The Night Of is a miniseries HBO put out recently that aired every Sunday. It's a prison/court show around a Pakistani-American named Nazir Khan who blacks out during a drug-fueled outing with a strange girl and wakes up to find her viciously cut up. In a panic, he grabs the knife and runs, as well as a few other mistakes that hurt his case as the show surrounds his attempts to survive in prison as well as deal with his community on the outside.
I WILL be spoiling the end of the show, and various plot points throughout because some of my thoughts revolve directly around some of them.
I have mixed feelings on the show. On one hand, it's beautifully shot. The highlight, for me, is John Tuturro's portrayal of John Stone, a jaded Attorney to finds obviously guilty people that mess around with drugs and contraband and pleads them out for easy money.
In fact, I'm pretty sure he's the only one who's awake for the whole show. This gets to the core of my thoughts;
Everyone is asleep in this show.
Naz's parents just look dumbfounded the whole time. The mother does a good job of looking exasperated sometimes but the father just walks around his scenes looking confused. You could excuse this for 'shock' but he doesn't act. He does nothing at all.
It makes a point to highlight the mundanity(sp?) of everyday life. Every cop, social worker, and civilian you see look bored and asleep. I can respect the show's attempt at realism but this problem goes beyond mere escapism; I want to enjoy myself. I was not enjoying myself through most of the show. Certain points were engaging, like the various prison scenes and seeing how corrupt Naz would allow himself to be as to not get stabbed or, at one point, gets home-brewed acid thrown at him. Some of that was engaging but even the Guards and prisoners looked half-assed. It hardly went in depth there, as shows like Oz and Prison Break did. You barely see much of the Prison at all, mostly revolving around Naz and his benefactor, a prisoner named Freddy.
After that, it cuts to bored investigators taking picture of boring houses. John occasionally does something interesting, like getting up close and personal with some suspects but it ultimately cuts to Detective Box looking bored while watching boring surveillance cameras. Everyone looks tired and I feel like there's a lot of fluff that could have been cut to make this a five episode series rather than eight.
Half of the investigation scenes are all fluff, too. At one point Naz's Attorney investigated a Mortician that was in the area during the titular "Night of". He barely gets five minutes of screen time to establish his intense and possibly dangerous misogyny, before he just disappears until the last episode for a brief few statements at the Stand. This happens a couple of times before focusing on what might be the actual killer; Some kind of financial adviser of the deceased woman's stepfather.
That all could have been interesting but the show just kind of
ends. The show ends with the jury being 6 to 6, locked in their opinions and not budging. The DA had the option of pressing further but gives up in an interesting twist; During the last episode she physically holds the knife and notices that the knife would not have cut Naz's hand like it did in the photographs. I actually hated the DA's actor but I was actually excited to see the spark of emotion in her face when this actually dawned on her. Again, they could have explored this further but it ultimately culminates in the fact that she decides not to continue the charges and drops the case after one good, hard look at Naz. That was it. She gets one spark of decent acting and the show just shrugs and gives up. It does this a lot, you see. A lot of fluff and distraction.
So he goes free and by this point, there's 13 minutes left I notice on the bar. I'm waiting for some kind of final revelation that never comes. I expected one of the other suspects to assault him or strike again in some manner. I expected some kind of twist where Naz actually picks up another woman, has a strange look on his face, and BOOM, smash cut away? This does not happen.
Instead the show ends establishing that Naz continues a newfound drug habit he picked up in prison. Detective Box and the DA go after the 'real' killer, whom we see walking away and then nothing else. No real comeuppance, no payoff. Naz just gets mad at his mother for her brief moment of thinking he actually killed the girl, and he stomps away into the night to score some drugs. (Which could have been a moment of a scenario or theory I stated above). Nope. It just
Ultimately I'm glad this was just a mini-series. Nothing happens. I was as bored as the actors on the screen.