Thursday, December 18, 2014

The last episode of Serial

I had this episode sitting on the iPod in my purse for a full five hours before I listened to it. I kept thinking that maybe I should just ask Jeremy if he would be offended if I listened to it while we were in the car this afternoon, but thought better of it. So after we got home tonight, I was perfectly happy to tackle those dreaded chores that somehow don't complete themselves while you're putting the kids to bed, because at least I could listen to Serial while I worked.

The first season of Serial is over.

First, my reaction to the podcast. I respect Sarah Koenig's ending. I really do. Her final exclamation that we didn't have the facts 15 years ago, and we don't now, and that's all we really want, really resonated with me. I could feel her frustration simmering through the entire episode, and I share it - why is everyone lying? I appreciated the Don From Lenscrafters interview, and one last, possibly record-breaking in its length string of "you know"s from Adnan. We got the obligatory update on the Innocence Project, and a lob from left field about a serial killer. (Sorry, Deirdre, but what "big picture" explains away Jay knowing where the car was?) I was afraid this episode, and thus this entire podcast, would be a meditation on the elusive nature of truth, or that Sarah Koenig's foreshadowing of an "I dunno" ending would come true, but I don't think it did.

Second, my opinion on Adnan's guilt/innocence, because the universe doesn't allow posts like this to be written without the author weighing in. I think Adnan certainly should not have been convicted with the evidence that was presented at trial 15 years ago, not to mention the evidence we have heard since then. But like Sarah Koenig, I can't definitively say that I think he's innocent. I think he probably is. I know Dana said she thinks no one is that unlucky, but we're not talking about just anybody. We're talking about a case that is compelling enough to have its own podcast. The sample is biased. This is a weird case, and therefore it's almost more likely that things for this one guy, Adnan, went horribly, unluckily wrong.

Which, ARGH, sounds like I'm trying to say I DO think he's definitively innocent. I don't. I can't make that leap. There's just...something - a disturbing buoy, we could call it? - that keeps me from 100%. But I'm almost there. I am very, very easily persuaded by those theories that say Jay did it, and framed Adnan later.

How about you?


Craig said...

I was hoping for a more definitive conclusion. While the series was interesting and enjoyable, I can't help but feel a little duped. But, that's a fair result when the producers didn't know what the ending would be when they started a year ago. And I certainly wouldn't want them to present a phony or unsupportable conclusion.

I agree the evidence didn't support conviction beyond reasonable doubt. But I've swayed from believing Adnan was innocent to being unsure. I believe he is guilty of some stuff he isn't copping to, and that both he and Jay are lying about key things.

So, isn't there some DNA test that is going to happen? And that random killer subject from another case? They would need to link him to one of the characters in the series, otherwise no dice. And still, Jay knew where the car was.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I expected about what we got today. Because this story is non-fiction, there's no way it could be wrapped up tidily. Accumulation of evidence and legal processes take time. The results of a DNA test could further muddle the issue of guilt or innocence.

Adnan should not have been convicted on the 1999 evidence, and it seems the poor legal representation he has had should make the system take another look at his case (original lawyer got weird, some evidence in his favor was ignored, no DNA test, etc.).

The value of that random killer is that a DNA test can be requested based on the fact that he was at large and possibly targeting Asian women. The chances that he killed Hae are slight.

I still don't think Adnan did it, yet there is that combination of "bad luck" that makes him look guilty on some level. Yet all the "bad luck" points are normal events--loaning car, loaning phone, possible butt dial, etc.

Is Adnan listening to this in prison? If so, perhaps he will be motivated to alter his speech patterns.

Liz Johnson said...

I kind of appreciate that it didn't end tidily, because these things don't end that way in real life, and I appreciate her willingness to sit with that complexity and let it stew for a while.

I admit that parallels to the Raven/Janet case were running through my head the entire time - if SK did a podcast on my cousin's murder, would the general consensus be that Raven is most likely innocent (as it seems to be here), but nobody is 100% sure? Would they see him as guilty as I do? Is there more to complicate the case that would be dug up after 10 years? I have been thinking about this a lot - we really like these things to be so cut and dry - there is one answer, and that is the answer. Period. But it's not. Just like really good people do horrible things - it's just much more grey than black & white, at least in my mind.

That said, I hope the DNA evidence can prove something more conclusive. And if Jay's DNA is under her fingernails? What then?

Liz Johnson said...

Except that somebody definitively killed Hae Min Lee. But absent of a video of the killing, how can we really ever know?? That kind of ambiguity is distressing.

Aimee said...

As a juror, based on the case brought forth, I would have voted to acquitt. As in, not guilty, but that's not the same as feeling 100% certain he is innocent. I understand Sarah's ending and knew that this is what it would most likely end like. I have a hard time believing Adnan snapped and decided to strangle Hae to death with forethought. I just can't wrap my head around that notion. 17 year old, no violent history, stoned. It just doesn't add up to a dude who is likely to go nuts.

I understand Dana's skepticism, but remember the case was investigated with Adnan in mind. Some of it could be confirmation bias, as in the loaning of the car, the cell phone and fuzzy memories, and not just being incredibly unlucky. Even something innocuous could be skewed if looked at from a different light. Take, for example, the phrase "I'm gonna kill him." I am guilty of saying something like that, meaning he's in big trouble. What if he ended up missing and found murdered. All of a sudden someone remembers me saying that and it's awfully damning.

I thought the interview with the guy Jay worked with was odd because it just repeats stuff that was already spoken about on the podcast and I wasn't convinced that the guy had his own true memories. I did find it interesting that he mentioned jay being very scared of the person and almost as if there was a Pakistani mafia. I don't really associate the mafia-esque type people with Adnan. So maybe there was a third party involved, maybe an even longer shot and Jay knew Ronald Moore somehow. Hae's murder doesn't seem to me to have been done by either Adnan or Jay. (I don't even know if that's what I believe). Regarding the location of Hae's car. It was in a "park and Ride" am I correct in that? What if Jay passed it at some point she was missing and for some reason it stuck in his mind's eye? I don't know why Jay told the story he did, I don't know why he supposedly knew someone was planning to kill someone then help bury the body. Being a small time pot dealer, aka criminal element, does not equal in my mind getting involved in murder and cover ups. A supposedly decent guy, doesn't see a body and go help bury it. Then go on with their day/life. It seems like a made up story. Jay's version has always seemed very weird and concocted or maybe he just replaced Adnan for himself or someone else. That's what has disturbed me since I started listening to the story. I don't know if the answers are with Jay, but I think the cops gave him a pretty sweet deal to get out of other crimes then and later on, so he needs to stick with this version of events.

It was a good podcast and very interesting. I hope the innocence project comes up with something. It would be nice to have closure for all involved.

Aimee said...

Oh and Adnan does not have access to the show, but apparently his brother brings transcripts. However, his brother said he really has no idea how big it is in the outside world.

Liz, I am sorry to hear about your cousin. Did I miss a conversation about that or was that in reference to something that Bridget already knew?

Crys said...

My sister and I argue about this all the time. She is 100% innocent....I think probably but then there is always nagging why is he so unlucky. The irony of this is I was on a jury that convicted someone of murder and there was video and tons of witnesses and it still made me sick to give that guilty plea. I cried for a good month every time I thought about it. So you think I'd be totally with adnan because honestly the prosecutions case sucks...but it does feel a little odd how he is so unlucky. Anyway it was addicting but also sad because there is really no good ending...and Have no matter what is still dead, and adnan even though he is probably innocent is still in jail. Sometimes real life sucks!

Hannah said...

I found Serial fascinating, and I actually found out about it from your blog, so thanks! In the end, I don't think the evidence supports a conviction, but I'm also not sure if Adnan is innocent. Since this is a real case, I think it's just like real life. There are fuzzy details, competing accounts of the same events, lies, and shady behavior that may have nothing to do with the case but that affects how we might view the people involved.

Bridget said...

Liz, I had never thought of this case's parallels with your cousin's case.

Aimee, I agree with everything you just said. Here is a link to a post from Liz about her cousin's murder. There is probably a better post about the whole thing, but that one will get you started.

B-Rad said...

Josh from Southwest Video (the porn store) knows something we don't know. How convenient that he didn't know about Serial until last Friday.

Bridget said...

His story rang so false to me, even if his depiction of Jay made more sense than some of the other characterizations we've heard. It makes more sense that Jay would have been scared out of his mind at the idea of being brought in on a murder investigation. But it made so much less sense that he was afraid of the Pakistani - excuse me, "Arab" - mafia.

Liz Johnson said...

Thanks, Aimee. Here's the Cliff Notes version - my cousin was six weeks pregnant when she was stabbed to death in her home (with her six month-old baby in the other room). Her husband was at a soccer game for part of the night, but the time of death was never officially confirmed. After five years, he was eventually arrested, and there was a trial, and it ended in a hung jury (11 voting for guilty, 1 voting to acquit). After that, the DA offered a plea bargain and Raven (the husband) will be in prison for roughly two more years for "involuntary manslaughter."

News about the end of the case is HERE, and HERE is the ABC News coverage on it. There was also a Dateline episode on it HERE.

Liz Johnson said...

And I'm totally biased, but I think Raven is suuuuuper guilty and a sociopath. I would point to his physically abusive relationship with his second wife, bipolar diagnosis, and a half-million dollar life insurance policy that he tried to cash out before his wife had even been buried (and that eventually will be paid out to my aunt & uncle, since Raven was implicated in the murder with the plea). Their son is now 10 and in the custody of Raven's mom and stepdad.

Señora H-B said...

I wanted so badly for there to be a definitive conclusion even though I knew that there wouldn't be. That being said, I felt surprisingly satisfied by Sarah Koenig's way of wrapping it up.

I also would have had to vote to acquit. I am still appalled that the jurors were able to convict a kid on the word of another kid. There is just such a lack of evidence and so much reasonable doubt that it seems unconscionable to me to send someone to prison for life.


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