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Upcoming "The Dynasty" episode focusing on Aaron Hernandez is haunting

Patriots fans remember Matthew Slater as a player who was all about community
Patriots fans remember Matthew Slater as a player who was all about community 02:28

BOSTON -- Simply put, the episode of "The Dynasty" docuseries focusing on the late Aaron Hernandez is haunting.

It's eerie. It's uncomfortable. It's tragic. And it's haunting.

The episode -- which will debut on Apple TV+ on Friday, March 1 -- obviously marks a significant shift in tone for the series, which spent the first five episodes exploring football, videotaping scandals, injuries, and Super Bowls. This one, of course, zooms in on a player with a troubled past who'd end up becoming a convicted murderer.

From the opening seconds of the episode -- when Hernandez stares into the camera for an uncomfortable amount of time while standing in for some in-stadium video board shots -- the viewer is left feeling discomfort. And that lasts until the very end of the 36-minute episode, when team owner Robert Kraft similarly stares into the lens and admits to the team's failure with Hernandez before apologizing to everyone affected by Hernandez.

"We messed up in this one," Kraft states plainly. "And for those of you who feel pain, I apologize."

Unlike prior episodes, this one barely features Bill Belichick (his interview clip appears briefly, with old press conference footage doing the speaking for him) and it doesn't feature Tom Brady at all. Instead, interviews with Hernandez's other teammates -- Deion Branch, Wes Welker, and Brandon Lloyd -- provide details on how Hernandez was always different, and how Belichick often allowed certain freedoms to Hernandez that other players were never afforded in the Patriots' facility.

Outside the facility, though, players knew to keep their distance.

"All the warnings were, 'Do not hang out with [Hernandez's nickname] Chico. Do not. Hang out. With Chico.' That was the code," Lloyd said. "'For your own safety, do not hang out with Aaron.' So something was known."

In June of 2013, following his third season with the Patriots and less than a year after signing a $39.6 million contract, Hernandez was arrested and charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd. In April of 2015, he was found guilty of first-degree murder and was given a life sentence in prison. Hernandez was also indicted for a double-murder that took place outside of a Boston nightclub in 2012, though he was acquitted in that trial in 2017. Just five days after that acquittal, Hernandez died by suicide in his prison cell at the age of 27.

Researchers at Boston University's Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center studied Hernandez's brain after his death and found that he had suffered from CTE "to a degree never before seen by BU researchers in such a young person."

The episode, while relatively brief, explores the arrest of Hernandez and the abrupt end of his Patriots career. And while the series has at times been criticized as being a project that exists solely to elevate Robert Kraft's stature and image, this episode does not make any excuses on behalf of the Patriots. It examines a shocking moment in Patriots and NFL history, and it seeks to uncover every morsel of information from teammates who knew Hernandez. 

Rather than sensationalize or rationalize, the episode simply tells the story of a tragedy. And of all the episodes in this 10-part series, this is the one that stays with you the longest after viewing.

Episode 5 ("Torn") and Episode 6 ("At All Costs") will be available to stream on Apple TV+ on Friday, March 1. Episodes 1-4 are currently available to view on the platform.

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