The Night Of has been so good so far, I was kind of almost dreading – dreading is probably far too strong a word – the moment when it turned from a brilliantly written, intriguing procedural to a full-blown courtroom drama. I have nothing against courtroom dramas, but they all tend to follow one template (how can they not?) and I’ve been enjoying getting to know John Stone and Box and Chandra too much, while seeing how Naz has slowly been moulded by Freddie in prison has been engrossing and intense. Tonight was the night The Night Of entered the world of the courtroom.
We left Stone chasing Duane Reade down a dark alley at the end of the last episode, certain that harm would come to him. Not only did the start of this episode not explain what happened, it pretty much ignored the incident. What we saw instead was Stone – who had obviously survived the encounter – go to a taciturn Chinese doctor, who gave him some foul-tasting powder to take for his eczema.
From then on we saw Chandra going out and investigating herself, visit the undertaker who saw Naz and Andrea at the petrol station the night she was murdered. He turned out to be a very interesting character – full of anger and bitterness, as he answered Chandra’s questions about Andrea while painting the fingernails of a cadaver on a slab: “She had that vibration some women got,” he hissed. “Next thing you know she dead. Like she the cat and he the ball o’ yarn. Women like that out to destroy you, sometimes you got no choice but to strike first. Like it’s a given with women like that that they’re God’s gift, like you’re their plaything. I saw her for the destroyer for what she was and I did not like that. Sometimes when you call them out they get neutralised.”
Asked what he did after he saw them from a visibly shaken Chandra, he quoted a passage from the Bible, which, Chandra found out, said this: The lords of the Philistines came to her with silver, and after putting her to sleep in her lap she called for someone to come and shave off his seven braids. And so his strength left him. And she said to him, the Philistines be upon me Sampson. And they bound him in shackles and brought him to Gaza and gouged out his eyes.
So we had another suspect to consider. And this is what the series has done so well during the course of the six episodes so far: to slowly introduce suspects at crucial times. Not forced or shoehorned them into the plot, but dropped them in perfectly and bang on time. We had another suspect by the end of the episode – Andrea’s step-father, Don Taylor. He had been tabbed by Stone as a serial dater of older women, and someone who went mad when he found out that Andrea’s mother had left everything to her daughter and not him.
But what about Naz? At Rikers he was becoming more and more of a lag, manipulated by Freddie into something of the kind of ball o’ yarn the undertaker had suggested he was. He was working out, he had ‘SIN’ tattooed across his knuckles and started to take hard drugs, helping to block out the stressful appearances in court.
Yes, it was court time and the opening exchanges were being waged. Stone, noticing that Naz was wearing the wrong coloured shirt (“you should never wear royal blue in court”) hastily swapped shirts with his defendant as the jury entered the room. From then on Helen Weiss slowly built up her case against him. By the end of the episode, the aforementioned discovery of Don Taylor’s behaviour might have swung things in Naz’s favour, but still we don’t know. The question is, as Naz has become more and more institutionalised, does he actually want to leave prison?
And that’s what we have here – worlds within worlds, all with their own rules. All the same but different; each with their hierarchies and ways of surviving. At the moment Naz is like a ghost, drifting from one to the next, the master of none.
For our episode one review, go here
For our episode two review, go here
For our episode three review, go here
For our episodes four and five reviews, go here