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'The Case Against Adnan Syed,' Episode 3: Yep. Still Guilty

By Dustin Rowles | TV | March 27, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | March 27, 2019 |


The moment between when the credit roll on a movie and you get out of your seat until that moment you arrive in the lobby and ask your buddy, “What’d you think?” is typically when one’s opinion of that movie is highest. Because as soon as you start talking about the film with someone else — or having a conversation with yourself about it — that opinion starts to unravel. “Yeah, but what about that plot hole?” Or, “His performance was not very good,” or “the third act had some major problems” or “that song choice was too on the nose.”

That’s sort of how I felt for about 20 seconds after watching the third episode of HBO’s The Case Against Adnan Syed. For a brief moment, I thought, “Huh. Maybe Adnan is innocent” … and then I thought about it for about 15 seconds.

While the third episode doesn’t exactly provide any major revelations (save for one, which again is straw-grasping), it does do a solid job of convincing the viewer that Jay Wilds was lying his ass off, and that the police helped Jay shape his story. But also, like, no sh*t. At this point, after Serial, after Jay’s Intercept interview, after the Undisclosed podcast, and after The Case Against Adnan Syed, it’s bloody obvious that Jay lied. He’s provided multiple versions of his timeline, in the police interview, during the first trial, and the second trial, and the Intercept interview. It also seems fairly likely that the police coached him, molded his story, and gave Jay a sweet deal with no jail time in exchange for that testimony.

It’s all so confusing at this point because there are so many timelines — including that of Adnan — plus cell phone pings, which seems to establish a completely different timeline. Jay’s testimony about where the murder took place, and when Hae Min Lee’s body was buried is also inconsistent. Where did the trunk pop happen? Who the hell knows at this point? For the purposes of a trial, Jay is wildly unreliable and clearly had something to gain — in the form of no jail time — by providing the prosecutors with the account that they wanted, and his testimony should have been stricken.

Ultimately, however, in the court of public opinion — and as it pertains to Adnan’s guilt — it doesn’t really change anything. Jay and Adnan were together. Jenn’s original story has never changed, even as Jay’s has, and while Jay obviously had a reason to lie, Jenn never has, and Jenn told her story before there was any opportunity fabricate or mold it.

This episode, while also concentrating on Jay’s inconsistencies (and trying to drum up a conspiracy involving anti-Korean hatred) also tried to poke holes in the stories of Jenn and Kristi. They didn’t get anywhere with Jenn — the closest they got was getting Jenn to say, “I wish I’d never been involved in this to begin with … I don’t want to talk to anyone about it anymore, and I wish I’d never agreed to talk to you … and yes, Jay is a lying liar who lies, but so what, it doesn’t change my story.”

Things get really wild when they try to make the case that Jenn and Kristi were telling the truth, but that their account of events were from a different day completely. Why? Because Jay and Adnan couldn’t have gone to Kristi’s house on the night of January 13th — as she had originally testified — because Kristi was in class. How do they know that? Because of a 20-year-old class schedule of a night class that was only held on three nights, and if Kristi had missed a class, how could she have gotten a B in that class?

That’s the doc’s foundation for proving that Kristi and Jenn’s accounts took place in a different day, and they even do a number on Kristi, gaslighting her into doubting her own story. Never mind that the class could have been postponed. Or nevermind that Kristi could have skipped a class and still gotten a B. Also, never mind all the other evidence, which establishes that these events took place on January 13th, like the fact that the only time Jenn ever spoke to Jay on Adnan’s phone was the 13th, as evidenced by cell phone records.

Jay told Jenn about the murder when she picked him up at Best Buy, before the police were in any way involved. She picked him up on the 13th, which we know because it’s the only day she received calls from Jay on Adnan’s phone, and we know that it was the 13th because of cell phone records indicating that Jenn received calls from Adnan’s phone, and because Adan SAID that he gave Jay his phone that day. Jenn led the police to Jay, who implicated Adnan and eventually led police to Hae’s car. End of story. And guess what, folks? Jenn’s story — the original story — lines up with the cell phone pings.

It doesn’t mean that Jay was telling the whole truth, and it is quite possible that he was far more involved in Hae Min’s murder than he let on. Maybe he was an accomplice in the murder — and not just after the fact — and maybe he tailored his story for the police to escape the murder charge. It doesn’t change the fact that Jay helped Adnan kill Hae Min Lee. Is it fair that Jay got off with no jail time while Adnan is still in prison? Absolutely not. But it doesn’t mean that Adnan did not kill Hae Min.

In next week’s finale: I guess we’ll find out the results of the grass study.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: HBO