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Monday, August 29, 2016

The Night Of #8: Fine Finale

Well, I've been saying all summer long that The Night Of couldn't just pull a killer out of a hat - couldn't make the killer someone we didn't see or know of until the very last episode - but the short series did just that tonight, and, you know what, it worked, and worked really well, just like the entire series.

In a story in which everyone was flawed, just about everyone, including some surprising characters, played a role in Naz's release.  Box was surprisingly dogged in pursuing who else might have killed Andrea with so much evidence against Naz. But Box's obsession with finding the real killer made perfect sense, given that he was retiring.  And it looked for a while as if his discovery would go for naught, that the mistrial for which the good guys had carefully laid the groundwork wouldn't happen after all.  But then came the biggest surprise of all.

The DA (and memorable acting by Jeannie Berlin), apparently unconvinced by Box's evidence and argument that the state was putting the wrong person on trial, was apparently shaken up and convinced enough anyway, to elect not to retry the case, after the jury was hung 6 to 6 on conviction vs. acquittal.

And that hung jury, in turn, was the result of Jack's brilliant closing for the defense - presented by someone whose main work, as we see again at the very end, was talking his clients into plea bargaining for the fee of $250.   And why was Jack not Chandra giving the summation?  Because she was sidelined by the judge, whose response to the video of her kissing Naz in prison was not to declare a mistrial but reprimand Chandra.   So in that indirect way, Chandra came through for Naz after all.

And she came through for him directly, too, in presenting strong arguments for reasonable doubt regarding the three suspects other than Naz.   She and Jack made a great team in the end, and I wouldn't mind at all if there was another season with a completely new story with those two once again acting for the defense against almost impossible odds.

The Night Of was a rare piece of surprising legal drama - rare because it was original and surprising in a genre that's been mined on television just about every year since Perry Mason back in the 1950s.
Plaudits to everyone concerned, including John Turturro whose acting is more peerless than ever, Amara Karan and lots of fine acting from people we haven't seen before, and a letter-perfect script by Richard Price.

See also The Day After The Night Of on HBO ... The Night Of #3: The Schlep vs. the Star ... The Night Of #4: Chandra To The Rescue ... The Night Of #6: Three Suspects ... The Night Of #7: The Kiss

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