Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ramblings on Serial

SPOILER ALERT

In the spirit of the podcast, I'm not just going to write my thoughts, I'm going to say why I'm writing this in the first place. It has been a while since I've written anything here, and it's starting to look neglected. Tonight, I'm having dinner with friends and Serial has already been decided as the topic of conversation. Maybe this is just to organize my thoughts, or maybe this will empty my well for the conversation tonight. Either way, time to empty out my brain.

If you haven't listened to the last episode of Serial, stop reading, then do one of two things. Listen to the final episode, or, if you haven't even been listening, you should re-assess our entire relationship. I have not let a conversation go by without mentioning it. I have merely suggested giving the first episode a try, then moving on if you like it. So you've either started listening and were honestly not immediately hooked, in which case I can recommend several therapists, or you ignored my advice, in which case fuck you. There is one good expection to this, which is the friend who gave a pretty convincing moral argument against getting entertainment value from talking about a girls murder. You know who you are. Everyone else, you're on my list.

I'd like to point out for the record, that is a shit list, not a death list, you know, just in case someone decides to use this as evidence in my murder trial.


That's maybe the scariest part of the podcast, how the prosecution was able to take normal behavior and twist into the portrait of a psychopath. In the middle of the series, Deirdre talks about how unlikely psychopaths are, yet that's the tack the prosecution took against Adnan. (oh yeah, I'm also not going to explain anything to you. If you don't know who Adnan is, why are you reading this?) Hearing them paint this picture makes me think of how Marilyn Manson was blamed for Columbine or the opening scene of Shawshank.

It really does make you think how easily people judge what they don't understand. And those people sit on juries. When I was in escrow, I learned the hard way the law has nothing to do with what's written; it's about how far people can push before it's worth it to you to spend the money on a lawyer. And now I realize just how ignorant I was of the criminal justice system. It's all about jury perception. Detectives want to catch the guy, so they go after the most likely suspect and do everything they can to make it stick. If the evidence seems strong, the prosecution offers a plea deal. Only then, when the case is air tight, and the defendant won't take a deal, does the case go to court. That's what a defendant is fighting against.

Lawyers don't have the resources to research for a year on one case, so Adnan is the beneficiary of a lot more scrutiny than most in his place get. Unfortunately, what comes of that are two flimsy versions of what could have happened. Either Adnan is guilty, and justice prevailed, despite the flimsiest of cases because, as Dana says, if Adnan is innocent he is the victim of historically terrible luck. Or Deirdre has found a serial killer with a history of killing Korean girls.

And here we have my two favorite characters on the show at odds with each other. So let's reconcile the stories. Now, I'm going way out on a limb here. I am not a lawyer or a journalist, and I have ZERO credibility. This is a theory, based on available evidence, with a huge what if thrown in.

Let's say Adnan is innocent, then we go straight to why Jay turned on him, and why Jay knew where Hae's car was. And let's look at Jay where he is now. If Adnan is innocent, he is living a life seemingly free of guilt, despite having put his buddy in prison. And despite being innocent, Adnan has come to terms with his punishment. He says it's because this never would have happened if he was just a good, little Muslim, but I'm not bound by ethics here, so let's assume there could be some deeper reason. So let's deconstruct Jay's story.

Right off the bat, it makes no sense. If Adnan is a calculated psychopath, who plotted out giving Jay is cell phone, asking Hae for a ride, driving around Baltimore, then being back in time for track practice, would he really have just blurted out at the mall that he's going to kill that bitch? And even if he was, how the hell would Jay just go along with it? If Adnan just showed up with a body, caught Jay off guard, and pressured him into helping, I'd buy that. But according to his own story, Jay went days with this information, did nothing to stop it, and told no one, not even Jen. That, to me, unravels the whole story.

But Jay knew where the car was, and for the important parts, Jay's story matches the phone records. So here's my theory:

Adnan didn't say, "I'm gonna kill that bitch." He said, "I'm gonna get that bitch."

If Adnan was taking the break up harder than he let on, maybe he decided to play with her a little. Imagine a little kid gets yelled at by a teacher then leaves flaming dog poop on their doorstep. Adnan got Jay to agree to help fuck with her a little, punish her for how he treated her. Maybe the plan was to ask her for a ride, drop her in Leakin Park, and let her fend for herself, then Jay helps him stash her car. And then the ghost of Franz Kafka sends someone else to kill her. Maybe it was this serial killer. Maybe it was whoever was drinking from one of those bottles.

So Jay tells no one because it's fucked up, but it's no big deal. And Adnan is purposeful about his movements because he wasn't entirely innocent that day. Then Hae disappears and the two boys are trapped by their own idiocy. Of course, someone creepy would be hanging around Leakin Park. Maybe they didn't think it through as much as they thought they did.

When she's found dead, they freak. Jay concocts this story because he knows enough to cut a deal. Adnan stays quiet because he knows he made himself a suspect. To this day, Jay doesn't really feel guilty because Adnan brought this on himself. Adnan never tells his side because he is hyper aware of anytning that could make him seem guilty, and the truth is so absurd, no one would believe the coincidence.

But that's why I like this theory so much. It's absurd. Of course, it didn't happen that way. My story has as many holes as Jay's and as Adnan's and as Jen's and Asia's and mostly the prosecution's.

Deirdre says a psychopath is unlikely, then she goes and finds a serial killer. She says, big picture, it makes more sense for a guy with priors to have done it than an innocent kid with not even a scratch on his image. The prosecution's answer is that Adnan is a psychopath living a double life.

And a jury bought it.

All the details don't matter because at the end of the day, twelve people so easily believed such an absurd story. A drug dealer says an honor roll student is secretly a psychopath, and that made enough sense to convict him. If you listen to Sarah's ending monologue, there's a section she throws in there where she attacks the jury directly, and good for her. Too often, and in too many aspects of our media saturated world, we don't question what people in authority tell us. This fancy lawyer says he's a calculated killer, like in the movies, and that becomes as much a fact as a 2:22 call to Nisha's phone.

I have two basic rules of debate. One, the first one who gets personal (or aggressive) already lost the argument. Two, if you have to cite the Nazis as your example, you need to re-think your point. In the vein of the second, I want to put into words what should be plainly obvious:

If you're on a jury, and the only way the prosecutions story makes any sense is to paint the defendant as something as unlikely as a psychopath, they better supply equally outlandish evidence to back it up.

Not all facts are equal.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Aaron said...

Many people will be upset when they find out that there is no "end" to this podcast. What I like to take from it is what you said about juries and that it should be a real learning lesson for all of us in thinking about how our criminal justice system works. Detectives shouldn't be rewarded for putting people away, but for getting to the bottom of what REALLY happened. And if they exhaust all information as is done in this case (by Serial), and they haven't found anything then they should first and foremost not prosecute anyone as opposed to formulating some prosecution to put a seemingly innocent man in jail. And even if Adnan did do it, then well... He would have got away with one. And that scares me too, but I think I'd rather err on that side of things. I dont know, maybe I'm being insensitive to killers being on the loose. Anyway too often perception of emotion is taken as fact in these trails. And maybe if this trial takes place in Mississippi with all white jurors, Jay doesn't come across as looking as trustworthy(or maybe he does). I'm not trying to slander Jay or say the black jury screwed this up. I just mean in any jury situation, in the absence of fact, there lies room for exterior factors such as perception of race, perception of emotion, perception of language used to be brought forward as evidence. Which scares me a little.

As for your explanation I really like it, and I'm going to steal it. I think everyone can agree that there's something... SOMETHING. That Adnan knows. And that Jay knows. That is being hid that would make it all clear. But they're both smart enough to know that at this point the cant' admit it. Adnan is hoping for a serial killer. And Jay is hoping for inconclusive evidence. And I will still be funding the second season of Serial because well... The More You Know...

December 18, 2014 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger Daroff said...

I would love to get updates as time goes on, but they've pretty much said season 2 is a whole new story.

Maybe they'll have a little segment in each new episode for Adnan updates. I mean, there are no length constraints on each episode, so they can throw in anything they want.

December 18, 2014 at 2:18 PM  

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