After a couple episodes that primarily focused on Naz’s adjustment to life in prison, Episode 5 of ‘The Night Of’ proves to be perhaps the most interesting one since the pilot. This one gets viewers to ask themselves if Naz is really the good boy he’s seemed to be up until this point in the series. In other words, is he perhaps not the innocent we’ve been led to believe?
No entry in this series would be complete without a string of scenes involving John Stone’s continuing foot issue. As this episode gets underway, we see him treating his malady with a UV lamp. Then it’s off to his stepson’s school classroom, where he’s been asked to give a Career Day lecture about what he does for a living. The kids are kind of jerks toward him (as schoolkids tend to be). One young girl even asks him if he’d defend Hitler.
When Stone returns to his place that evening, Chanda is waiting for him. She explains that she’s been given primary responsibility for the case and wants to hire Stone to help her. The two bargain back and forth for a bit until she finally agrees to pay him $30,000. One of the things the lawyers discuss is the fact that Naz had Ketamine in his system the night of the murder. Chandra wants to know why Naz would have a well-known horse tranquilizer in him, and Stone explains that it’s also used as aphrodisiac.
Back at Rikers Island, Naz is given his own private cell thanks to the assistance of Freddie (whom Naz finally asked for help). One night, he’s called out of his cell by another guard, who takes him to the shower room where Freddie and one of his friends are waiting for him. There, naked and beaten on the tiled floor, is Calvin, the guy who burned Naz’s arm at the end of the last episode. Freddie tells Naz to get his payback. Naz kicks Calvin once then turns to walk back to his cell. However, when Calvin throws a homophobic slur at Naz and tells him he was aiming to burn his face, Naz flips out and starts kicking, punching and attacking Calvin – to the point that Freddie’s friend has to pull Naz off him. For a guy who has seemed pretty passive and meek up until now, it seems like Naz isn’t the person we thought he was, and Freddie makes a note of that fact out loud. Of course, this scene also manages to shoot down the fan theory (which I mentioned in last week’s recap) that Calvin was simply a figment of Naz’s imagination.
For those of you concerned about the cat that Stone had dumped off at the animal shelter, he does the right thing and goes back to claim it this week. He brings it back to his place, but keeps it behind closed doors in his stepson’s room so he doesn’t have to touch it. (Stone is horribly allergic to cats.) In a nice moment of levity in this otherwise serious episode, Stone buys a bunch of cat toys, returns home, and then throws them all at once into the room the cat is in and quickly shuts the door again. He then listens to hear if the cat is playing with the toys, and sure enough, it is.
While Stone and Chandra work on their investigation of the murder, Detective Box is doing the same, tracking down video that captured Naz that night, and using cell phone tower records to track his movements. (I’ve read that such records are not reliable, since the tower closest to the person isn’t necessarily the one your cell phone uses… but I guess the writers of this series didn’t know that, or perhaps it will be brought up at the trial.) Anyway, Box is able to track down some video of Naz that night, including the moment when Andrea gets in his car. Later, he shows the video to Helen the D.A. and says it’s not much in the way of showing that Naz is a killer. Helen disagrees, saying it shows that Naz hand-picked her as his victim (since he previously kicked a couple of guys out of the cab).
Stone and Chandra return to the crime scene with a photographer, who takes pictures all over the apartment. One of the places he photographs is the back door (where Andrea let the cat out). It appears that the lock for the door has been broken. The photographer also finds some blood on the leaves outside and reports it to Stone and Chandra, although he confesses it might just be squirrel blood. (In Season 2 of ‘The Night Of’, that cat will probably go on trial for the murder of the squirrel!)
At Rikers, Naz shaves all the hair off his head. At a meeting in Freddie’s cell, he’s introduced to a new inmate named Petey and is told that Petey’s mom will be smuggling some 8-balls in to the prison. Freddie wants Petey to hand off the drugs to Naz, who will then swallow them to get them inside and to Freddie. You can guess the method for extraction once the 8-balls have been swallowed.
When Stone and Chandra come to question Naz about why he had a certain drug in his system the night of the murder that Andrea didn’t have in her system, Naz is more preoccupied with getting the 8-balls and swallowing them without anyone noticing. However, Stone does notice. He tells Naz that he doesn’t blame him for doing what he needs to do while behind prison walls, but wants him to know that if he gets caught, he’ll be there for the rest of his life.
One of the pieces of info that Stone gets from Naz is the fact that witness Trevor Williams – the guy who confronted Naz when he and Andrea were making their way into her apartment – wasn’t alone that night, even though he told the cops on numerous occasions that he was by himself. Stone then tracks down Trevor at a laundromat and tells him he’ll be going away on perjury charges if he doesn’t give him the name of the other man he was with. Trevor eventually tells him the name of the guy was Duane Reade. Even when Stone points out that’s the name of a nearby pharmacy, Trevor insists he isn’t lying. It turns out he’s not. Stone is able to uncover the rap sheet for Reade, who has been involved in numerous crimes, and has always used a knife as his weapon of choice.
Stone is able to find Reade in the back of a convenience store, but when he identifies himself as Trevor’s lawyer, Reade bolts and runs off into the night. Stone finds himself a loose pipe and goes after him. (I’m not sure what he’s thinking. What’s he going to do when he finds Reade again? Shouldn’t he just go to Box with his info?) The episode wraps up with Stone losing Reade.
This episode does a good job of providing us with more clues about what happened to Andrea (how many of them may be red herrings we’ll have to wait and see) and putting doubt in our minds about the Naz’s innocence. Even if Naz winds up being innocent – and I still think he will be, as there were moments in the pilot where he was by himself and acting like an innocent, something a guilty person would not do – I hope this series at least provides an explanation of how Naz became so brutal. His beating of Calvin in this episode was not the act of a man who hadn’t been in a fight before, despite the fact that Freddie has been providing him with some workout training while in prison.
There’s only three episodes left in the season. Who do you think killed Andrea, and why?