Episode 11: Rumors
This week's episode is a character study on Adnan, and a bit of a response to both rumors that have been spread throughout the Baltimore Muslim community and the question of character from people online. Adnan has become a cautionary tale for people at the mosque, parents have grown more protective of their children, many don't want to speak speak about the case at all or identify themselves when discussing it with Sarah due to the fear of backlash.
The rumors of Adnan's character run rampant, though the only one with any grain of truth is that he stole money from the collection at mosque when he was 13. Not in the thousands the caller had described, but closer to less than $100. Adnan gets really upset about the rumors of him stealing large sums of money, it's the last straw after he's been putting up with Sarah's many questions. It has nothing to do with the case, and he has never claimed to be a perfect or even good person. He's upset that he's being scrutinized so closely while others are not.
While some people see the petty theft has a huge character flaw, others see it more as no big deal. As with everything in this case, there are two ways to interpret every action that has taken place. Lots of people describe Adnan as an upstanding guy, but some remark that it's that very image which makes him duplicitous.
Charles Ewing, a forensic psychologist, is brought in and asked about the personality of murderers and psychopaths. He makes a point to spell out that murderers are not always psychopaths and psychopaths are not always murderers. Most commonly, murder is not a premeditated act but is done in the heat of the moment. But in the eyes of the law, thinking about the possibility of murdering someone counts as being a pre-meditation.
Many cannot see Adnan planning something like this out (which goes against Jay's testimony). Jane Ephron, Hae and Adnan's English teacher and best British accent on the show, believes that if he did it it was more likely a crime of passion. Ewing then goes on to explain the dissociative state murderers can go through in which they black out in the moment of action, completely blocking the act from memory. This is true for about 50% of the cases he has studied.
We cannot reach a conclusion on whether or not Adnan is a psychopath, and Sarah does not believe he fits the profile. He's a personable and adaptable guy, which cuts against the theory. But there are no hard and fast rules on whether maintaining innocence is proof of innocence.
Adnan is a smart and careful guy, he doesn't talk about the other people involved is because anything he says can be brought up in court against him. And he knows that there is nothing he can do to sway a person's strong opinion about him either way. He is a normal guy, neither a monster or a victim. Adnan wrote an 18 page letter to Sarah, which swings back and forth as much as the story set up by Sarah has so far. He wants to be seen as a person, not a monster, and he has reached that point inside prison; but the interviews and questions has thrown all of that off balance.
Next week is the final episode, and end to Serial but of course not an end to the lives uprooted by it. We'll get to see how this is handled.
And ICYMI, here is Sarah's interview on the Colbert Report last night: