A story a little too close to home for my liking.
In June 2013, the body of a man named Odin Lloyd is found in an industrial park in North Attleboro Massachusetts. Shortly thereafter, New England Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez is arrested for his murder. As the story of the trial unfolds, secrets from Hernandez’s past come to light as the filmmakers try to unravel the mind of a murderer.
Full disclosure: I am a Patriots fan and loved what this man could do on the field. He was also a cold blooded murderer. The documentary did an excellent job, through recorded prison calls and surveillance video, of showing us what Hernandez was doing and thinking before, during, and after the murder(s). It is both sympathetic and antagonistic towards it’s subject, achieving a measure of impartiality which I appreciated.
Likewise, the show did a decent job of exploring the victim, Odin Lloyd. Generally liked by his community it is adequately conveyed how shocking this murder was. The great tragedy of his life is that he will never exist as his own man. He is forever a footnote in the Hernandez story.
I have strange feelings on this one. I work in the Industrial Park where the murder took place. I am actually directly across the street from where it all happened. I was not here in 2013, but I was in 2015. I remember when the jury came to view the scene several years ago. The police, the news, etc. It was a big deal around here. The trial took place in the city in which I was born, Fall River, MA. I played D&D just down the street from the court and frequented a coffee house nearby in my younger days. I’ve met the sheriff featured in the show several times over the years. Its all a bit bizarre when you have those personal connections to the setting of something like this.
As for the show and it’s conclusions; I was pleased that there was no definitive answer as to why Hernandez turned bad. Life is complicated, and so was Hernandez. He had closeted homosexual feelings and encounters which led him to recoil against himself, possibly leading him to the macho “gangster” lifestyle. He also lost his father at an important point in his life. While the father had anger issues, the mother was not able to provide the nurturing environment Aaron would have needed following the dad’s death. His time in Florida as a college player was also crucial to his identifying as a “gangster”., falling in with the wrong crowd. Drugs seemingly played a huge part, as did football himself. Medical examiners were shocked to see the level of CTE damage to his brain. It was the most damage ever seen to a brain of one so young.
All of this taken together paints a very vivid image of the man’s life and why he may have turned bad, but it never definitely says “It was Drugs”, “It was CTE”. It is left open, as it should be. This was a well done, albeit sad, examination of a man, his friends/loved ones, and his victims.