“Fuck ’em all. Live your life.” – John Stone
The season finale of The Night Of was about as satisfying a conclusion as we could hope for. But first let’s give some shoutouts to the excellent cast.
Shoutout Michael K. Williams (Freddy) for batting 1.000. Undefeated.
Shoutout J.D. Williams (Trevor) for elevating every role he has way past where it should reasonably be elevated to.
Shoutout Amara Karan (Chandra) for bursting onto the scene. Enjoy your many job offers.
Shoutout Bill Camp (Detective Box) for imbuing his performance with a quite morality, and for not being afraid to admit being wrong.
Shoutout Riz Ahmed (Naz) for being equally convincing as a doe-eyed innocent AND as a hardened drug-trafficking Rikers inmate. And for being a pretty dece rapper.
Shoutout John Turturro (John Stone) for being the unquestioned and undisputed MVP of this show. Give the man the gosh dang Emmy now. RIGHT NOW.
Where should I start with “The Call of the Wild,” the series finale (maybe) of the co-Best Show of the Summer (Stranger Things is the other champion)?
Maybe with Naz freebasing at the same spot where he sat with Andrea all those episodes ago while the audience gets flashbacks of her smiling at him? Or how about with Detective Box refusing to resign to retirement until he found out the truth (“You still here? What the fuck?”)? Or possibly Naz’s last conversation with Freddy, or him looking back at Freddy as he walks out while the former boxing champ works out his regained loneliness on a heavy bag? Or the ending shot with the cat walking through the frame as Stone heads out to continue his day-to-day grind of representing punks and prostitutes? Or maybe even my realization that the judge is played by the same actor that also played the creepiest-villian-of-all-time Errol from True Detective season 1 (the greatest single TV season of all time, don’t @ me)?
I’ll start with the best scene of the whole series: John Stone coming out of the bullpen – gigantic eczema breakout and all – to close this mother out. The scene was perfect. Turturro was perfect. And it may or may not have been a bit dusty in my living room whilst I watched it. I certainly can’t add anything to the greatness of the scene so I will just recommend you fire up HBO GO and watch it again.
All my guesses and predictions about the true killer were wrong. This proves one of two things: 1) The Night Of did an excellent job of working in false leads that raised just the right amount of questions to make us believe they were all possible (Naz did it, Duane Read did it, the stepfather did it); or 2) I’m really dumb and lack critical thinking skills. It’s probably both: I am dumb and the show was excellent.
So the killer ended up being (probably) the amalgam of every young financial adviser from a decent background that probably had his school paid for guy. Also, I never really enjoyed Jeanie Berlin’s portrayal of prosecuting attorney Helen Weiss (why does her face look like that and why does she talk like that?) but I’ll be damned if she didn’t crush that closing argument – she nailed all the right pauses and betrayed the correct amount of skepticism re her arguments brought about by Box’s revelations.
And then, just like that, Naz is free. After giving his traitor of a mother (that’s probably a bit harsh) the cold shoulder, and before scoring some dope (I beg you Naz, go find the Ennet House, it’s not that far away!), Nasir shares a touching moment with his unassuming yet heroic lawyer. Stone gives him some great life advice (see quote above) and Naz thanks him for what he did – if nothing else, each new time time Naz said “thank you” in the show it was the most earnest and deeply felt thank you I had ever heard.
The point of The Night Of wasn’t about who killed Andrea, or why, but about an innocent man being transformed into a criminal while detained in the American prison system. It was about our shaky justice system, and, more generally, our fragile humanity. It showcased the horrors of incarceration as well as the horrific decision making enacted by lawyers (both sides) in order to win a case; to keep the close rate up and the system bumbling on.
The Night Of joins the pantheon of excellent television programming developed and executed by HBO.
And it leaves us with the all-important question: What do we do with our Sunday nights now?FOLLOW THE OPEN FIELD