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I Am a Killer: Released Review 2020 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew Online
Opening Shot: Over scenes of oil derricks in the Texas plains, a main says, “Thirty years ago, I murdered a man, and was sentenced to death.”
The Gist: In the first episode, we get to know Sigler, whom we meet in 2017 while he’s still in prison. He’s become a religious man, having found God in prison after a life of abuse, instability, drugs, alcohol, crime and homelessness. He tells the tale of his youth and his redemption. He cries over the fact that he took Zeltner’s life — after robbing the store of $400, he shot Zeltner six times, a few times in the back of the head after Zeltner collapsed — but thinks that he deserves a second chance because he’s reformed himself into a pious man who admits to his mistakes and crimes. “I’m a walking miracle,” he says to the camera. We flash to two years later, and Sigler has indeed been granted parole, after close to 30 years behind bars.
Klasmer also speaks to the prosecutor and investigating detective in the case, and they have a hard time believing that Sigler has been reformed. He didn’t just shoot Zeltner once, he shot him multiple times, some of them in the back while he was on the ground. Klasmer also speaks to Zeltner’s half-brothers in Arkansas; they are still angry that Sigler snuffed out their brother’s life, and they are angry that Sigler will become a free man after getting a death sentence in 1991. They also mentioned that Zeltner was gay, which they had no issue with, but wonder if his sexuality had anything to do with why Sigler killed Zeltner; apparently, the two men knew each other prior to the robbery.
We also hear from Carole Whitworth, a 71-year-old woman from rural Texas who struck up a pen-pal friendship with Sigler after her stepson introduced them to each other when she visited him in prison. Their relationship has grown over the past number of years, to the point where Carole has volunteered to put Sigler up while he’s on his first year of parole, where he has to be under house arrest. Her grandson isn’t sure about this, but Carole swears up and down that Sigler is a changed man and that she will be safe. But she even admits she can’t be 100% sure of that.
Our Take: We decided to watch all three parts of I Am A Killer: Released because it only totals up to 104 minutes, and the first 38 minute episode only tells the story up until the day Sigler was released. It doesn’t show him adjusting to life after prison, and in Netflix’s descriptions of each episode, it promises a bombshell at the end of Episode 2. So with that in mind, we were compelled to watch all three episodes.
It’s an odd show in that it pulls us along even if things move very slowly in each episode. A lot of the narrative is aided by graphics sprinkled throughout the footage, but the majority of the series is built on the interviews Klasmer did with Sigler, who looks back on his murder of Zeltner with more insight, reflection and self-flagellation than you might expect from someone in his situation.
You’re not sure if you want to — or should — root for Sigler, given the brutality that he exhibited when killing Zeltner. It makes it more than just a drug-fueled act of desperation and makes what he did feel more cold-blooded. Even if you appreciate the intelligence with which he talks about his crime, his reformation, and his desire for a second chance, it still feels like he got away with something because he gets to be freed after 30 years and Zeltner is dead.
But then Sigler drops his bombshell at the end of Episode 2, and your view changes. In fact, after the bombshell, which has to do with how the two men had become close friends and factors in Zeltner’s sexual orientation, we came to feel less sympathy for Sigler, and we’re not sure if this is what Klasmer intended.
If anything, the series, while trying to illustrate how even the most brutal of killers can change over time, also points out the absurdity of the justice system in the U.S., where a man can go from death row to paroled mainly because he had a savvy attorney. Should he have gotten a lethal injection or died an old man in prison? That’s not for us to say. But it does seem like his release, while showing that people can change, has left a lot of people, including Zeltner’s family, angry and inconsolable.
Parting Shot: Carole is waiting at the door of the prison Sigler had been transferred to a year prior, waiting for him to come out the door to freedom after 30 years.
Sleeper Star: Oh, it’s definitely Carole Whitworth, who seems to be the most open-hearted woman we’ve seen on a docuseries in some time. She came to trust Sigler enough to let him into her home after he’s released, and their mother-son friendship is actually very uplifting to watch. And she knows her video games!
Most Pilot-y Line: It’s not in the first episode, but the third, and it’s not a line that should be cut out, but one that just made us shake our heads. After Sigler drops his bombshell, Klasmer asks him if he’s a homophobe. He says he has no problems with the “choices” that people make in their personal lives, but “homosexuality is an abomination”. That’s his religiousness talking, and it makes us wonder if he really has no problem with the LGBTQ community.
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