Adnan. Jay. Hae. For those of us who have gotten hooked on NPR’s Serial, the most downloaded podcast around the world, these names are as familiar as our friends and coworkers—and if we’re being perfectly honest, we probably spend a hell of a lot more time thinking about them. Reporter Sarah Koenig’s investigation into the 1999 strangulation murder of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee has tapped into our obsession with cold cases and unsolved murders that’s driven the popularity of True Detective and the rebooting of Twin Peaks. But the simultaneously gripping and chilling hold of Serial is that its characters are real people. Hae is dead, and Adnan Syed has been in jail since he was 17 for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. Jay, the main witness for the state, is leading a relatively normal life, though that probably has all changed with Serial.
Adnan has an appeal hearing for post-conviction relief set for January. His lawyer, Justin Brown, has been pushing for what he calls Adnan’s “last best chance at freedom” for years. “It’s still alive by a thread,” is how Koenig morosely described the appeal in Episode 10.