Twists abound and tensions detonate in HBO’s season finale of ‘The Night Of.’
Throughout its eight-episode run, the series exposed the ugliness of the justice system. Still, the finale concedes that the system can work. The court of public opinion, though, is unjust, cruel.
Unlike most buzz-worthy shows, ‘The Night Of,’ offers not only strong performances and strong writing, but it also offers closure. But not in a feel-good way.
The arc for the second season is established after former detective Dennis Box (Bill Camp) discovers Ray Halle (Paul Costanzo), Andrea’s accountant, has the motive to murder her and a history of violence.
So far the evidence is still circumstantial, but it doesn’t look good for Halle if HBO greenlights a second season.
Box, despite his retirement, could not let go of the case. He presents the new evidence to the prosecution, but Helen Weiss (Jeannine Berlin) is reluctant to pursue the new lead. That is until a deadlocked jury leaves her little choice.
The ugly truth is the prosecution was more willing to do what was easy than what was right. Weiss blurs ethical lines as she ignores Box and continues to persecute Naz.
During Weiss’s closing argument, Box abruptly leaves the courtroom, surely contributing to the jury’s deadlock. His dramatic exit was insurance for his first failed strategy, delivering footage of Naz kissing his attorney, Chandra Kapoor, to John Stone. The video footage should have been enough for a mistrial, but the judge disagreed.
Was Box the only person who had a hand in Naz’s release? It’s plausible that Freddy Knight (Michael K. Williams) had a hand in the jury’s indecision.
Early on, the series established Freddy’s reach and power beyond prison walls. He is the one who likely passed the video footage of Kapoor and Naz on to Box.
Freddy also recognizes Naz’s innocence, but did he trust the system to see what was so plain to him? Did he rig the jury to deliver an ironic brand of street justice?
Naz goes to say goodbye to Freddy, but Freddy already knows Naz is leaving Rikers. Afterall, Freddy’s copy of Call of the Wild is waiting for Naz. Looks like Freddy offered more protection than Naz expected.
John Stone (John Turturro) delivers the most triumphant season finale moment. Forced to deliver the closing argument in the wake of Kapoor’s indiscretion, riddled with eczema, Stone is a beacon of truth. Ugly truth.
Stone, who officers, judges, lawyers mocked, emerged from Naz’s trial a force to be reckoned with. Just as the series refused to sugar coat the criminal justice system, Stone refused to sugar coat his client. And that truth may be what set Naz free.
Naz may be free from the concrete prison cell, but he is beholden to one of Riker’s parting gifts, a crack addiction. No one has offered him any means of reconciling with his loss or the trauma of time spent at Rikers. He may have been found not-guilty, but the damage of his high-profile trial is irreparable.
His relationship with his mother, strained. His relationship with his Muslim community, ruined. His ties with past friends, severed. Naz’s heart-wrenching final scene secures his fate and foreshadows recidivism. Will he have the strength to follow Stone’s advice: ignore everyone and live?
With Naz’s arc complete, the stage is set for Season 2 to focus on the new suspect and the prosecution’s new efforts. Box and Weiss are likely to appear in a follow-up season, but is there room for John Stone?
Stone’s closing scene implies he will continue to fight for the underdog and that he will no longer apologize for who he is. Such growth offers closure. What role could he play in the new case?
So far, ‘The Night Of’ remains a stand-alone season of eight episodes. But the success of the first season may be enough to give fans what they want. More ‘Night Of.’
What did you think of the finale? Would you tune in for another season of ‘The Night Of’? You can leave your insights and questions in the comment section.