HBO’s The Night Of – Episode 6: Samson and Delilah

After last Sunday’s great Episode 5, I expected a little bit of a drop-off in quality this week in the HBO Limited Series The Night Of.  I wasn’t wrong about that. The episode begins with a peculiar scene.

John Stone is cleaning the cat litter box. To the best of my knowledge, as a long time cat owner, I can say that I never cleaned the litter box by placing it on my kitchen counter, as Stone did. But this is not really here nor there in advancing the story. I just thought it was strange.

Stone will later visit one Dr. Yee, at a Chinese Apocathery with an office on East Broadway in New York’s Chinatown. Without me getting very precise, I’ll say this, Yee looked at each of Stone feet and lower legs, and Stone asked, Can you help me?, Yee answered in the affirmative. Yee offered up some sort of powder and suggested that Stone mix a spoonful or so with water. The finished concoction didn’t look pretty, and it cost $300 cash (no credit cards) for an ounce of the powder which Yee measured into a plastic baggie.

Guess what – it worked. With the eczema gone, soon Stone was trying on a brand new pair of shoes to wear to the upcoming trial of Nasir Khan.

Chandra Kapoor, Khan’s lawyer, was hard at work, as was Stone – but more on Stone later.

By looking at the CCTV video clips, that were available to her, Chandra was able to trace the funeral hearse that was parked at the gas station on the Upper West Side, where Naz and Andrea had stopped. You will come to see that this man, the hearse driver who was also probably a mortician as well, seemed, no, make that was, truly kind of creepy.

Chandra looks him up (likely she was able to trace his license plate number to an address). He’s at his funeral home and at first he says he can’t spare even a minute which seemed strange as he was lounging around with the tv on. This guy hasn’t a favorable opinion about women which at this point you are supposed to wonder if he is another suspect (or a red herring) – after all he might have followed Andrea and Naz to W.87th Street the next stop on the carefully researched itinerary prepared by Detective Box.

But rather than dismissing Chandra, they go into the back room where this guy begins to add nail polish to a deceased woman’s fingernails. While he does this he is carefully quoting the story of Samson and Delilah to at least point out a biblical reference of women’s perfidy.

Chandra needed to acquire a bible in order to absorb this fully. And Stone offered this – No more Nancy Drew investigations for you. If you want to talk to someone bring me along.

Chandra and Stone meet at a bar. Here Chandra was given a primer in jury selection. Stone would say, Get as many young urban women as possible. The only thing that matters to them is what they think (their own opinions). We only need one; meaning just one jury member to believe Khan is innocent.

Chandra is drinking heavily and she tells Stone that she has broken up with her boyfriend. Stone says, So you’re alone. So am I. Stone is not a cad who would take advantage of a drunken woman. When Chandra signals the bartender for another drink (it would be her third in five minutes) Stone then signals the bartender to cut her off – no more drinks. He does this even though we can see that his interest in Chandra has increased from co-counsel to something more.

Meanwhile at Rikers, Freddy is smoking meth and talking with Naz. He gives Naz a burner phone. By now Naz has bulked up a bit more and taken on some prison tats, but Naz doesn’t take a hit off the pipe.

Later another con asks Naz if he may use the phone. Naz turns him down. Freddy will later chastise Naz for this indiscretion. The phone is a money-maker (Freddy actually referred to it as a cash machine). You can get $10 a minute for letting them use it. Freddy will also attempt to give Naz a white shirt and a nice tie. Naz refuses to take them. Freddy, quite knowledgeable about court room appearances is not upset. He merely says, It’s your funeral.

Naz says simply that his family will bring him some clothes. Freddy says, Family is everything.

Things proceed. Stone continues to care for the cat, even playing with it (albeit through a door). Chandra works on her opening statement. Stone tries to get Chandra to see him as a man rather than just co-counselor. But she’s not going down that path at the moment.

Finally it is the day of the trial. Naz’s parents bring him a shirt and tie – a dark blue shirt. Stone is horrified at the bad choice. You look like an extra from West Side Story. You’re the defendant – you have to wear a white shirt. So Stone gives up his white shirt to Naz and they make the exchange even as the jury is filing in.

Weiss opens the trial, and her opening statement is neither fiery, nor eloquent – but it does place Naz in a very bad light. She’s even calling him a car thief as well as a murderer. Chandra’s opening is written in the hallway of the courts. Talk about last-minute.

For sure, Chandra’s statement is even briefer than Weiss’s. She closes by telling the jury that she has no obligation to prove that Khan is innocent. It is the job of the prosecution to prove that he is guilty.

Then Weiss calls her witnesses, the patrol cops who first pulled Khan over, and then take him with them when they respond to the call about the break-in on W.87th.

The officer who drove Khan back to the precinct house testifies that Khan was silent except for one question. Was she dead?

Chandra, Stone, and Khan sit passively as Weiss does her job. Chandra is able to make an objection when Weiss refers to Khan as being drunk. Chandra’s objection is – You can’t say he was drunk as no breathalyzer test was administered. Chandra’s objection is sustained.

We relive the moments when the lady police officer is patting down Khan in the precinct house.. They’re going to release him as too much time has passed, and there’s no point in administering a test for alcohol consumption now. But the pat down is protocol, and so she finds the knife.

And what happened next asks Weiss. He tried to make a run for it – to escape. The video shows that it took three cops to wrestle Khan down.

That’s about it for the first day of the trial. We did not see the voir-dire  (jury selection preliminary questioning by counsel or the judge). This was unexpected as we had watched and listened to Stone giving Chandra the rundown of whom to not take and who you’d want for the jury. So I wanted to see at least some of this in play.

In all, the first day of the trial was cut into precise and concise segments. Weiss was very effective – but it seemed a tad rushed. I would have liked to see a bit more.

After the court, Stone begins to wonder about how a party girl like Andrea who was also unemployed could afford to live in that elegant brownstone on W. 87th. A check of public records and a look at the probate records show that Andrea inherited the building from her Mom (now deceased). Within those records Stone finds the name of the CFA who was handling the financials of the estate.

Stone finds the guy and confronts him in that office. The guy is reluctant to talk but they finally come to an understanding. What ever is discussed is off the record.

Two things come out of this discussion. One – this is the guy that Andrea’s step father was seen arguing with at Andrea’s funeral (Stone had video of this on his phone). And two – the step father works as a personal trainer. He seems to have a client base of wealthy and older women. But he doesn’t make a lot of money as a trainer. I think the amount quoted was just $30k.

But this man, Don Taylor (played by Paul Sparks) had asked Andrea to sell the building and split the proceeds with him. She refused. In fact she was quite succinct as she said (according to the CFA) Over my dead body….

My takeaway from Episode Six was that it wasn’t nearly as enthralling as Episode Five.

But Chandra has now provided another possible suspect, and Stone has confirmed Don Taylor as having a real motive (the building would be worth about 10 million), so that now Taylor would definitely have to be included as a suspect.

Meanwhile Naz is bused back to Rikers. He works out. He smokes meth. He sees something he wasn’t meant to see ( a homosexual sex act between a young prisoner and one of Freddy’s crew).  Which will result in Naz being threatened with a blade to his neck in the shower. What did you see. Naz – nothing. Will you tell Freddy? Naz – No.

Box has uncovered a new revelation about Naz as well. Naz started at Flushing High School in Queens, a few blocks from where he lived. Then he transferred to a school in the Bronx. Box wondered – Why would a student transfer to a school 40 minutes away by subway instead of staying at a school he could walk to.

The answer that came back was scary. Naz had thrown a student down a flight of steps (the student got a broken arm from the fall) which resulted in Naz receiving a two-week suspension. So Naz, once thought of as a ‘Good Boy’ now has another instance of extreme violence come to light. When questioned by Chandra, Naz replied that he was tired of being bullied.

He claimed to have felt nothing about what he did in the aftermath. He did admit to being sorry that he had disappointed his parents.

So with just two episodes remaining, it is beginning to seem less and less likely that Naz is innocent of the charge of killing Andrea. At least that is what Price and Zaillian have set in motion for us to consider. But they’ve also provided at least two more possible suspects – Don Taylor and the limo-driver. That is in addition to Duane Reade.

The plot thickens, and the mystery of who killed Andrea deepens. Plus the character arcs go something like this –

Stone has come out of the dark and is on the rise. Chandra seems to be emerging  as well. But Naz – it seems as if he has already decided that prison will be all that his future holds for him. It is not a pretty picture. It looks like a fall into oblivion for him.

Until next time.

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One thought on “HBO’s The Night Of – Episode 6: Samson and Delilah

  1. I don’t have cable so I’m hoping this would get to Amazon or Netflix soon! LOVE Riz Ahmed in all the stuff I’ve seen him in so far, this looks like a captivating mystery drama.

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