I Am the Night Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

The murder of Elizabeth Short, nicknamed the Black Dahlia by the tabloid press, took place on January 15, 1947, in Los Angeles. Cut in half, the body of a beautiful young girl was picturesquely laid out on a vacant lot near the then-city limits. The police investigation of the murder, involving the FBI, is the longest and most extensive in U.S. history. 22 people at different periods of the investigation were declared the killers of Elizabeth Short, among them one Dr. George Hodel, who in the late 40’s of the last century was accused of several crimes, but in all cases was acquitted. However, the story told in I Am the Night begins 18 years after the murder, in 1965.

16-year-old Pat Greenwade is an ordinary schoolgirl of color from a small town in Nevada. She studies during the day, works part-time at a hospital in the evening, dates a black boyfriend, fights with her mother who is too often attached to the bottle, and endures bullying and slanted glances from white people. The ordinary life of a half-blood child in the United States in the mid-60s. The problem is that Pat Greenwade’s skin is completely white, which leads to a host of mishaps. Pat, who is not accepted by either the black or white community to the end, tries to find out from her mother who her father was. One day she steals her birth certificate and learns that her real name is Fauna Hodel, she was adopted, and she has white relatives in Los Angeles. When Pat/Fauna travels to the City of Angels to discover the truth about her origins, she has no idea what abyss the journey will lead her into.


Despite the apparent absurdity of the Pat/Fauna story, it is almost entirely, with the exception of the last episode, realistic. I Am the Night is based on Fauna Hodel’s 2008 autobiography One Day She’ll Darken: The Mysterious Beginnings of Fauna Hodel, in which she recounts her adoption, early life and search for her biological parents. Fauna Hodel even acted as one of the producers of the series, but sadly did not live to see its premiere. The woman died in September 2017 from breast cancer.

Paralleling the Pat/Fauna story in I Am the Night is the developing story of rogue journalist Jay Singletary, a former Marine who fought in Korea and suffers from severe PTSD. The opposite is true here; despite the character’s seemingly hyper-realistic nature, he, unlike the girl, is completely fictionalized by the screenwriters.


The role of Jay Singletary in I Am the Night was played by Chris Pine (Outlaw King, Wonder Woman, Star Trek, The Finest Hours). Interestingly, the series was directed by Patty Jenkins, director of Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984, which starred Chris Pine, and written by Sam Sheridan, Jenkins’ husband. Not only that, but Pine and Jenkins became producers of the show, with Jenkins+Pine Productions, a company they own, handling the filming. This is such nepotism, however, close cooperation between the participants of the project went to the show only for the benefit of the series.


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Sam Sheridan and Patty Jenkins made the crazy story of Fauna Hodel into a film noir with some mysticism, and Chris Pine’s character fits perfectly into this story as an honest journalist/detective who suffered for his excessive curiosity. Typical bottom-feeding noir hero.


In general, Chris Pine’s performance in I Am the Night was probably the best of his career. As it turned out, he is not bad at all in dramatic roles, however, it was evident in Outlaw King. India Isley, who you may have seen in The Secret Life of the American Teenager or Underworld: Awakening, where she played Eve, Selene’s daughter, also deserves compliments. Indya looks very natural in the role of a teenage girl unsure of her identity, her character develops in an interesting way over the course of the series. Hopefully, after the release of I Am the Night this actress will get some interesting offers.

The backdrop for the dramatic events of the series was the movement for black equality in the United States and specifically the civil unrest in Los Angeles in August 1965. Only three years from the time of Green Book, but already completely different moods and actions.


However, the attempt of I Am the Night authors to cram into one project all the topical issues – sex crimes, racism, post-traumatic stress disorder, corruption, police brutality – does not seem to be to the show’s benefit. There are simply too many of them for one small series, even with hour-long episodes, and they detract a bit from the main story.

Another problem with I Am the Night is the somewhat loose handling of facts. George Hodel fled the U.S. in 1950 and lived in the Philippines for 40 years, where he started a new family, his fourth. He returned to the U.S. only in 1990, which means that he could not physically participate in the events shown in the movie. Although Steve Hodel, George’s son, suggests that his father may have secretly returned to the U.S. in the late 1960s, there is no reliable evidence of this.

However, I Am the Night is still not a police report, but a work of fiction, albeit based on real events. And as a thriller, the series is really not bad. It has a dark, lingering atmosphere in the spirit of True Detective, there is a bright style of the 60’s, there are good actors and there is a crime that has not been solved so far.


A thriller that sheds light on one of the most famous unsolved murders of the 20th century

Dark, lingering atmosphere in the vein of film noir; ’60s style; convincing acting by India Isley and Chris Pine

The series takes a bit of liberties with the facts; atomizes attention by introducing a few additional themes

I Am the Night movie meanng

Thriller genre
Creator Sam Sheridan
Starring India Isley (Fawna Hodel), Chris Pine (Jay Singletary), Jefferson Mays (Dr. George Hodel), Jamie Anne Allman (Tamar Hodel), Connie Nielsen (Corinna Hodel), Leland Orser (Peter Sullivan), Yul Vazquez (Bilis), Golden Brooks (Jimmy Lee Greenwade), and more.
TNT Channel
Year of release 2019
Episodes 6
IMDb Websites

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