[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the final episode of the TNT miniseries I Am the Night. Read at your own risk!]
I Am the Night wrapped its run by finally allowing its hero, Fauna Hodel (India Eisley), to face off against her menacing grandfather, George (Jefferson Mays), and assert herself to be the woman she wanted to be all along. Over the five previous episodes, the audience watched Fauna find out she's not the person she thought she was and struggle to find the truth about who she actually is and where she came from. The more answers she found, the more questions she had, and the mysterious string of her past seemed to only lead to a path of darkness.
After finding her birth mother in the penultimate episode, Fauna tried to return to the family who raised her only to be intercepted by the Hodels and held captive by George in his creepy torture mansion. Now aware that her grandfather is a murderer, Fauna went toe to toe with him in the basement of the house, defying his desire to make her another one of his dolls to play with.
That moment of empowerment enabled Fauna to claim her identity as she saw fit, reconnect with her original family, and move forward from the trauma of finding the Hodels. Things even worked out for Jay (Chris Pine), though he missed out on getting his revenge against George when the alleged murderer escaped following his showdown with Fauna.
I Am the Night star India Eisley spoke to TV Guide about bringing Hodel's story to life and what she hopes fans took away from the series after the epic conclusion.
What was your reaction to reading the end of this series and seeing that Fauna managed to make it out of this horrific situation relatively unscathed?
India Eisley: Having read Fauna's book and knowing her daughters and stuff, I did know that she did make it out all right. But obviously playing it and getting to play it with the other actors that she is moving forward, especially the scene with Jimmy Lee, when I'm good seeing her with her parents at the end — that was one of my favorite scenes to film because it was very subtle. ... It really just showed how she's overcome it. That was a moment where I read it in the script and I was like, "Oh my God. That's just so, so unbelievably great." And it's such a strong moment. Even for Jimmy Lee as well. It's just such a powerful moment.
One of my favorite scenes in this entire series is when Fauna finally gets to confront George Hodel. For most of the series it felt like she was wandering in the dark the whole time, then finally she gets to be like, "F--- you," and stand up for herself. Can you talk about what it was like filming that?
Eisley: Oh my God... There were two scenes really, in particular. Down in the basement that just — I remember getting them and I was like, "Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes. This is gonna be a blast." ... I couldn't wait to see what Jefferson was gonna do and how menacing he was going to be, and how far he was gonna push it. We did many different versions of it and many takes. And each take was just an absolute blast. And as an actor, those kinds of really intense emotionally packed, dark things, those always very appeal to me greatly. Throughout the series, [Fauna] is quite — even though she's going through these extreme circumstances — she's quite even-keeled for the most part and very kind of levelheaded. She's kind of the straight one in this entire series. ... I've always played kind of the mentally unstable one and the crazy one. So, it was almost like I got the scene and I was like, "Yes, finally. I get to have an erratic moment." I was very, very looking forward to that.
Why did that scene feel so important for the character of Fauna through the course of her journey?
Eisley: Oh, I mean, it's the ultimate kind of standoff between the two of them. It's basically the person that's responsible for her identity being. Even from birth, because of the nature of how screwed up the family was even before she was born. What she was brought into, it was all down to him. So, she's sitting opposite this man that's responsible for not only her life being completely up in the air and her identity being completely just [changed]. He's responsible for her entire family being so unbelievably screwed...
It's really a turning point, where she goes to him [and says], "I'm a strong, independent person." And, not even strong, independent woman. It's, "I'm an independent entity and I'm overcoming what you've created." To a kind of person like him who has such an inflated ego and so deranged, that's like the ultimate insult. And ultimate slap in the face is, "Yeah, what you've done and what you're doing is not affecting me."
The end of the series is a little bit heartbreaking in only one regard: the fact that Fauna and Jay are separated. I know that Jay is a composite character, but in the world of I Am the Night, do you feel like that letter is their last correspondence or do you think there's hope that they have a relationship within the context of the show?
Eisley: It's such a tricky question, 'cause when we were filming I was curious about that. I was like, "I wonder if they would ever go on and meet up later on or something, or their paths would cross." ... Life is so strange. You can run into people and they can be someone you thought you were never going to hear from again or never gonna talk to again and they end up becoming dear friends. I would like to think that when they're older and stuff that they have some kind of correspondence and friendship. You never know. But, realistically, maybe not. That might have been their last correspondence, really. Me being in the romanticized mindset, I'm like, "That would have been lovely if they could just chill out and not be in such shitty circumstances and be friends."
What has been the most inspiring part for you of telling Fauna's story in this miniseries?
Eisley: I think honestly knowing that Fauna for years and years and years was trying to get her story out there and it just, for one reason or another, would fall through. People weren't aware of it. It's such an otherworldly, one-of-a-kind story of strength, really. I think I'm just really proud to be a part of people honoring insight into what a strong soul she had, and still continues to have, because it does live through her daughters. ... I'm just proud to be a part of making people aware of her story, because I think it is going be helpful for people to really look into her life separate of the show, how she could help a lot of people that are in difficult circumstances. Because she really is a template of what we could all strive to be, which is independent.