Thursdays are about to get less mysterious. Since the Oct. 4 premiere of Serial — a podcast spin-off from the creators of This American Life — co-creator Sarah Koenig has been unspooling the 1999 murder case of high school senior Hae Min Lee and the ambiguous conviction of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed. On Dec. 18, the show wraps up its first season.
Spoiler alert: If you’re not caught up on the most downloaded podcast in iTunes history, stop what you’re doing right now and join the party. But mostly, just stop reading right now. You’ve been warned.
After 11 episodes, let’s face it, the only thing we really know for sure is that we may never know what really happened on that January school day in Baltimore County, Maryland. With only hours until the finale, there are a few loose ends dangling.
1. Did Adnan do it?
Also known as the biggest question. There is no satisfying conclusion to this story. This is real life, not Law & Order. But we can hope for a narrative that tries to come up with an answer. The cell towers didn’t line up. Key witness Jay couldn’t keep his story straight. The Best Buy may or may not have had a pay phone. But then there’s that damning Nisha call and the parts of Jay’s story that did stay consistent and Adnan’s lack of a clear alibi. Is the former Homecoming King with “giant brown eyes like a dairy cow” the one who strangled Hae?
2. What is the big rumor that Koenig dismisses in Episode 11?
The Peabody-winning journalist hints at something about Adnan that, if it were true, would collapse his entire case and all of her efforts. After she tracks down the person integral to this rumor, all she gets is a lousy, blank stare. But what was the piece of critical-but-apparently-debunked evidence?
3. Where did the Innocence Project go?
In episode seven, listeners were introduced to the Innocence Project Clinic at the University of Virginia School of Law. The group of budding esquires and their fearless leader Deirdre Enright filed a motion to test DNA evidence from Hae, collected in a rape kit. The group’s record certainly is impressive. There have been 321 DNA-related exonerations in the U.S. since 1989. In a case filled with this many holes and questions, Koenig could use those odds. And so could we. So where’d you go, Deirdre Enright? We miss you so.
4. What’s the deal with Adnan’s appeal?
By January 14, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals will let Adnan know if he can make a case to appeal his life sentence. (This will be Adnan’s third attempt at clearing his name, after a mistrial and two appeals.) His case rests on the argument that his lawyer, the late Cristina Gutierrez, who was later disbarred, represented him ineffectively. Unfortunately, when that decision is made, Koenig will be onto a new mystery.
5. So what can we expect from season two?
Another great story, told week by week! That’s all we know for now. The producers don’t know when the season will air or what that story will be. But Koenig and her team will begin working on it as soon as this season ends.
6. What if I just can’t wait until the finale?
Well, you have to. By now, you know the next episode won’t be posted until the wee hours of Thursday. But if you really can’t part with tales from Woodlawn High, there are a few podcasts about the podcast to keep your appetite satiated: Serial Theories and Spoilers, Slate’s Spoiler Specials, Conversations on the Serial, and The Serial Serial. There is also a parody podcast.
Still hungry? Take in Cereal, a spoof about a missing bowl of Fruity Pebbles, “told bowl by bowl.”
7. Will that girl ever learn to pronounce Mail Chimp?
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