the night of recap

The Night Of Premiere: Did HBO's Moody Murder Drama Arrest You?

Light sleepers, take heart.

Your precious slumber may be interrupted by every car horn, temperamental alley cat and arguing couple on the block, but before you lament your situation, put yourself in the shoes of The Night Of‘s Nasir “Naz” Khan. After a drug-fueled, Rip Van Winkle moment, the wide-eyed college student wakes up to find his sweet-but-slightly-off-kilter one-night stand has been savagely murdered in her bedroom.

While he’s maybe/probably not guilty — if Naz (Nightcrawler‘s Riz Ahmed) committed the crime, wouldn’t he have had more than just a little blood on his hands? — his actions after discovering the body don’t exactly paint him as an innocent man.

By the end of the premiere, it’s easy to see why the case’s veteran lead investigator Det. Box (Damages‘ Bill Camp) might think that getting a conviction will be easier than convincing Naz to offer up a DNA cheek swab before the words “I want a lawyer” have entered his brain.

But speaking of attorneys, there’s a glimmer of reasonable doubt at the end of the tunnel — as grizzled Jack Stone (John Turturro) stumbles onto the scene and agrees to mount the handsome Naz’s defense/offer him some crucial advice about not adding to the pile of evidence already stacked up against him.

Let’s recap the action from Episode 1 — and break down the nagging questions that’ll need answering over the course of the next seven weeks:

the night of andreaHE’D DO ANYTHING FOR LOVE, BUT HE WON’T DO THAT | Our story begins with Naz on campus, tutoring a star basketball player and scoring an unlikely invite from the guy’s teammate to attend a hot Manhattan party. We see the kid’s nervousness (“Nice to meet you — my name’s Naz,” he practices to himself) and excitement about briefly breaking away from a life of academia and familial duty with his close-knit Pakistani-American family in Queens. But when his ride cancels at the last minute, Naz impetuously “borrows” his dad’s cab — with his passage through a Manhattan toll plaza the first of many moments forebodingly captured on camera.

Since he can’t figure out how to activate the “off duty” sign, Naz winds up with a husky-voiced beauty in the back of his vehicle, asking to be taken to “the beach.” There’s a connection — or at least a heavy dose of pheromones — in the air, and the temperature between Naz and the woman heats up as they wind up uptown, on the banks of the Hudson, popping pills and basking in dreamy moonlight conversation. He’s skittish. She’s a little sad. But they return to her Upper West Side brownstone — how does a mysterious young woman like her afford a swell pad like this, without so much as a single roommate? — for some tequila, cocaine and light knife play. “That, I will not do,” says Naz, when the girl asks him to plunge a blade between her outstretched fingers. But he’s intoxicated — by her charm, by the pharmaceutical high — and before you can say “Yikes! She’s gonna need stitches!”, she’s ignoring her nasty hand wound, locking lips with this swarthy cabbie and bringing him up to the bedroom.

the night of nazTHIS JUST CAN’T BE THE MORNING AFTER | Naz wakes up with his head on the girl’s kitchen table, a little worse for the wear and anxious to return his dad’s vehicle before the sun rises. But when he gets upstairs, he realizes his new lover has been brutally stabbed to death. He flees in a panic, then has to return to the scene of the crime and break through the glass in the front door to sneak back in and retrieve his jacket and car keys (a minor crime noticed by a neighbor across the street) — as well as the knife with which he accidentally punctured the victim’s hand.

Naz winds up getting pulled over for erratic driving, but as brutal coincidence would have it, the cops who are questioning him get called to investigate the break-in at the house he just left. And so, from the back of their squad car, Naz endures watching the climb of flashlights to the third floor bedroom, then the arrival of an ambulance, a CSU/Hazmat unit, and Det. Box. He’s shipped back to the precinct, where he’s left to sweat this nightmare scenario for hours, but the silent unknown proves to be far from the worst thing he’ll endure.

As Box arrives and reads out details about the victim (named Andrea Cornish) and the suspected murder weapon, Naz is getting frisked by the beat cop who pulled him over. Right as Box describes the knife — “five inches long, an inch and a half wide, possibly serrated ” — the cop pulls the knife out of Naz’s inside pocket. And when he tries to flee, an eyewitness who saw Naz and Andrea on her stoop strolls in: “That’s him right there!” (OK, the moment’s a bit of a stretch, but it made my heart race, so I won’t question its overabundance of convenience.)

b9ad6881a01b9fd715714f76568547a58cbae08abb1e790b765735ebacf3f1317f0bd0e21e09ec0ebddc9827e256337aYOUR BODY IS A WONDERLAND CRIME SCENE | The rest of the episode is a blurry nightmare, as Naz is stripped, swabbed and photographed — and interrogated by the wily, whip-smart, always calm Box. “She’s only the second girl I slept with,” says Naz. “I liked her. She was nice.” But he can’t recall any details — and maintains his innocence — which causes Box to tell him, that “Judges and juries don’t like ‘I can’t remember,'” that “honesty and remorse can shave a lot of years off” a sentence. It’s looking dire for Naz — with scratch marks on his back and surely Andrea’s DNA under his nails and on other body parts, too — that is until weary Stone arrives with his excema and his cynicism and spots the kid in a holding cell. He takes the case — thinking it was an assault, not an actual murder — but his advice to stay quiet, say “I don’t know/ask my lawyer” might just save Naz’s life in the end.

I’VE GOT QUESTIONS! | Clearly, we need to learn more about Andrea’s state of mind in the hours before the murder. While her “I can’t be alone tonight” could be interpreted as an invite to her bed, it seems like there’s some genuine fear in her voice, too, especially when she says she wishes she could teleport away from “something bad” and put herself somewhere else altogether. That subtext may be the key to proving Naz’s innocence, but there are other head-scratchers in the opening hour, too.

* Why did eyewitness Trevor — the racist weed dealer who referred to Naz as a “towelhead” — lie and say he was by himself when he saw Andrea and Naz outside her apartment? And did his companion’s steely look backward hint at a larger connection with the victim?

* Will the broken chain of custody involving Naz’s clothes and knife somehow provide a loophole in his case?

* Does Stone’s startled reaction to hearing about Box being on the case hint that the men have crossed paths, that Box has some darker secrets in his locker, or that he’s just so formidable that it put Stone on edge?

* Is there more than meets the eye concerning the gruff supervisor of the beat cops who brought in Naz?

Your turn. What did you think of The Night Of premiere? Grade the premiere in the poll below, then add your snappy review in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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20 Comments
  1. Lisa says:

    The whole thing was incredibly, intricately, suspensefully well done from start to finish

  2. Nancy Lawson says:

    I think I’m going to be drawn into this like I was with the first True Detective.

  3. Amy says:

    The driver of the limo has to be involved right?

  4. Jag says:

    I dig this kind of suspense. It was slow but still engaging and addictive. One of the promising shows this summer.

  5. Walkie says:

    Phenomenal. Wasn’t slow at all. It was intense from start to finish.

  6. bos4ny3 says:

    Incredibly slow.

    • Benington says:

      Incredibly intelligent, intense and riveting. The complete opposite of incredibly slow but definitely not for those with ADHD. Possibilities are the limo driver; who says to her when she is alone in the car ( let me know when you want a ride) and puts the cigarette out on the window. He also left the gas station at the exact same time as Naz did per the video footage or maybe the associate of the racist drug dealer. His steely glare at them was extremely ominous or lastly how about the mysterious and unknown owner of the hat that was on the wall mounted buck. My bet is on the hat owner and the others are just red herrings. One disagreement with the recapper, she seemed more sad and troubled than scared especially when discussing not wanting to be alone or the ability to just transport yourself away from your reality.

      • Ivy3499 says:

        Wasnt it a hearse and not limo and the driver said something along the lines of “you trying to be my next passenger?” Because she threw a lit cigarette out of he window at a gas station. (Or simply because she was smoking in general). Or maybe I got it wrong. Either way,you are prob right thinking he is involved.

  7. TW says:

    I think there is more to the neighbor than we know. Maybe he was obsessed with her/stalking her.

  8. Joey says:

    Seeing the cat crossing the street at the end called my mind back to when she put her cat outside when she brought Naz back to her brownstone. The door didn’t close all the way…

  9. Paul says:

    Truly amazing! The tension just built and built. And yes, it was a hearse the guy was driving, thus the remark about her being his next passenger after she threw out the lit cigarette by the gas pumps.

  10. William Barrett says:

    Love your recap, Michael, as would Annie.
    ~~ Dee and Bill Barrett

  11. Dana M says:

    Best crime show since season 1 of True Detective!!! I was absolutely riveted and can’t wait for episode 2.

  12. kirads09 says:

    I hope they stay focused on the murder mystery and don’t get lost in TOO much social commentary regarding race, the “justice” system tbh. I obviously expect some of that but hope that doesn’t become the main story here. Incredibly well done and LOVE LOVE LOVE Turturro.

  13. Sylvia says:

    Naz told the lawyer he’d been Mirandized, but I don’t remember seeing it.

  14. Glenn Derman says:

    Why is every character in this drama smoking cigarettes. Even the most, supposedly, intelligent ones. Ketamine is not an aphrodisiac. I know because I have taken it. It is the opposite of that. These are two glaring anomalies that have little to do with the plot but a lot to do with the verisimilitude of the piece.

    • Lynn says:

      Aye I agree on all accounts, why would they claim that ketamine is an aphrodisiac in the first place… There’s another drug that does exactly what they are looking for (for plot-purposes I mean) and which is not unheard of to be combined with MDMA (which must have been in the pill) If they mess up that part as well, I won’t know what to say – or has it been mentioned already what was in the pill? I might have missed it.

      Sounds like the drug they are looking for is GHB (instead of Ket) which both turns you on a lot(!) AND can knock you out into a coma like state when you take too much (which you do wake up from once it wears off), which CAN be prevented by taking stims (allowing you to take a higher GHB dose), but will knock you out once those stims start to wear off in case you still have knock-out concentrations of GHB running in your veins so to speak. GHB is pretty much exactly what the lawyer is describing and what they are looking for I believe. GHB can also cause black-outs/amnesia I think (not sure, haven’t been that irresponsible ;) but makes sense). The only minor issue would be that GHB is usually consumed in liquid form, mixed in a drink or something. Then again powder exists as well, except you don’t snort it (bad idea). They should have just shown her pouring a bit of liquid into the drinks they were having and it would’ve all made perfect sense. Seriously what were they thinking….. That’s just lazy research by those writing the plot/script. I was thinking perhaps it is some (counterproductive) attempt at harm reduction (aimed towards kids interested in this kind of stuff or something) because of the combo with alcohol, but that doesn’t make any sense either because ketamine + alcohol can be quite dangerous as well (less so than GHB + alcohol in my experience, but still…). Yes I speak from experience, regarding all of this, combinations included.

      Also agree on the smoking part.. Just why. One good reason I can think of is that these people all live pretty stressful lives, hence smoke, but yea not very realistic in today’s world either way.

      I was really liking this show (am still), but things like this really bug me. Not that the average viewer would notice, except that there is yet more incorrect information being spread around about drugs, now through a series that pretends to know things about drugs. As if there wasn’t enough misinformation going around already…! Makes me kind of pissed off.

    • Lynn says:

      Woops that turned into a pretty long reply.

      For those who are lazy TL;DR: The effects of the drug being described as ketamine are completely incorrect and spread misinformation regarding drugs and therefore increase the chance of harmful use of drugs by potential users. The drug that has the exact profile of effects being described by the lawyer is GHB, and would fit the plot way better.