BY ASJAD KHAN, TORONTO:
Netflix’s “Killer Inside – The mind of Aaron Hernandez” tells the stories of high profile murder cases against the New England Patriots player and how the NFL player goes from being a star to a convicted murderer. The docu-series is presented through interviews with friends, other players and also people close to him. It talks about a young professional at the peak of his career who has just signed a multi-million dollar player and his supposedly hidden sexuality. The impact of the sport he plays on his brain. A broken family. A supportive fiancée and a family member. A victim who is linked to the killer via his girlfriend. Stories of being part of gangs.
The three-part series, unfortunately, loses the track in this maze. The case is complicated. The motive of the murder(s) remains unknown. There is conjecture about the victim Odin Lloyd outing him but there is no actual evidence of it. Directed by Geno McDermott, the series takes you into varying directions, but each has its own dead end. And leaves us with more questions than answers.
Rarely did Hernandez his temper. Some might label him a gentle giant. He was living ‘the American dream’. Had a loving fiancé and a daughter he loved. His family relationships fractured yet present especially her ailing cousin. The total opposite of what one would expect to be a cold-blooded murderer.
Hernandez’s childhood also comes into consideration. A homophobic hard-man father is depicted as a reason for his outbursts. A former sexual partner from early teens, who discusses how they were terrified of being outed in front of their dads. Another fellow football player affirms that being an American footballer is seen as an antithesis of being gay. The culture is toxic.
Soon after his father passes away during routine surgery, his mother begins a relationship with a close family member. The documentary tells us that this has a profound impact on Hernandez’. He becomes close to that relative of his and spends most of his time at their house. The suggestion is that lack of supervision leads him to go towards the “dark side”.
There is also a discussion about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).. Experts confirm that Hernandez’s brain was damaged significantly. It is difficult to create co-relation between his actions and the damage but it is a factor. Yet nothing concrete.
Another aspect touches upon the celebrity culture at work. Being a superstar, he behaves like he was beyond any form of punishment and will get away with it. Even when his own lawyers confirmed that he was there at the scene of the murder.
All this comes crashing down with news of his suicide. The documentary spares us the details but it is well known that Hernandez planned it meticulously and ensured there was little chance of anyone saving him.
The reasons for suicide are speculative. A journalist had ‘outed’ him by claiming that he had a boyfriend in jail. Another theory was that his suicide meant the clearing of his name (due to an archaic law) and hence money for his family. But as a viewer, it feels a bit confusing. The documentary possibly due to the nature of the case is unable to take any direction and becomes convoluted.
The basis of the series is telephonic conversations from the jail between Hernandez and with his family, agent and others. There were some hard to digest moments like him trying to build a connection with her daughter and other instances which were simply intolerable, like when he confronts his mother about the past and desire of his money. Does a convicted killer retain the right to privacy especially for such conversations?