So far, so good when it comes to The Night Of, HBO’s high-class remake of the 2009 BBC series Criminal Justice. We’ve seen American-Pakistani Naz Khan arrested for the murder of a young woman he spent the night with, and the subsequent investigation that led him to now be locked up in the notorious jailhouse, Rikers Island, denied bail. On the outside, opportunist defence lawyer John Stone (John Turturro) is readying himself the biggest case of his career, and a case that could finally thrust him into the realms of respectability.
Unfortunately for John Stone, the hierarchical food chain of the American justice system that saw him snaffle up Naz, now swallowed him up whole, as a bigger fish swooped down to eliminate him from his job as Naz’s council. Episode two started to present this ruthless food chain, and I feared for John – in this episode we saw him try to deal with his diseased feet, follow advice to buy a new suit from the DA, who treated him as a comedy figure, and present his fee ($55,000) to the Khan family. He was taking this seriously, because he knew that perhaps for the first time in his professional life he was about to step out of the shadows of precinct hopping and into the big league. He visited the home of Andrea Cornish to inspect the crime scene for himself, instead making friends with her cat, who was lost without its owner. Everything was being presented to portray John as the victim, so when Alison Crowe burst onto the scene, a hotshot defence lawyer who wanted to take the case on pro bono, we felt sorry for John. His dreams had been crushed. He was off the case.
In one final visit to Naz, who revealed he had been ousted as his council, John told the accused: “Let me give you one last piece of advice… no, I haven’t got anything.” He had nothing left. He took Andrea’s cat to be impounded, where it awaited its fate.
Also impounded was Naz, at Rikers Island, where he was quickly learning the rules of his new home. Say nothing, do nothing. But when prison kingpin Freddie (played by The Wire’s magnificently charismatic Michael K Williams) started showing an interest in him, he wasn’t sure quite what to do. In the end, he refused Freddie’s offer of protection, which looked as though it would be a bad move: his bed was burned during a trip to the toilet, Freddie’s face glinting through the flames.
So once again I ask: who’s the victim here? Is it Andrea? Is it Naz, suddenly thrust into the jungle of prison? Is it John Stone, swallowed whole by the system? is it the Khan family, who go through the ignominy of visiting their son in jail and facing anti-Islamic prejudice on the outside? They’re all victims, to varying degrees.
For our episode one review, go here
For our episode two review, go here