Since ‘The Night Of’ focuses on the guilt or innocence of a murder suspect, I have my own confession to make: My passion for this HBO limited series has dropped off considerably since the pilot episode. Yes, it’s well acted and I’m never too bored watching it, but there’s nothing here that I haven’t seen on TV (or in the movies) before.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at Episode 4 of this 8-episode series.
After his bed was set on fire, Naz is told by fellow inmate Calvin that he needs to toughen up if he’s going to survive in prison. Calvin gives him pointers on how to look people in the eye without actually looking them in the eye, and other such nonsense. Naz still hasn’t accepted Freddie’s offer of protection, but we finally learn why Freddie wants to help him. A visit up to Freddie’s cell reveals that his most prized possession is his high school diploma, and Freddie realizes that knowledge can be power. Given Naz’s college background, Freddie claims that Naz is a “care package for my brain.”
While Naz is struggling to survive at Rikers, the media sets up camp outside his parents’ home. Things aren’t going well for Naz’s younger brother, either. He’s summarily dismissed from his high school after getting in a fight (over Naz, of course) with another student. Naz’s parents are told he’d be better off getting home-schooled from this point forward.
Although he’s no longer on the case, John Stone can’t help but continue to investigate the murder of Andrea Cornish. He starts by being a distant visitor at her funeral, where he snaps a few photographs of Andrea’s stepfather getting into an argument with another, seemingly younger guy (an ex of Andrea’s perhaps?). Stone tries to question a couple of women leaving the funeral, but Detective Box interrupts, warning Stone not to interfere in the investigation – to which Stone points out that he’s doing the investigating that Box should be doing.
Looking over the photographs he took during his visit to Andrea’s apartment, Stone notices a picture of her with a tattoo parlor in the background. He tracks down and visits the location, and sees that it’s right next to “Invictus House,” a rehab center for drug addicts. A pair of workers at the facility (one of them played by John Turturro’s real-life cousin, Aida) come outside to yell at him for snooping around. However, the man from the pair returns a little later and offers to take pictures of Andrea’s file using Stone’s cell phone… all for the low price of only $350. Stone agrees and meets him later for the exchange. Stone will meet with Chandra before this episode concludes and sell her the same file for $500 (turning a nice profit for himself).
While Stone is trying to find clues to what happened to Andrea, Naz’s attorney, Alison Crowe (Glenne Headly), meets with prosecutor Helen to cut a deal. After some back-and-forth, Helen eventually agrees to only ask for a sentence of 15 years (Naz can get out in 12 with good behavior) if he’ll confess to the murder. When Alison talks to Naz, she doesn’t tell him she already has a deal in place. Instead, she wants to know if Naz would take such a deal if she could get it. He reluctantly agrees to her proposal.
On the morning of Naz’s official arraignment, Alison has her co-counsel Chandra meet with Naz shortly before they head off to court. Chandra tells Naz it’s a good deal, but also tells him if he’s truly innocent, he shouldn’t agree to the plea. When Naz arrives in court, Stone is also there and comes over to urge him to take the deal, explaining that he’ll be out of jail by the time he’s 35 and will still be able to have a life afterwards. However, when it comes time to recount his story to the prosecutor (after being sworn in), Naz tells the same story he has in the past about falling asleep and waking up to find Andrea’s dead body. In telling the story, there’s a short flashback in which it looks like Naz might remember something important (perhaps that he is the murderer?), but it amounts to little more than a tease by the filmmakers. When Naz is asked flat-out by Helen if he killed Andrea, he denies it once again.
Needless to say, Alison is very upset with her client and threatens to quit. Naz tells her to go ahead, so she does. Alison turns over the case to Chandra and tells Naz’s parents that she’ll no longer be able to offer her services pro bono and will have to charge them from this point forward.
Returning to Rikers, Naz continues a conversation with Calvin he’s been having the entire episode about why Calvin is in prison. (In short, his niece was killed by a guy who got off on a technicality, and Calvin is there for attempting to kill him.) However, for whatever reason, Calvin takes Naz’s return to prison as an opportunity to burn his arm with a mixture of hot water and baby oil (something he described earlier), which results in Naz going to Freddie and finally asking for his help.
Not much else happens in this episode, other than Stone calling to check up on that cat he dumped off at a local shelter. I’ve read some interesting theories (not my own, so I won’t claim credit for them) about the Calvin character, whom we haven’t seen up until now. Some out there on the interwebs are theorizing that Calvin isn’t actually a real person (he has no interaction with anyone else but Naz) but someone Naz has conjured up in his mind to deal with his prison situation (and also to suggest that he’s mentally unstable and did indeed kill Andrea). Of course, if you buy this theory – and I don’t – you’d also have to buy the fact that Naz burned himself at this episode’s conclusion. Then again, if he is imaginary, “Calvin” would be the perfect name for the character, since “Hobbes” would be too obvious!
Since this week marks the halfway point of the series, I’d love to hear some theories from our readers as to who might really be responsible for Andrea’s murder. Is it the stepfather, the guy he was fighting with at the funeral, someone from the pilot episode we haven’t seen since, someone we haven’t seen at all… or is Naz really guilty? Or did the cat do it?! Leave your comments below!