I’m one episode in of The Night Of, and I can easily confess early on, this is the sort of stuff masterpieces are made of. Oh, how I do love a good suspense drama. Did he do it? Did he not do it? What happened the night she was killed? Why can’t he remember anything? How did he not realise he was sleeping in a pool of blood? Why did he wake up in the kitchen? What happened? If he didn’t do it, then who did? Why? How did they get into the house? So many questions and none of them get answered in the 80 minute pilot of this mini series, and that’s why it’s so good! It’s gripping, it’s frustrating, it has so many emotions rolled into one, and though you want to feel for our main protagonist, something in the back of your mind says, what if he did do it?
The Night Of starts off with introducing an American-born Pakistani, of the religion of Islam, Nasir ‘Naz’ Khan (Riz Ahmed) who tutors his fellow students. He is invited to a party and that’s how the night begins.Wanting to get to this party so badly, he chooses to ‘borrow’ his dads taxi and make his way down. With several people wanting to hitch a ride in the cab which still has its lights on to indicate he can take customers, Naz kicks them out one by one, but Andrea (Sofia Black-D’Elia) is one of these would be customers he hesitates to remove. Pretty and desirable, talking slow, slight manipulatively and sounding somewhat concerned for her safety, he decides to take her to the beach as she requests.
The night includes drugs and alcohol and he eventually ends up at her place. For a guy like Naz, a girls attention like Andrea’s, is rare, so he obeys her every demand. He even fell for a game of knife roulette (for the lack of knowing what the actual name of the game is called, my apologies) where they would spread their fingers and see if they could miss their hands.
It turns out, that knife made it to bed with them, and in the early hours of the morning, Naz switches on the light to see Andrea covered in knife wounds, and blood splattered in almost every part of the room. He hesitates, but decides to leave the scene out of his mind from paranoia as to what this may look like if he stays, and then, comes the snow ball affect of that decision. He gets caught shortly after in a intense way you just have to see to feel the same level of anxiety as him and as a viewer, and with the help of having that knife in his jacket, and a witness who saw the couple run up to her home, Naz is held in custody.We also meet detective Dennis Box (Bill Camp) who treats him well, but has no doubt in his mind he is the killer. The look in his eyes say he wants to eat this kid alive. He is so confident that this is his man, that he doesn’t seem to want to gather anymore evidence and all he needs is a confession. This makes the audience think Naz is definitely the murderer, also. The evidence points right at him. But will he confess to a crime he doesn’t remember committing?
We also meet attorney John Stone (John Turturro), a regular visitor to the precinct who crawls in and out of the cop-shop like it has revolving doors, looking for easy petty cases like theft, drug possession and prostitution. He sees Naz in the cell and steps right in not realising that this one isn’t just a petty crime. It’s homicide. It’s a case way out of his reach, so will he stick with it, or will he bail on the desperate, Naz? What I love the most about this show is how it starts. It’s not slow, it’s not easy. It gets you right in there. It answers no question which is perfect for a first episode of a short series. The creators know there are only 8 episodes to show commitment to brilliance and there is more than brilliance in episode one. If every episode is as stressful, and edge-of-your-seat like, as episode one is, I’m in on a hell of a ride. I might not have any hair or nails by the end of it, but I’m okay with that. It’s this sort of drama I love seeing in TV and cinema; the type that pushes you over the edge, concerned about the moment you hit the ground and what impact it will have on you as you fall, and then when you reach the ground, you explode in relief that you’re free of that drama, but gee, that fall was so exhilarating that you didn’t want it to end. It’s not often HBO gets it wrong.
I’m not wasting another minute. I’m jumping onto episode two right now!