Friedersdorf: In television, the penultimate episode of a season often packs in lots of plot advances while building to the climax of a story arc. But the second-to-last episode of Serial, "Rumors," is tangential to the story of Adnan Syed and the murder that he did or did not commit.
Has this podcast run out of steam?
Sarah Koenig makes much of a rumor that, as an eighth grader, Adnan stole money from the collection boxes at his mosque. Adnan subsequently admits he did steal, though he is frustrated that she's bringing up a shameful memory. What, he wonders, does that have to do with his case?
If there's a good answer, I don't know it.
Later in the episode, there's speculation with an expert witness who has interviewed a lot of killers about whether Adnan could be a psychopath, or could have convinced himself that he never committed a murder even after doing it, or could have done it without even realizing his crime.
None of the analysis that's offered goes very far toward providing solid answers. So why this particular aside?
Adnan's appearance at the end of the episode is the only part I found interesting. He writes Koenig a letter explaining that from the outset he’s endeavored to try to prove his case to her based on the facts. This is ostensibly a defense mechanism against people believing him to be untrustworthy. If he's being candid, there is a certain irony to his attempted approach. As a Redditor put it, "Charming guy charms reporter, later writes letter explaining he was trying to not be charming lest he be accused of trying to charm reporter."