“The Night Of”: An Above-Average Drama Miniseries


This HBO murder drama drops something deeper about the randomness of justice, and has Riz Ahmed as a hypnotic lead character. Asir Khan is a good boy: polite, honest, innocent, lovable, college student, mama’s boy. But he’s still a boy, so the unexpected invitation from some lesser boys to a downtown party with the promise of “crazy females” is tempting and irresistible – insofar as, when Naz’s ride fails, he steals his dad’s yellow cab (this is New York). It – the night of The Night Of (Sky Atlantic) – will be a long one, the longest of Naz’s life.

The Night Of

The night starts badly, in parts. He doesn’t know where he’s going or how to turn on the taxi’s daytime light. People come in, he politely asks them to leave. Things get better when a “crazy female” walks in and asks to be taken to the beach. Now it doesn’t seem to matter so much that Naz doesn’t go to the party. They don’t get to the beach, but to the river, over a bridge, where they take some pills in the moonlight. Then they go back to their beautiful brownstone for shots of tequila, cocaine, the knife game (similar to Russian roulette but only knife and hand on table instead of gun to head). And…intimate relationship.

However, the best night of Naz’s life ends up turning into the worst when he wakes up from sleep, with a blurry head, early in the morning and finds the girl dead, with several stab wounds. Naz is free for a while but is later caught for a traffic violation. The adorable doe-eyed Naz is now the prime and only suspect in Andrea Cornish’s murder (she only gets a name post-death). Suddenly, so much of what has gone before – CCTV in the tunnel, a garage stop, an unpleasant encounter in the street – takes on a great deal of significance; what looked like random events, part of Naz’s night out, now looks like a big piece of evidence against him in court. The DNA isn’t doing him any favors either. Or the knife in his pocket.

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The Night Of

“The Night Of” shifted from procedural crime drama to something about the randomness of justice. The series junkie will also recognize that it’s based on the first series of the BBC’s also brilliant Criminal Justice, written by Peter Moffat. But, Richard Price and Steven Zaillian’s adaptation, encompassing a new city, new prejudices, post-9/11 Islamophobia, etc., more than justifies its existence and makes it a thing in its own right. A very good thing is not it?. With a fantastic performance by Riz Ahmed as a young man whose world is ‘falling down’ on him. Excellence, too, to Bill Camp as the jaded cop who has no doubts about who was to blame; and John Turturro as the gruff attorney who appoints himself to Naz ‘s defense .

The only female main character is gruesomely dead. It gets a little better, with Naz’s mother, who will become bigger and stronger as this goes along; also the prosecutor and other lawyers. “The Night Of” sounds impressive. There is perhaps a small nod to Scorsese in this opening, Manhattan night lights at taxi cruising speed, windshield flare, rearview glances. There’s a zoom in and out focusing thing – are you looking over here, or over there? – which is used to the fullest. But it adds to the sense of confusion when a frightened young man is caught in the headlights on the road to the “nightmare”.

But is Naz guiltless? We know we stabbed her once, even though she was egging it on, in foreplay with knives. And he was at a class A cocktail party. Could he have done it in a crazy, drugged frenzy and then forgotten? Hum.. after that I became addicted to the plot.

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