HBO’s eight-part series, The Night Of starring John Turturro (John Stone) and Riz Ahmed ( Nasir “Naz” Khan) is the story of a New York City murder case where a young, asthmatic, socially awkward, Pakistani college student is charged with murder after a dangerous drug and alcohol riddled one-night-stand goes terribly awry. Based on the BBC series Criminal Justice, the dark gritty series follows many paths as prosecutors use the overwhelming evidence against him to quickly prosecute while his ambulance chasing lawyer tries his best to prove his innocence.
I’ve recently caught up on the first seven episodes in anticipation of Sunday night’s final episode. Side note: I likely won’t be able to watch it live Sunday so please don’t spoil me!
In the first episode we see Naz wake up after a night of first time drug and alcohol use (He’s Muslim) and his second sexual partner, in the kitchen of the twenty-two year old girl’s very expensive home. When he returns to the bedroom to gather his belongings and begin his walk of shame to the taxi he borrowed from his father without permission, he discovers her brutally murdered body.
While the police have enough evidence to put him away and don’t even consider other suspects, we are given a few along the way. A violent man on the street who hurled anti Muslim slurs at him before they went inside the brownstone, a creep mortician that seemed to follow them home from the gas station, and even the girl’s step father.
As Naz spends weeks in Rikers awaiting trial and trying to stay alive, he transforms both psychologically and physically from a nerdy social misfit into a genuine prison thug. While in prison he has done drugs, been a drug mule, instigated a suicide and was complicit in a murder. If he was innocent before, as we have believed all along, he is far from innocent now.
Each week John Stone, an attorney with a horrible case of eczema on his feet and a love for a cat that he cannot touch due to severe allergies, is also interwoven into the story. For me, this was perhaps my favorite part of the entire season.
As we approach the finale episode, it’s clearly been leading up to Stone, who is much maligned by his peers as a low life attorney, proving that the step father was actually the killer and exonerating an innocent Naz. It was clear to me when he was called in to identify the body that the stepfather was the killer. Then, the fact that she was stabbed 22 times, once for every year of her life, followed by the news that he was upset with the dead girls portion of the inheritance when his cougar wife (and her mother) died made the motive and killer abundantly obvious.
Perhaps too obvious. And in the last couple of episodes, the writers have given us reason to wonder if Naz is innocent at all. Perhaps the mountain of evidence should be believed. Is the innocent thing all an act? Is the person he is now in Rikers his true self?
Will they shock us by providing a yet unknown motive for the creepy mortician or the violent dude named after a drug store chain to be the real killers?
Sidenote: There are Internet spoilers out there about the BBC version of the show. If you have read them, please don’t post them here as we speculate how it will all end for the US version on Sunday.
The penultimate episode had a very odd kiss between Naz and his female lead attorney, who appeared to be sort of falling for Stone, and then out of nowhere made out with Naz in a prison holding cell. I honestly thought that was all in Naz’s imagination, but it was not. It seemed out of place and is making me wonder if this is something that will make way for a second season since the first on has been so popular. Perhaps Naz will be convicted and season two would be an appeal? Because it is both of his attorneys’ first murder case, an appeal due to ineffective counsel has certainly been set up.
I look forward to being able to watch the episode, perhaps on west coast time Sunday or Monday at the latest. I almost passed on this series due to the dark nature of the plot, but I am glad I stuck it out. The final episode is called The Call of the Wild after the Jack London book about a dog named Buck who is removed from his family to become a sled dog. Based on that title, and the plot of the book, it seems like foreshadowing that Naz may spend the rest of his life in prison. Or maybe they just want us to think that.
What are your thoughts?