The Night Of Recap: Making a Murderer

Don’t feel insecure if you find yourself intermittently hitting the “pause” button to relieve the sense of nameless dread that creeps in during any given episode of The Night Of.

With only one episode left of HBO’s methodical, meticulous summer crime thriller, I find I’m often overcome by the urge to take a break and refill my wine glass or breathe into a paper bag or just gently rock back and forth, my hands around my knees, chanting the word “Mommy.”

Much like the origin and meaning of Donald Trump’s coiff, we still have more nagging questions than answers: Is there a chance Naz is actually guilty of killing Andrea? And now that he’s played a part in the death of a fellow inmate, can he ever be labeled “innocent”?

If not Naz, then who: The creepy stepdad? The creepy funeral director? The outlandishly named Duane Reade?

What to make of the Great Asthma Inhaler Mishandling? Why am I so obsessed with D.A. Helen Weiss that I want an entire procedural franchise built aroun her? Is Det. Box gay — or are straight bars decorating with twinkling lights and  playing “I Will Survive” nowadays?

And Chandra, girl, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING?

As you ponder those queries, let’s recap the action from Season 1, Episode 7, “Ordinary Death”:

THE PROSECUTION RESTS | Don’t get me wrong, I’m on Naz’s side here — and because of the lack of blood on him at the time of his arrest, I’m pretty sure he’s innocent. But D.A. Weiss puts on a convincing case. If I were on the jury, I’d have a hard time questioning the medical examiner’s contention that Naz’s hand wound came from his own knife slipping as he stabbed Andrea 22 times. Naz’s best friend gets used against him, too, as we learn Naz had been selling him (and many other students) heavily marked-up doses of Adderall. “Which of you would you say is learning the most?” as a business major, purrs knowingly. And as Chandra cross-examines Naz’s former high-school coach, another bombshell gets detonated: Turns out Naz didn’t just push a fellow student down the stairs in the months following 9/11, but also sent a second kid to the hospital after throwing a coke can at his head. Chandra is dogged in her questioning, but she lacks Helen’s world-weary gravitas, and I’m not sure she sows reasonable doubt.

GO, CHANDRA, GO! | Our not-exactly-veteran defense attorney calls on her expert witness, a celebrity forensic examiner with some intriguing observations. There’s a fourth knife from Andrea’s set that’s not accounted for. It’s his contention that Andrea’s hand wound came from a game of “mumbly pick” (and we know he’s actually correct). He also points out how her back gate didn’t lock properly; how even in his 70s, he was able to scale Andrea’s tree and get into her first-floor window; how an intruder coming through the back of Andrea’s building wouldn’t have been able to see Naz passed out in the kitchen. Helen’s dance with the defense’s main man is flirty, seductive, wry and utterly engrossing — one of my favorite TV scenes this summer. Helen undercuts the guy by using his celebrity credentials against him, and by the time she’s done, it’s hard to imagine the jury won’t vote to convict. But then…

Stone notices that Naz’s inhaler captured in the crime-scene photos isn’t in the evidence log. Turns out Box gave the medicine back to Naz — a break in the chain that Chandra paints as “grossly unprofessional.” It’s a strange twist in the case that ought to weigh heavily in juror’s minds, but what does it all mean? Chandra also presents alternate suspects: funeral home director Royal Day and the never-investigated Duane Reade, a man with a rap sheet of violence who encountered Andrea on the night of her death. It’s an uphill battle for sure, but Chandra’s not letting up on the accelerator. Box, meanwhile, gets golf clubs and Gloria Gaynor tunes at his retirement party — and looks utterly dejected as he nurses his final drink, alone again, naturally.

LOOK AT THAT BODY… HE WORKS OUT? | Behind the scenes, Stone continues to dig into Andrea’s stepdad Don as a suspect. He enrolls at the gym where Don trains women of a certin age, and learns from Andrea’s investment guy that stepdad dearest’s Visa, Master Card and AmEx are all maxed out. Stone even meets with Don’s comely older ex-wife, who reveals that toward the end of their marriage, she’d had to call 911 when Don tried to choke her. “He’s a trapeze artist. He swings from one old bag to the other,” she jokes, bitterly, but we get an added sense of Don’s dangerous tendencies when he pins Stone to a bench at the gym using a hefty barbell. “Maybe I should have a talk with your son at that artsy-fartsy school of his,” the lothario huffs, letting his rival know that he’s been doing some stakeouts of his own. With only one hour left of The Night Of, I’m not sure how Stone and Chandra can make any inroads into equating Don with reasonable doubt, but it’ll be fun to watch ’em try.

HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE NAZ? | Naz’s main people are all reeling in the wake of his trial. His mom flees the courthouse and refuses to return his calls after she sees pictures of Andrea’s body. “An animal did that. Did I raise an animal?” she asks. Naz’s dad finally sells his third of his taxicab medallion for $75,000, instead of the quarter-million it’s worth. And Chandra, in a moment of heated pity/lawyerly affection kisses Naz in his holding cell — a smooch that’s captured on surveillance camera but hopefully won’t fall into Helen’s crafty hands.

GUILT BY ASSOCIATION? | Naz has learned to swallow the smuggled drugs from Petey’s mom without the slightest gag reflex, but Petey himself isn’t handling jail so well. He winds up slitting his wrists in the bathroom, and when Freddy questions why, Naz makes a confession to his jailhouse mentor: Freddy’s right-hand man had been coercing oral sex from Petey, and the fallout means that Freddy’s drug supply has gone up in smoke (pun intended). As Naz goes to the warden’s desk to ask for a new inhaler, Freddy uses the distraction to quickly and effortlessly slit his erstwhile friend’s throat, and just as certain as Paris Hilton wonders how Kim Kardashian stole her spot in the celebrity pantehon, Naz is clearly complicit in this slaughter, whether or not you find it justifiable. If our protagonist isn’t guilty of Andrea’s death, here’s hoping he gets his walking papers soon, before his soul becomes irreversibly compromised.

What did you think of this week’s The Night Of? Share your thoughts 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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21 Comments
  1. Dave says:

    Omg. Weiss is played by an actress who is the real life daughter of Elaine May. It took seven episodes for me to wonder who’s voice she has that is so familiar. I finally caved and ran to Google. Yup. Elaine May. That’s outrageously wonderful.

  2. Johnny says:

    Let’s not forget the new murder that opened today’s episode. I wonder how that will come into play, especially since Box said something about the murder being similar to Andrea’s. The scene with Dr. Katz and Helen was the highlight of this episode.
    I’m rooting for Chandra but I can’t defend that kiss. Even she realized she messed up since it’s caught on camera and could easily be used against Naz. Looking forward to the extended finale next week!

  3. Guymeister says:

    The problem is, and that’s what the show depends on, is that we the audience are given so little information, We don’t know what evidence was found at the scene, or really anywhere else, so we’re left to wonder.

  4. kirads09 says:

    What about the woman they found at the very beginning similarly killed? Or was that just to point out rich white girls get justice – this one won’t? Could there be any tie in – same murderer maybe? Heck I’m super relieved that darn cat’s still around. Cracked up so hard when it got out and went to sleep with Stone. And he doesn’t want to get rid of it. Awww.

  5. Harmon Brody says:

    Naz is not legally guilty…too many reasonable doubts…too many doubts about his guilt by box, Stone. No motive.

  6. Grey says:

    Interesting that the doctor was named Dr Katz. The cat has been a major part of the story, Andreas cat has been mentioned in every episode or seen. And now we know the door she used to let him out was broken

  7. Michael Varilla says:

    I might be totally off base here, but this hit me like a lighting bolt last night when I saw him walk past the window and the toy cat was pointing at him accusingly….It’s Stone. That’s why he was there at the right time and right place first episode.

    • jp says:

      wow – interesting – never thought of that and wondered why that quick shot of the window. And that may be why he keeps that kitten even though he is allergic. A kind of guilt perhaps?

  8. N says:

    I love the show, but it’s infuriating!

  9. Oscar says:

    Naz’s mom saw something in his backpack the day the police came in with the search warrant. It seems she hid what she found in the laundry machine. What did she see? Is that the reason why she thinks that Naz is an “animal’?

  10. jp says:

    A bit off base but I am thrilled that Ben Shenkman and Paolo Costanzo from Royal Pains were in the cast. Will miss all of those actors!

  11. nmbook says:

    Thank you for mentioning the fact that Naz wasn’t covered in blood when he was arrested! Why has this not been mentioned by anyone on the show?!! With the amount of blood shown in the crime scene photos, there is no way he had the time or intelligence to clean all of the blood off of his body and underwear (I can’t remember what he was wearing when he woke up) and then get rid of all of that blood evidence in the bathroom. I mean he’s smart enough the bleach a bathroom, shower drain, etc. but then grabs the knife when he leaves?

    • KCC says:

      It’s a concern but can be explained away. If he was naked when he committed the murder then took a shower and got dressed. Since they already proved he had sex with her and she was naked, so it’s probable he was naked at some point too. We don’t know if they checked the shower and drain for blood residue. If they didn’t, that’s just more probable doubt for Naz.

  12. T says:

    I think Chandra kissed Naz to get into his and Andrea’s heads as the scene shows flash backs of the night they hooked up and were making out.

  13. Bob says:

    The action must be set around 2008 or 2009 to make sense (which is when the original English show was set.) Naz pushes a kid down the stairs shortly after 9/11. He’s in high school then, let’s say age 16. Now he’s 23.

  14. Madalena says:

    Keeps me guessing…….intriguing

  15. Jo says:

    The security footage that captures Chandra and Naz kiss displays a running clock with the year being 2015…woops.

  16. patti dallas says:

    What were the pills that Chandra got for Naz?