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S28.E24: The Pretender

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I was excited to see that this episode was set on the Oregon coast, since I've spent a lot of time there and it's so beautiful.  I find that 48 Hours has the most amazing camera work, panning over landscapes, etc. but it was surprisingly lacking in this episode?  I guess Waldport doesn't have the best beaches but they could've done a more, I was disappointed!


I knew right away I'd seen this story before, on an ID show.  Very sad, and what a desperate lifestyle he made his family lead, and I don't see how Mary Jane put up with it, liiving in a warehouse, having to leave her belongings behind, etc?  And then murdering his entire family, just incomprehensible.  I felt so bad for the family members, and the poor babysitter/Starbucks co-worker who identified the bodies of two of the children, she was clearly so devastated.


As for Michael Finkel?  I think less of him for befriending the murderer than I do for faking his news story.  The movie sounds lame.  It might've been better if the ending was that it was an innocent man.  I can't believe he's still friends with him, "casual" or not!  Maybe they deserve each other.


Maureen Maher looked so different in this episode, I swear I hardly recognized her in some of the interviewing shots.  They seemed to have softened up her look a lot.  She wasn't even wearing any leather!

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I think a lot of the shots were taken from interviews conducted a while ago, closer to the time of the trial in 2003, and before everything was shot on HD.  At least that's how it looked to me.


Longo is a disgusting sociopath murderer, and once again, why can't people just get a divorce?  They didn't even have assets to split, so he'd be just as broke divorced as he was married.  If he was making $7.50/hr at Starbucks, he wasn't going to be on the hook for a ton of child support.  Mary Jane's sisters looked like they would have welcomed her and her kids back with open arms and did whatever they could do for the kids & their sister.  And sure as hell she'd be better off if Longo just disappeared without murdering her.


But this Finkel guy?  Well he didn't murder anyone so he's not that bad, but good gods, is he stupid!  I loved Maureen's smirk when she asked him if he'd been duped by Longo.  That made the episode for me.  Being duped on top of lying in the Times makes me never want to read anything he's written and definitely not see the movie.  If episode was supposed to be a covert ad for the movie, it really worked the wrong way for me.

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biakbiak, you have SUCH a good point, I didn't even think of that!  Also, wasn't it only two weeks?  In any case, "a guy who murdered his family impersonated me!"-yes, awesome claim to fame.

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It was apparently two and a half weeks, but the way he and even the show were going on about stolen identity and imposter I rolled my eyes. He checked into a crappy youth hostel under his name and carried around a notebook this should not be enough to have a deep connection to a psychopath!

I am almost tempted to read his book to see how much this douchebag made this horrific tragedy about himself but it would most likely make me way too angry.

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Here is a little article on four different types of family killers - http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-08/16/family-killers


Longo sort of fits into the "anomic" type- from the article: "Anomic killers see the family as a symbol of their own economic success, but if they suffer some kind of economic failure -- bankruptcy, for example -- the family no longer serves this function."


I am not impressed with the NYT journalist - I think he has some issues himself, although I can understand his interest in understanding Longo to some degree as I am a true crime fanatic myself. Also, given how he tanked his career, I can understand that he would want to latch onto a story that could be big in order to get his career back on track.

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although I can understand his interest in understanding Longo to some degree as I am a true crime fanatic myself


I get this because I am too (!), but was Finkel even coming at the situation from a "true crime is fascinating" perspective, like we would be?  Because I think the ONLY reason he cared was because the guy had impersonated him.  When he realized Longo had actually done the murders, he told MM about feeling disgusted (or something) and agreeing he'd been duped and the relationship becoming more "casual".  He'd obviously had his doubts that Longo even was the murderer, so it couldn't have be about "getting into the guy's head" or whatever a journalist might want to do.

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Maureen Maher looked so different in this episode, I swear I hardly recognized her in some of the interviewing shots.  They seemed to have softened up her look a lot.  She wasn't even wearing any leather!

But she did get to bust out a pair of khaki shorts and a North Face rain jacket.  So, you know, slightly badass.


The whole episode was really a stretch.  Garden variety psychopath who has a tangent relationship with a quasi-notorious reporter (who I'd never heard of, so it's not like he was Stephen Glass), and there just happens to be an indie movie about same being released in a few weeks.  Also, I don't know if they could have cast actors who look less like Finkel and Longo short of making them both women.

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It's strange how some facts stick in your head.  As soon as I saw the family picture, I said:  He killed the wife and kids, they lived in a warehouse, he worked at a coffee shop, and he had some sort of secret life.


The journalists relationship with Longo reminded me of another strange communication.  A woman on Scott Peterson's jury (nicknamed Strawberry Shortcake by reporters), helped declare him guilty and determined he should get the death penalty, then began a correspondence with Peterson after he went to prison.  She obviously believed he was guilty, but felt compelled to communicate with him. I think she was trying to prolong being in the limelight.

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Count me in as one who found Finkel annoying and stupid. I couldn't have been more weirded out by him taking relationship advice from Longo if I tried. And the girlfriend laughing about how great the advice was since she finally.got the ring from the lying liar who lies. Idiots, the lot of them.

And I agree about Mary Jane. At what point does a woman realize she can do bad all by herself? The prick is dragging you and your kids to and fro to escape his crimes to the point that your family has no idea where you are and you have to leave your prized possessions in the warehouse you once called home. Red flags everywhere.

But with that said, none of that foreshadows murder. I feel awful for her and those kids.

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A couple shallow observations. Finkel is the biggest douche. I think Franco should have played him and not Longo. I agree that Maureen looks better. I think she had some work done along with the lighter hair and tanned skin.

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