It’s been a few weeks since we checked in with Serial, the Internet’s favorite true crime podcast. Let’s check in with Serial.
First of all, since the last time we talked, everything happened. Serial blew up between its seventh and eighth episodes and the Internet suddenly got flooded with backlash-y think pieces about the show, almost all of which were somehow titled “The Problem With Serial” even though they each covered a different problem, because people have a hard time just relaxing and enjoying things. That’s not to say there were no valid criticisms in the pieces. Yes, there are some inherent difficulties when an upper class white narrator drops in and examines the inner workings of Muslim and Asian communities. Okay, we may all be speeding toward an end point that provides us with no satisfying conclusion. And sure, it is a little icky sometimes to remember that this all centers on a real teenage girl getting strangled and buried in a park, and that our charismatic protagonist may have been the one who did it. But, I mean, dang, Internet. Sometimes you need to chill out a little.
Also, the show officially got picked up for a second season and someone mashed-up the theme with “Wrecking Ball,” and I have not been able to get it out of my head for weeks. So that happened, too.
As for the actual podcast itself, there have been three more episodes: “The Deal with Jay,” “To Be Suspected,” and “The Best Defense is a Good Defense.” Each one continued Serial‘s practice of zeroing in on a different piece of the case, so it would probably be best if we discussed them in turn.
“The Deal with Jay” covered, well, the deal with Jay, Adnan’s friend/dealer at the time and the prosecution’s star witness against him in the trial. There’s been something weird and fishy about Jay and his evolving, hole-filled story from the beginning, and there is almost no end to the list of questions the amateur sleuths in the Serial reddit forum have about him. Despite all that, when narrator Sarah Koenig interviewed members of the jury and a retired detective, no one raised any real red flags. Between this and the thing where Jay refused to be interviewed on tape (I wouldn’t have particularly wanted to be interviewed by an experienced reporter with a wildly popular podcast who is digging up dirt on me from 15 years ago and more or less accusing me of perjury either, but still), this episode was frustrating enough to make me scream.
Next up, “To Be Suspected,” which dealt with two issues: some new evidence that recently came to Koenig’s attention, and Adnan’s mindset back when he was investigated and arrested. The former poked more holes in Jay’s story. Lots of them. Some related to whether there were or were not pay phones in front of the Best Buy at the time. (Reminder: this story is extremely 1999 sometimes.) Some related to witnesses seeing both Adnan and Hae at times that would indicate they couldn’t have been together at the time Jay said they were. This is where I would say “the plot thickens” if the plot were not already a fully congealed gloppy blob sitting on the counter. The plot could stand to have a little water added to it is what I’m saying.
Finally, “The Best Defense is a Good Defense” got into the curious case of Adnan’s lawyer, Christina Gutierrez, who is the second most interesting person in the story for my money, sliding in behind Jay. A one-time hotshot defense attorney who apparently developed money and health problems by the time the trial rolled around, she is another parade of question marks, many of which will never be turned into periods due to her death in 2004. She never looked into the Asia call, she may have let her abrasive personality cause a mistrial the first time around (which some felt was headed toward a not guilty verdict), and she ended up getting disbarred shortly after. Although she did uncover the fact that Jay’s lawyer was working for him pro bono after the prosecution had put them together, which is sooooooooooooooo weird. This case, man.
That about catches us up. I still have no idea what or who to believe, exactly. And Koenig teased the next installment, “Rumors,” by ending this week’s episode with a bit about Adnan’s status that closed with, “Because, you know, what if he’s a psychopath, right?” That’s the elephant in the room in all of this. If he did do it, and he’s presenting his innocence in such a friendly and charming manner, then something really creepy is going on here.
What do y’all think? Share your theories/rants/etc. below.