Plenty of television series (or in this case, miniseries) begin with strong pilots, only to have things fall apart after the first episode. That’s not quite the case with the second entry of ‘The Night Of’. However, it does turn out to be far less engaging than the introductory episode, if still quite watchable.
The episode begins at the police station. The two cops who originally pulled Naz’s cab over have not been allowed to end their shifts yet and are being questioned by detectives. Jack Stone (John Turturro) returns to the station to talk to Naz, reminding him for what may be the umpteenth time (I hope this doesn’t become a trend for his character) to shut his mouth and not talk to anyone about the case. In fact, Stone doesn’t want to hear about it either. He shuts his client up when Naz tries to tell him what happened.
Lead detective Box, who is quickly establishing himself as the most interesting character of this series, returns to the crime scene the next morning. Andrea’s body has not yet been removed. There’s a tight shot of one of the crime scene investigators removing the necklace around her neck, which I can’t help but feel is important to the case, as the necklace is also featured predominantly in the opening credits to the show (as is that cat we talked about in last week’s recap). Box notices Naz’s asthma inhaler on the bed and takes it with him.
The most interesting plot development this week comes in the form of Andrea’s stepfather, Don Taylor (Paul Sparks from ‘House of Cards‘). He’s called down to the morgue to ID Andrea. When asked to look at a couple of photos of her body, he first says it’s not her, only to say it is her when he’s then asked to see the actual body. The episode sort of goes out of its way to make Don look suspicious, which – of course – means he’s probably not a suspect at all.
On his way out of the morgue, Don crosses paths with Box, who takes him to a nearby diner for some further questioning. There, we learn some more about Andrea’s background – including that she was involved with drugs, had lots of different men/boyfriends in her life, and may have been engaged in prostitution, although Don isn’t certain about that. We also learn that Andrea’s real father has been dead since she was very young and that her mother died just a year previously from cancer.
Naz’s parents are finally able to get a ride into the city to see their son, but not without first arriving at the wrong precinct. They eventually make it to the right one. Box allows the parents to talk to Naz in one of the interrogation rooms. This, of course, is so that Box can watch and listen to their conversation via the room’s video camera. Naz begins to tell his mom and dad what happened, but then notices the camera and switches to speaking in Arabic (which makes little sense, since certainly Box will be able to get a translator). Sure enough, when Stone arrives back at the station and learns that Naz talked to his parents, he’s less than happy with his client.
Box later gets a chance to talk to Naz alone, returning his inhaler to him in the process. Even Box knows there’s something not quite right about this case, though he seems to be carrying the belief that the drugs Naz took caused him to turn violent and kill Andrea. One of the most frustrating things about ‘The Night Of’ so far is the fact that one would think if Naz and Box would just have a full conversation about the prior night, he could at the very least get Box to start looking towards some other suspects. Of course, for the show to continue to portray how Naz is railroaded through the criminal justice system, the writers have to find a way to keep him quiet. Once again, Naz tells Box he won’t talk to him. Box finally formally presses charges against him, resulting in Naz being moved from the station’s holding cell to one of the city’s more permanent jails that night.
Episode 2 also spends a lot of time trying to show viewers more about Stone, including the fact that he has an African-American ex-wife and a son (or maybe a stepson?) named Dwight. We also have to spend a great deal of time watching Stone try to deal with his ongoing foot dermatitis issue – which is no doubt the series’ sly way of trying to visually convey how this once upright attorney is beginning to decay after years in the legal system. There’s even a scene at Naz’s court arraignment where the judge asks him if he knows Naz, to which Stone replies he was just in the right place at the right time – an indication that Stone at this point cares less about his client than the notoriety it will bring his career.
In a scene late in this episode, Box and some officers arrive at Naz’s home with a warrant to search the premises. Before the cops arrive, Naz’s mother goes through his room and finds – gasp! – a couple issues of Maxim magazine and a few unopened condom packs. Box seizes both Naz’s and the family’s laptops. No doubt, they’re going to find that Naz spent a lot of time visiting High-Def Digest – all but sealing his fate.
Naz pleads not guilty to all the charges against him… although it would seem like a few of them (like the charge of possession of a weapon and perhaps even resisting arrest) he’s actually guilty of. He’s refused bail by the judge, so the episode ends with Naz being transported to Rikers Island to await trial.
I didn’t like this second episode as much as the pilot, primarily because it doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of advancement to the story. Although Turturro has the flashy role in this series, I’m far more interested in Bill Camp’s portrayal of Det. Box, and hoping he’s the one who eventually finds the evidence to free Naz, as opposed to being another one of those clichéd TV cops who just cares about putting the most obvious person behind bars.
Now it’s your turn to chime in. Am I wrong about Episode 2? Was it stronger than I thought, or did you also feel it was a bit of a letdown after the pilot?