“Is She Dead?”
Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
Life can change in an instant, be you a good person or not. The Night Of confirms that in the opening of its eight-part miniseries. The hook of the drama is the mystery it sets forth. And that mystery is far from generic in its presentation, leaving me perplexed as to what went down (sorry for this) the night of the gruesome murder of one Andrea.
The protagonist and prime suspect is Naz, a young, Pakistani-American guy who isn’t on the front line socially. He’s introduced as nothing more than a tutor for his college’s basketball team and a beloved brother and son. Though, when nightfall hits, the show sinks deep into its dark, ominous and almost dream-like tone that will be pervasive until this chapter ends. This ride The Night Of grants its viewers admission to is terrifying from top to bottom. Naz is joined by an unexpected passenger, Andrea, in his father’s taxi; this will end up being his downfall. Naz’s character is oblivious to a lot, and that’s what makes him the perfect lead character to surround with this life-altering occurrence.
Naz, in a series of bumbling but natural blunders, leaves a string of evidence. Watching everything catch up to him as the police gathers evidence and witnesses was like watching a burning fuse run out. The best thing about all this is the thrill is never forced. Director Steven Zaillian doesn’t play up the intensity with exaggerated camera cuts or with an overamplified score, instead, the writing in the show speaks for itself. In fact, in the half-hour segment where Naz awakens in Andrea’s kitchen to the moment Officer Wiggins lifts the knife off of him, there is no music to play up a naturally tense time span.
With a great mystery show in The Night Of, there’s ton of subtle detail planted, hinting at who the killer might be; of course, Naz is prime suspect number one, but there’s the funeral hearse driver from the gas station and Trevor’s friend, who stared suspiciously at Naz and Andrea and who Trevor failed to mention in Sgt. Box’s questioning. There’s sure to be tons of stuff to speculate on as each week uncovers new layers in this murder mystery.
The Night Of is a mystery drama that does justice to the genre. The show is hyper-focused, keeping the narrative singular through the eyes of Naz. The characters naturally pulled into the fray are well-written and well-acted out, forbidding them from devolving into “the lawyer guy,” “the lady cop,” “the black guy” and other typecast characters. The direction from Zaillian is superb in not being perverse in both its violent and sexual nature, trusting the viewer to infer the happenings in those respective situations. Given that it’s a dense miniseries, the writing seems confident in knowing where this story will end and giving the audience what it needs when the show deems worthy. The intensity can only build from here, but you can only be so far on the edge of your seat before a story floors you.
How tense were you throughout the premiere? Who killed Andrea? Tweet me @NerdDotMe. And be sure to follow us @YouNerded.
*We do not comment on anything relating to previews for the next episode and beyond.
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