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Monday, July 11, 2016

The Day After "The Night Of" on HBO

HBO continues to come up with surprisingly powerful programming - which is high praise indeed, since HBO has been offering surprisingly powerful series and documentaries in various forms for years.   Only Netflix has recently given HBO a run for its money, as Showtime has for a while, but HBO is still far ahead of the competition.   Consider, for example, The Night Of, a short series based on a British show, which debuted on HBO last night.

Did Naz do it?  Well, we don't know, and he doesn't know, either, given that he passed out and can't recall anything of what happened between the time he had sex with the beautiful Andrea, after he reluctantly stabbed her in the hand as per the game she insisted on playing, and he woke up to find her stabbed multiple times to death.   We do know he took lots of drugs - at Andrea's behest - and perhaps could have turned maniacally violent under their influence. On the other hand, he seems on the surface like the last person who would do something like this, and is genuinely horrified by what he saw and what he's now accused of doing.

That in itself is a pretty compelling set-up.  But The Night Of wraps this in a package in which every conceivable witness and piece of evidence that links Naz to the murder falls inexorably into the hands of the police.   And yet Naz almost walks out of that police station, in a first episode in which the slow-moving clockwork of police work at the beginning of an investigation almost allows him to escape, at least temporarily.   That vignette is one of the most memorable of its kind I've ever seen on television.

But if Naz didn't do it, who did?   Usually it's one of the witnesses, one of the people we've already come to know.   So far, none jump out.  As a wild guess, I'm thinking someone like Naz's brother, or someone even more on the periphery at this point than the witnesses.    This would certainly be more noteworthy and chilling than the killer being someone we so far haven't seen at all.   On the other hand, we know nothing about Andrea's life, so there's lots of room here for a currently hidden story to emerge.

We'll just have to see, and I certainly will.  Kudos to Richard Price, who wrote The Wanderers and so many other brilliant New York stories, for putting most of this together.

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