhibit, “New Perspectives, Lost Horizons,” sponsored by Dr. George Hodel.
Clancy’s Club. We come back from the final break to find Jimmie Lee, newly arrived in LA, singing at Clancy’s Club. She’s all done up but she falters during her performance when she sees Fauna. No one claps (except Fauna). I get the feeling she’s a fraud, from Episode 1 when she said Sammy Davis Jr. wanted her to record an album. I don’t hear the talent, but there’s potential.
There’s such an iciness between these two as they sit across from each other. Fauna is trying though, calling Jimmie Lee “mama” still and complimenting her voice. Jimmie Lee repeats the line about Sammy Davis wanting her to record with him. Jimmie Lee asks Fauna what she’s been up to and Fauna spills all it all out. Chief among her concerns is whether Jimmie Lee knows George Hodel and if so, what else can she tell Fauna about him. Jimmie Lee slaps her hard.
“Violence will burn your heart and mark you forever if you don’t let it go.”
Jimmie Lee is trying to get Fauna to back down from her investigation. Among other things, she tells Fauna that she’s going to break Jimmie Lee’s heart. But Fauna, who is growing as a character tremendously this episode, fights back, refusing to be manipulated by Jimmie Lee’s bi-polarness.
“I’m going to find out everything and I don’t care what it breaks.”
Art Gallery. Jay arrives at the art exhibition, using Sepp’s invite (not like Sepp was going to use it). He goes up to Corinna to talk but she gets real uncomfortable, real fast. She pretends not to know who he is and calls security on him. Jay ducks into a side room.
Now begins my favorite scene in this whole series. Hands down.
Jay sees a sign that the works in the room are the property of George Hodel. [Ed. Note: Eagle eyed viewers will note that there is a Bull on two legs below these words – George Hodel’s sigil as it were.] Jay looks around the room at the paintings, initially in a very cursory manner. The sound of the floor creaking and a breathy wind rushing through on the soundtrack starts to amp up the tension. The wheels start turning in Jay’s head as he really LOOKS at the paintings. The music is a slow crescendo of those dissonant trombones and spirally jazz tones we’ve heard a bit before. Jay’s eyes fall upon a painting of a disembodied mannequin that resembles Janis and the Black Dahlia.
The editing here is superb. We begin to cut between crime scene photos that Jay has been looking at and the various paintings in the gallery, most of which show disembodied or mutilated subjects, where the art poses match up perfectly with the murders.
The music continues, dramatic and heart-pounding, intermingled now with a bull’s growl.
All the pieces are coming into place for Jay. The Goddamn bull is all over the paintings, too, if you look closely. Jay sees a keyhole in a painting, an exact match to what the keyhole tattoo from the Black Dahlia crime scene photos. Lastly, Jay comes across a skeleton of a bull’s head, propped up on a wire frame; Jay looks like he’s seeing his death coming at him with a look of terror in his eyes.
Yo, David Lang (who does the music for the show), you make my heart pound. Hand this man an Emmy.
Chris Pine, your character is truly the best thing about this show, with the short-legged suits, white socks and white sneakers, and the depths your despair brings us to. This is what a broken human bring looks like, yet he tries to swing the pendulum towards redemption, when he remembers who he is. And this is why we root for him. He’s got his demons, they are destructive, but at his core, he’s still an honorable soul.
In this episode, Fauna FINALLY becomes an active player in her own story as opposed to the wide-eyed supporting character she’s been up until now. She finds her voice and realizes that no one is going to give her what she wants; she is going to have to take every opportunity to learn the truth.
Her and Jay, as a team, are everything I hoped for; they have a rapport that works. He needs more human contact to bring him back from his crazy brinks, but seeing all the mischief Fauna brought to his life, maybe she’s not the best human for him to engage with. I’m still reeling from how Jay took down Sepp, living up to the legend set out by Ohls (and demonstrating the reason Ohls has such awe for him). Fauna needs someone who is just as obsessively on-board as she is to find her mother and she needs an adult to navigate some of this. Well, I guess Jay qualifies on some fronts.
Tamar has been located! Not quite eyes on her yet, but it’s coming. Although, I kinda get the feeling this is not going to go as smoothly as the handshake between Jay and Fauna would suggest; but at least she’s on an island to be located. First off, Jay has to get a 16-year-old off the mainland. What could go wrong with that?
Sepp is murdered, in spectacular fashion, but we’re no closer to understanding the mystery of why he was following Fauna or what he wanted to explain to her unless we get something in the next two episodes that wraps that up. We glean from the tipping out for Nero scene that Mr. Black Car was instrumental in Nero’s demise. Much like Nero, eh, farewell creepy dude. RIP I guess. Now, George actually appears in this episode in present day and speaks, albeit briefly. We missed that in episode 3, although nothing of substance was really added here.
The art gallery scene does a magnificent job in connecting the Black Dahlia murder, Janis Brewster’s murder and George Hodel. The music, with it’s spiraling jazz makes us feel out of control and revealing horrific connections between the art world and the true crime world. Hands down my favorite scene from this series for all its drama, oddity, and Chris Pine’s look of sheer terror.
The two remaining episodes have a lot to unpack. There’s basically an hour and 40 minutes left to produce Fauna’s mother since Jay and Fauna are hellbent on finding her for their own reasons. Otherwise, what’s the point? Fauna’s father’s identity needs to be unearthed now that we know her birth certificate is wrong. Additionally, we need to find out why there is so much mystery swirling around George and why is he so elusive? What’s with the bull? Lastly, I need to know that Jay’s gonna be okay with his growing list of demons.
Thank you for reading and join us for next Monday’s penultimate episode where some even weirder shit is bound to go down and you know it will be colorful, cuz we have Jimmie Lee back in the house! Join me on Twitter as I live tweet the show. I’m @SheilsMcGangsta.