Last week, the opening episode of The Night Of provided real old-school, hard-boiled thrills, stripping down the story of a young American-Pakistani student who was caught seemingly red-handed for the murder of a young woman after a night of booze and drugs to its bare minimum. No music. Perfunctory, procedural dialogue. High tension. Details. Details. Details. It was superb.
It was the fall out from the night and day before. Nas was locked up in the precinct, and John Stone, his opportunist, eczema-suffering lawyer was hard at work bringing him up to speed with the lores of the precinct. “I’m going to give you the best piece of advice of your life, so don’t not hear it. Shut it.” That about covered it. “The truth can go to hell. The truth can hurt you.”
Elsewhere, investigating officer Dennis Box (Bill Camp) was trying to weedle out the truth from Nas, in snatched conversations with the young, terrified lad. He saw when his parents came into visit him that he came from a good home, and when a prosecutor asked him how she was going to lose this case, he blinked. There was doubt in his mind, despite the fact that all the evidence stacked up against him. Box was once again kind, tactful and thoughtful when it came to getting a confession, using every good-cop method he could think of. Naz, almost massaged into acquiescence by softly-softly Box, heard Stone’s raspy description of the detective echo in his head during a moment of clarity (“subtle beast”). He recanted and shut up shop.
Here in The Night Of, the truth can be harmful.
And so this engrossing, superb drama continued. Opera faded in and out of the soundtrack, dialogue was fruity and loaded, editing between the holding prison Nas was thrown into with other convicts denied bail was slick and seamless. It’s a very well made drama. And yes, at the heart of it – or at least for these two episodes (a fearsome prosecutor was introduced by the end of it) – it felt like a game of chess between Stone and Box. Naz, in some respects, didn’t really matter – it was about two animals borne from the system going head to head, and knowing that they were about to go head to head. They smelled it in the air, it’s what they both live for. Both experienced, both knowing how to play the game, both knowing that the stakes were high. As nother well-known detective might say: the game is afoot. And Stone, you feel, is about to enter something – an unforgiving vortex populated by politicking, back-stabbing, ruthless lawyers and judges – that will eat him alive if he’s not on his A-game.
In The Night Of, victim begets victim. A young woman murdered; her accused a victim of a power game between Box and Stone; Stone about to be eaten alive, perhaps to become a victim himself. Where does it end? What is the truth?
For our episode one review, go here