Next week is the final episode of the mega-hit podcast Serial. And though the podcast is coming to an end, the questions about who killed Hae Min Lee are not.
The podcast that made Adnan Syed a household name will end its 12-part story next week when the final episode is released on December 18. Fans of the show (nearly 5 million of them, according to the latest numbers), have walked the week-by-week journey with NPR’s Sarah Koenig for the last few months in hopes that by episode 12 we would find out whether or not Adnan Syed killed Hae Min Lee. Unless Koenig has an ace up her sleeve, our guess is that it’s unlikely we will get any new, credible, revealing information that points to Adnan, Jay or anyone else being the true perpetrator of this crime.
After investing so much time in this exciting and emotional series, there are quite a few questions that we as fans are hoping to find out by next week’s final episode. Here are just a few.
1. What has the Innocence Project discovered about the case?
In an earlier episode of Serial, Koenig went to Deirdre Enright, the director of investigation at the University of Virginia’s School of Law, about the case, hoping that she could, at the very least, lend some advice. It turns out Enright decided to take on the case as part of the Innocence Project. Just earlier this week, the Innocence Project of Ohio was victorious in the release of three men who were wrongly convicted for a murder in the ’70s. These men spent 39 years in jail based on the testimony of one 12 year old boy who says detectives were pressuring him to blame the men. It would seem odd to mention that the Innocence Project would take on this case and never mention it on the show again.
2. Where is Don, Hae’s boyfriend, when she was murdered?
We briefly heard about Don, Hae’s boyfriend, at the time she was murdered. Don, who isn’t really mentioned that much overall, had an “iron clad” alibi according to Koenig: his manager at Lens Crafters confirmed he was working during the time frame in which Hae presumably was killed. Koenig has interviewed every random person that had any connection to this case, but why not interview the person who was arguably the closest with Hae at the time of her murder? What’s Don up to now? What was his reaction to her death? In one episode, Koenig mentions that the night before Hae’s murder, Hae wrote in her diary that she can see herself having Don’s children. Is the confirmation from a manager enough of an alibi to rule him completely out, even for Koenig?
3. Did Hae actually die on January 13, 1999?
One thing that is most surprising about this entire season of Serial is that Koenig, who has spent the entire season highlighting the holes and inconsistencies of the State’s case against Adnan, uses the State’s concept that Hae was dead on January 13, 1999 by 2:36 p.m. as the center of her investigation. There’s never a moment where Koenig says, “Wait, if there are all these other problems with the case, including the inaccurate time line of the cell phone calls, then maybe the timing of the death is wrong, too?” Call us crazy here, but if Hae maybe wasn’t dead by 2:36 p.m., the second season of Serial could be Sarah and her producers re-investigating everything they thought they were looking for already.
4. Okay, was there a phone at Best Buy or not?
In 2014 where every person has a camera in their pocket, it’s hard to imagine that there’s any ambiguity about whether or not there was a physical pay phone outside of a Best Buy. As Koenig points out, if there wasn’t, it changes Jay’s testimony, and actually the entire timeline of the events that happened that afternoon. It would be wonderful if we got a concrete “yes” or “no” about this in the final episode.
5. What was the big rumor Sarah investigated in the beginning of episode 11?
This week, right off the bat, Koenig opens with her investigation of a rumor about Adnan’s character. She teases us about it just enough before revealing that when she went to Baltimore to confirm whether it was true or not, she found out it was unsubstantiated. Koenig even describes the let-down with vivid imagery, saying that she “stamps” her files “unsubstantiated” and moves on. But, what was the rumor? She has given us confirmation/rejections on rumors this entire season, then she finds a juicy one but doesn’t tell us what it is? Not only that, but it was peculiar that Koenig moved along based on the minor reaction of the person with whom she was asking. Is a simple reaction enough for her to put this apparently major detail aside?
6. Who does Sarah think killed Hae?
Koenig admits that she goes back and forth about whether or not she thinks Adnan is guilty (as do we, as the audience). But we’ve hit the end of the road with her reporting when next week’s episode is released. After a year of research, 12 episodes, and a couple months of pop culture clamoring, including an appearance last night on The Colbert Report, where has Sarah Koenig landed with her final opinion about the case? And sorry, we can’t take “I don’t know” as an answer because we’ve invested way too much in this for you, our investigator, to not have an opinion!
7. Why is this the last episode?
Serial fans are disappointed to know that next week will be the last Thursday they’ll wake up to a new podcast about what happened in Baltimore in 1999. With so many unanswered questions, with so much interest in the show now, why end it here? Surely, this story can’t be finished given the week-by-week discoveries and the surfacing of new details as a result of the podcast itself.
8. What will season 2 of Serial be like?
After crowd funding for another season, Koenig announced on a previous episode that there will in fact be a second “season” of Serial to come. What it will be about, when it will be investigated, and when it will be released is still up in the air (remember, it took Koenig over a year to complete her reporting about this case). It would be great to know what’s next. Could it be a continued investigation of this case? It seems like fans wouldn’t mind that at all.
9. Why did the prosecutor help Jay get a lawyer?
This was mentioned in episode 10, and yes, as Koenig mentions, most of us had our jaws on the ground. But why? Did Koenig dig any deeper with that information aside from the fact that it was dismissed in court and that Adnan’s lawyer basically “fucked it up?” There must be more to the story than that. Why did the police believe Jay was more credible when he was involved with the crime and Adnan has pleaded his innocence since day one?
10. Lastly, did Adnan kill Hae?
Okay, of course this is the ultimate question. It’s the question that keeps the millions of fans downloading and listening every week. But, it has to be asked because we all want a conclusion to this intoxicatingly addictive story. If you know what’s been going on with Adnan’s case outside of this podcast, you may already have a hunch. But, let’s hope that by December 18 we could get an answer of some kind.
It’s important to remember that this case isn’t the latest episode of True Detective. It’s not a psychological thriller starring Ben Affleck like Gone Girl. It’s real life with real people involved. The expectation as a mass media consumption culture is that we will get a result or a verdict or an answer to something that has entertained us for months (like a TV show). But, that may not be the case when the final episode is released next week — and that’s okay. We must applaud Sarah Koenig for not just entertaining us with these real-life facts, but doing such an amazing and thorough job at investigating this case for over a year and then bringing it to the forefront of pop culture in a truthful and revealing way.
So will we find out if Adnan Syed is innocent, should be released from prison, and whether or not the girl ever gets around to pronouncing “Mail Chimp” correctly? As Koenig puts it…
“Next time, on Serial.”
Do you think Adnan is guilty or innocent? Leave your theories in the comments below!