For eight weeks, viewers of The Night Of have watched as Naz has dealt with the repercussions of being the NYPD’s fall man on a murder he may not have committed. As the shady and quick investigation failed to look into any other suspects, skeezy lawyer John Stone makes it his mission to prove Naz’s innocence. But is he? The series introduced many other suspects, but even Naz begins to doubt his innocence. So what’s the verdict?
The last couple of episodes were full into Naz’s trial, in which inexperienced Chandra Kapoor leads the defense. Still observed by John Stone, Chandra makes missteps along the way that could spell major trouble for Naz’s case and her career. Last night they made all the difference.
Her first being placing Naz on the stand to testify in his own defense. John warns her that it’s not a good idea. Naz has reasonable doubt, the jurors can see that. But once he takes the stand and is cross-examined by Helen Weiss, the district attorney, all bets are off. She’s vicious, despite knowing there may be other suspects, but Naz is easy and set-up perfectly. After questioning him harshly she ends with one question, “Did you kill her?” Naz says, “I don’t know.”
Chandra’s second mistake, however, may have saved him. Weeks prior, during a visit with Naz, they shared a kiss. A kiss that was being recorded. That recording ended up in John’s hands and with the hope of it causing a mistrial, and hopefully a better lawyer for Naz, he shares it with the judge. But since it’s just closing arguments next, the judge thinks John can handle it and proceeds with the trial.
With Naz’s freedom hanging onto whatever John can come up with, the pressure is on. But what he delivers is a heartfelt argument while highlighting the issues Naz has faced. He points to Naz and says “this is how you survive Rikers”, referencing his shaven head, tattoos, and although the jury is unaware, his drug use. John’s words seemed to sit well with the jury, or at least half. They find themselves deadlocked, six versus six. The DA now has two choices. Begin a new trial or let Naz walk free. With a new suspect in her mind, she knows the right thing to do is to let Naz go.
One of the clearest suspects was Andrea’s stepfather, Don. A bankrupt personal trainer who married Andrea’s mother Evelyn two years prior to her own death. When Evelyn passed, Andrea made sure Don received nothing. Including the $10 million home they all once shared. John was onto this early on but was there someone with an even better motive?
That person was Ray Halle, Evelyn’s financial advisor and holder of Andrea’s trust fund. Detective Dennis Box, feeling guilty for not exploring more suspects from the start, begins to look more into Andrea’s whereabouts the night of her death. Moments prior to meeting Naz, Andrea is seen on surveillance leaving a restaurant with a man and the two argue before she storms off. That man turns out to be Ray. Ray has a gambling problem and $300,000 was mysteriously withdrawn from Andrea’s account the month before her murder. He was also romantically involved with her, although he made no mention of it before. With Naz cleared of all charges, DA Weiss is poised to take down Ray.
As the episode starts to end on a happy note and we see Naz being released from prison, we are quickly faced with the effects of his false accusal. As he meets John for one last goodbye and thank you, he is met with judgmental stares by those who still question his innocence. The consequences are even further shown as Naz makes his way to buy drugs and then sit in the same spot that he and Andrea sat that night. He gets high as he sees images of Andrea sitting beside him.
You feel happy that Naz is free and that he is innocent. That ultimately the real killer will be caught. However, we’re shown the harsh reality that Naz will potentially spoil his life with drug use. It’s the depressing result of a man failed by the judicial system, although lucky to be exonerated, will forever deal with the effects. And so will his entire family.
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