The Night Of: “The Art of War” Review
Season 1 Episode 4
“I’d Kill To Be 35 Again. Take The Deal.”
Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
“Part 4” refused to hold anything back this week in a heart-pounding barrage of excellent plot point after the next. John escorting himself into a detective role of sorts and Naz’s court and prison stories alike made for one superb episode.
“The Art of War” opened with Naz’s frayed matress being removed with his safety seemingly non-existent. This episode’s pace was nothing short of impressive, giving off a short story-esque vibe. Naz’s mentor-turned-enemy in Calvin Hart served as an excellent catalyst for Naz’s development from fresh meat to someone with top-ranked protection. Last week it was left purposefully vague what Freddy saw in Naz to offer him protection, a phone, a non-orange jumpsuit and what have you, but this week it came down to something innocent: Naz’s knowledge. While I didn’t expect it to be something as stereotypical as sex, I was curious as to why Freddy took an instant liking to Naz. Turns out he just wants to learn more.
Aside from himself, Naz’s prison journey in this episode did much to develop Freddy. There was always going to be more to Freddy, no doubt, but his pride in his high school diploma and his drive to learn more fits well with his character. His brute force violence and his knowledge seem less like competing entities, but instead each being its own half of an active circle. We are bound to see more of Freddy, or at least his influence, in Calvin’s inevitable and inevitably violent downfall per his attack of Naz at this episode’s end.
Naz’s story this week was just as compelling outside of the prison with Alison Crowe actually trying to fight for him. I took Alison as someone with selfish intentions last week, but this week she showed that she wants the best for Naz. In tow with Alison, Chandra showed that she’s not just a shadow of Alison in her brief talk with Naz, one that was meant to sway him to take his plea deal, as she told him simply, “If the answer is yes, take the deal. If the answer is no, don’t.” This in regards to Andrea’s murder, of course. The moment building to Naz about to confess or deny was a mixed stew of dread, intensity and heroism. Naz took the gamble of life in prison rather than 15 years. Not knowing what I would do myself in this position, the moment felt all the more palpable with Naz’s denial. Even John’s line about killing to be 35 again, the age Naz would be when released, had my moral compass scrambled.
John was also essential in this episode, playing the detective role rather than the lawyer. There are a lot of forces fighting for Naz, but never does this negate the insurmountable forces against him. In John’s handy detective skills, we got new info on Andrea and her history with drug abuse. While this doesn’t justify her murder, obviously, anything that’s not against Naz seems to be what John wants. In addition to the file received, John got a glimpse of Andrea’s stepfather, Don Taylor, furiously yelling at a mystery man for attending Andrea’s funeral. The tables were turning all over the place, with circumstances falling in and out of Naz’s favor constantly.
“The Art of War” was the best episode of The Night Of since its premiere just three long weeks ago. With every passing episode, this case seems to get bigger and more chaotic. Seeing the strain on Naz’s family with the media hounds barking at the Khan’s front door and Hassan being harassed at school was hard to watch, albeit beautifully shot. Every second inside Rikers was simply scary. Naz still had Freddy’s protection to consider, but every scene without it, he just seemed vulnerable, making the closing, almost mob-esque, shot one to awe at.
Do you think there’s more to Freddy’s deal? Should Naz have pleaded guilty? Tweet me @NerdDot. Also, be sure to follow us @YouNerded for more ‘The Night Of’ reviews.
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