HBO’s The Night Of – Episode 8: The Call of the Wild

HBO’s Limited Series The Night Of has passed before my eyes and I’m sure of good number of your eyes. I hated to see it end, and as we have heard for thousand of years, no matter what happens to each and every one of us – the wheels will keep turning.

SPOILER ALERT – If you’ve not watched the finale yet, come back after you’ve seen it. And for those of you who have seen this very fine show – all 8 episodes – let’s get into it.

Here are the predictions, as in possible outcomes, I made in my previous post about the show:

Naz did it, and was found guilty on all counts by the jury.
Naz didn’t do it, and was still found guilty.
Naz did it but was found innocent.
The jury cannot decide – a hung jury occurs.
Naz is killed in prison before the verdict.
Naz is found innocent and released but is killed by an anti-Muslim nut job in the streets of Queens.

Obviously, within that list, is the outcome that we did get, and to be honest, I believe that it is the least likeable resolution.

We are left with the murderer still walking the streets of New York. Zaillian and Price have not pushed us in a specific direction. Rather they have pushed us in many directions meaning that it is necessary to have to STILL consider that Andrea’s murderer may have been:

Don Taylor – the stepfather
Duane Reade – the convict with a lengthy sheet of agg assaults, in which he used a knife found in the victim’s home
Mr. Day – The Limo driver who may have followed Naz and Andrea from the Upper West Side gas station.

And we still aren’t sure if Naz did it or not.

Then there’s the new suspect – the financial advisor, Now there’s no indication that he can actually be tied to the murder itself. He may have been a thief and a cheat, but at this time, we have nothing other than his phone records and the financial records that connect him to Andrea. He is the listed financial advisor on the statements. And the phone logs showed that there were multiple calls between his number and Andrea;s  many times. Plus the phone tracking shows that he was NOT where he said he was. He said he was home at the time of the murder – but the cell phone tower logs show something else. And the CCTV of his neighbor hood showed that his car arrived on the block of his residence well past the time of the murder.

But are those facts any more conclusive than  those that Mrs. Weiss brought to Naz’s trial in the first place?

We are left with some unavoidable conclusions:

That kiss between Chandra Kapoor and Naz would come back to haunt her. Is her career in law over? Will she be disbarred or merely reprimanded? At minimum she’s lost her job.

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HBO’s The Night Of – Episode 7: Ordinary Death

Just one episode remains of the hit HBO Limited Series – The Night Of. The case and trial haven’t been decided yet, but (SPOILERS TO FOLLOW) in this, the penultimate episode there was enough info brought out in the trial to make the jurors decision quite tricky. Ours too for that matter.

Especially since the episode had begun with Detective Box and another detective at a crime scene. A woman had been stabbed to death with multiple wounds. Box would say, This looks just like the Andrea Cornish murder. The response from the other detective: Yeah another uptown misdemeanor murder.

Nice opening – makes you immediately consider that while Naz Khan is on trial, the real murderer is still out there doing his thing. This also made think of a similar set  of circumstances in The Shawshank Redemption when Tommy was told by another con how he did the crime that some banker (Andy Dufresne) had gotten sent to prison for.

Weiss did a fine job in getting Dr. Chester, and his previously ‘coached’ testimony into the proceedings. This was the testimony that the wound of Naz’s palm was caused by his hand slipping onto the blade during the thrusting of the knife into the victim repeatedly.

But Defense Attorney Chandra Kapoor went straight to work on the ME. She subtly poked a hole in his credentials if not his testimony by bringing up another case that this ME’s testimony was in part a responsible element resulting in a conviction. However that conviction (the Arthur Metz case) was later overturned in an appellate court appeal. The ME called it an interpretative judgement – the appellate court had not agreed with Chester’s interpretation. Chester would say it wasn’t a mistake – it was a different interpretation.. But Chandra had won the point. ME’s can and do make mistakes.

Weiss also had the High School coach who testified that not only did Naz throw a student down a flight of steps, but he also referenced a second instance of Naz over-reacting physically. Upon his return from a two-week suspension, Naz had thrown a full can of Coke at another student , creating a wound that required 12 stitches on the boy’s face. Kapoor had been unaware of this event, as Naz had not told his attorney about it.

Weiss closed the State’s case with Detective Box who would say that he’d been a homicide detective for 13 years, and had been a NYC Police Officer for 33 years. He would go on to say that he would take evidence over a confession and day of the week. 

After the state had rested their prosecution, Box would be dismissed from the trial. He was a prosecution witness. Stone would have to get a Judicial Summons to get Box back on the stand. Which he did.

Chandra then took on Detective Box in direct and led him into a couple of traps. He had to admit that he knowingly broke a chain of custody rule by taking Nasir Khan’s asthma inhaler out of evidence/custody and giving it to Naz to alleviate his trouble breathing.

What’s more, Box stated in direct that he had interviewed only one suspect, Nasir Khan. Kapoor sprung the trap by showing the video footage of Box interviewing the young black man called Trevor. When Kapoor asked Box if he had interviewed either Duane Reade who had been with Trevor on W.87th Street that night, the hearse driver who had been parked at the gas station where Naz refueled the taxi, or the witness from across the street from where Andrea lived, Box could only say that he didn’t interview witnesses when he had enough evidence already in hand. Box would go on to say that he couldn’t interview someone he wasn’t aware of.

Kapoor then played the video of the hearse driver at the gas station which Detective Box had scrupulously collected. Since there could be nothing Box could say about that – Box again reiterated that evidence is always preferable to a confession.

Chandra pounced on that by stating the Nasir Khan had never confessed during his interrogation in the precinct, had not confessed during his subsequent booking and bail hearings, and finally, Naz had not confessed when a 15 year sentence plea bargain deal was offered to him rather than losing in a trial and getting a life sentence or a death sentence.

Definitely a bad day for Detective Box on the stand.

Meanwhile Stone had asked some questions, interviewed some people, taken it upon himself to follow Taylor around, all for the purpose of finding out more about Don Taylor, Andrea’s stepfather. Stone’s connections supplied the following – all of Taylor’s credit cards had been maxed out, and that Taylor, if he would declare bankruptcy again – it would be for the third time. Taylor, would be called a trapeze artist by his ex-wife. When Stone asked, she said – You know, a trapeze artist, swinging from one old bag to another. A joke she said. But she also told Stone that she had paid Taylor $200K to go away rather than fight through a contested divorce settlement.

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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.

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HBO’s The Night Of – Episode 5: The Season of the Witch

This is a recap with spoilers and hopefully this will help you prepare for tonight’s episode.

Borrowing a couple of examples from baseball, the hit HBO TV series The Night Of, which aired its 5th Episode, called The Season of The Witch, last Sunday night, was comparable to, first, an ace pitcher, who held back his most dominant and killer pitches early in the game. Then as the game approached its home stretch, this pitcher unwrapped his best stuff and began to blow batters away.

Or, the batters, meaning Steve Zaillian, the director and co-writer of the series, and his writing partner Richard Price – each came up to the plate and knocked one out of the park, as in a home run.

That said, and I will add that I thought this was the best episode since the first one – however, I’m not claiming that this was an episode without some problems.

From a viewer’s perspective, the Episode basically concentrated on 4 characters who were all involved in doing what they’re supposed to do.

ADA Helen Weiss (Jeannie Berlin) is the prosecutor the case. She examines the video footage of the time when Naz had pulled his cab over, somewhere either within or near the East Village to get his bearings. The video feed discloses that two men had gotten into his cab and Naz had refused service. After all, he wasn’t a licensed taxi driver. He didn’t even know how to turn off the Taxi sign on the roof of the cab.

Weiss: He didn’t want two guys. He wanted a girl. Then when Andrea gets into his taxi, he doesn’t immediately turn her away. This is the A-HA moment for Weiss. She says to her colleagues – There it is. He wanted a woman in the cab. That’s premeditation.

Maybe.

At this point Weiss has no idea if Andrea offered either money, sex, or drugs to Naz in exchange for transporting her to where she wanted to go. We know what happened in the cab. But Weiss doesn’t. Nevertheless, she could easily convince a jury that this was the premeditation.

We next see Weiss when she runs into Detective Box (Bill Camp), who Weiss has heard is turning in his retirement papers. They talk and we learn that Box doesn’t want to open a bar, or get a commercial fishing licence, or some other retirement gig. Weiss says, So what does that leave? Golf?

Weiss also tells Box that she wants him to plot out a timeline/travel line for Naz. She wants to know exactly where Naz went and when after he left his parents apartment in Jackson Heights and eventually ended up on W.87th Street.

Box gets into it and they did a great job of making it watchable. Certainly watching a man look at CCTV footage, then consulting papers documenting his credit card usage, phone logs, cell phone tower logs, ATM logs, and so forth does not inherently make for great TV. But this is the grunt work needed for investigations, and it went by easily.

Getting back to Weiss. When Naz was arrested he had a gash on the palm of his hand. Weiss thinks this ‘event’ will play better for her in the trial, if she can present testimony that the  cut came from the way Naz handled the knife (while he was stabbing Andrea) instead of cutting his hand when he punched in a panel of the glass in the door of the 87th Street building to retrieve his jacket.

So Weiss visits the coroner. Obviously they have a lengthy professional history and are on a first name basis.  Weiss enters and the ME is drawing fluids from a corpse. An actual corpse. She asks if they can discuss the probability of a knife wielding hand slipping down to the blade area because the blade thrust hit bone.

Now the scene includes Weiss coaching the ME about what to say and how to say it as well as more views of a male penis – the inert dead man’s penis – than you normally care to see on your tv. Many have objected to it. But the main takeaway is that both the ADA and the ME are doing their jobs, and the sight of a nude dead body on a table in the morgue has no more impact on them as when a yellow cab passes us on the street when we are not looking for one.

Whether Price and Zaillian are saying that the jobs of the ADA and the ME have dehumanized each of them as they continue to do their work; so much so that they can barely distinguish between a corpse on a table in the morgue from an empty table in the morgue.

Of course this is up for interpretation by each of us.

Next let’s have a look at John Stone (John Turturro).

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The Night Of: Episode 4 – The Art of War – Recap and Commentary

Episode 4 of the HBO hit series The Night Of aired Sunday night. The episode was entitled The Art of War which certainly can be called a reference to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu because what we had in this episode was, aside from the fact that we saw no tanks, howitzers, or automatic weapons, definitely within war’s parameters.

Episode 4 of the HBO hit series The Night Of aired Sunday night. The episode was entitled The Art of War which certainly can be called a reference to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu because what we had in this episode was, aside from the fact that we saw no tanks, howitzers, or automatic weapons, definitely within war’s parameters.

Here’s what he said –

“I left my parents’ house to go to a party in Manhattan. I got lost and Andrea got into the back of the cab, thinking I was the real cab driver. We drove uptown. We talked. She gave me something — some pill. We went back to her place. We drank. She gave me something else — some powder. We went up to her bedroom. We had sex. And then, I fell asleep and woke up in the kitchen. I went upstairs to get my clothes and say goodbye. I went to her. And I saw that she was dead. I panicked. I ran.

“That’s all I remember.”

Later Naz would be on the receiving end of a prison made napalm dousing. Hot boiling water, accessible from a wall spigot so the prisoners can make tea, plus a dollop of baby oil is altogether way too hot and incendiary for the human skin to handle.

Speaking of skin, Stone continued to wrap his feet in Crisco and Saran Wrap, which basically did nothing for him. Poking and prodding with a wooden chopstick wasn’t a good idea either. So Stone visited a new doctor who prescribed a corticosteroid, a drug taken orally, instead of topically.

That led us to Stone’s neighborhood pharmacy where we got a cameo by Fisher Stevens as a chatty pharmacist. Oh you don’t want to take these, said the pharmacist, Because there are serious side effects.

Like what, said Stone.

Like severe loss of hair, shrinkage of your testicles, and a heavy dose of acne.

Scary, huh. But I’m told this isn’t correct. These are the side effects of anabolic steroids, but not necessarily corticosteroids. Lacking a degree in either pharmacology or medicine – I’m just passing this on. But I won’t bet on its accuracy.

As I said above, Alison Crowe decided to step away – because as she said before no one wants a trial if avoidable. So basically she attempted to get Naz to take a plea deal. The same thing she had warned the Khans that Stone would do. Plus she was not interested in spending her law firm’s time and energy and money in defending Naz. That’s why she wanted Naz to take the deal.

So, as expected, this brings Stone back into play. He’s still working the case (in his detective mode) which was something that Detective Box was no longer doing. Stone took pictures with his sell phone, and discovered that Andrea had some connection to a rehab facility called Invictus House for drug addicts.

This led us to another cameo. This time it was Aida Turturro, who is John Turturro’s real life cousin. We all remember Aida who played Janice Soprano.

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 7.26.37 PM

Any way Stone makes a deal with a sleazy guy who was with Aida, who promises to get Stone images of all of Andrea’s records at this drug rehab in exchange for $350 dead presidents. Of course these copies would be inadmissible as such.

Stone, as well as Detective Box, also attended, or should I say watched from the periphery Andrea’s funeral. This resulted in a brand new possible suspect. Don Taylor, Andrea’s step Dad was seen having a heated conversation with a young man. Stone got some of this on video. Who is he?

Later Stone approaches Chandra Kapoor , the Indian lawyer, whose parents were from Mumbai. She’s the one who worked for Alison Crowe. She has since then agreed to represent Naz. She agrees to buy the docs from Stone for $500. Oh that Stone, always playing the angles.

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HBO’s The Night Of – Episode 3 – The Dark Crate: Recap & Review

The Night Of, the hit series currently airing on Sunday nights on HBO, unwrapped Episode Three called The Dark Crate last night. The Dark Crate is a reference spoken by inmate Freddy about how young lambs are kept (or more accurately imprisoned) prior to being taken to the slaughter-house. That’s what Freddy was speaking of.

But below the surface it is also a reference to Naz with Naz being confined and really not knowing or understanding how dire his circumstances are – just like the lambs confined to their crates.

While the reference was only a small slice of the episode, it did lead up to Freddy asking Naz if he wanted Freddy’s protection in this particular over-crowded cell block in Rikers.

We didn’t see or hear Naz’s answer to Freddy, but whether Naz did not answer or answered either in the affirmative or the negative, it seems clear that this is not the last we’ll hear about Freddy’s protection.

Williams as Freddy

Williams as Freddy in The Night Of

By the way, Freddy is portrayed by Michael Kenneth Williams who was the actor who played Omar Little in HBO’s The Wire. For the record, Williams also had a small role in HBO’s The Sopranos Season 3.

Williams as Omar

Williams as Omar in The Wire

The episode itself breaks down into three areas: The case and Naz’s lawyers, Naz’s entry into Rikers, and the aftermath about what happened to Naz’s father’s cab. While the cab remains missing neither the elder Khan nor his two partners can make a living. And at this point I am shocked that neither the elder Khan or his wife have even asked either the police or Naz about the cab.

As far as the investigation, it seems that Detective Box thinks he has a slam-dunk case. Meaning there’s been nothing new from him.

Stone (John Turturro) continues with his agita provoking skin disease. His latest advice from his skin doctor – Coat your foot and lower leg in Crisco All Vegetable Shortening then wrap it all up tight with Saran Wrap. Then Stone sits in at his support group. But he’s got a tough assignment ahead of him.

He’s got to see Nasir Khan’s parents about his fee. Now Stone is known in the criminal justice system as a lockup crawler. Which means most of his clients are going to receive a plea offer rather than a trial. That’s because an accepted plea offer is easier on everyone from judges, prosecutors, and other assorted court officers. So at Stone’s urging most take the deal. Which means that Stone hasn’t much if any in the way of trial experience.

He’s sort of a low-rent version of Tom Cruise’s Lt. Daniel Kaffee in A Few Good Men. He’s also sort of a modern version Lt. Columbo – which means he doesn’t shave every day, his clothes are down market, he’s just this side of disheveled. It also means that he cannot command the high fees of more experience criminal trial lawyers.

So he does his spiel for the Khans. After telling them that most criminal trial lawyers get $150K and up. Or on an hourly basis every meeting, every call, every note taken and on and on carries a charge. So to help the Khans, he offers to do the case for $75K – a figure well beyond their means. Eventually he comes down to $50K but the Khans must sign off on that figure right now – and we’ll worry about the fee payments schedule later.

But the Khans can’t even see their way at that ‘bargain’ rate. Mr. Khan tells Stone that he has just $8K in the bank.

So Stone leaves without a signed retainer statement. He heads over to the DA’s office where he meets the ADA in charge. That would be Jeannie Berlin as Helen Weiss. She’s not willing to offer a plea deal, and the best she can do is to offer Stone a card of a tailor she knows. Get yourself a new suit. Tell him I sent you. Anything but brown. 

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HBO’s The Night Of – Episode 2 – Subtle Beast

On Sunday night HBO rolled out Episode 2 in its new series The Night Of. The episode’s title, Subtle Beast is a reference to Detective Dennis Box (Bill Camp). Box, like any good detective wants to solve the case. ****SOME SPOILERS AHEAD*****

But this is where it gets tricky. Box wears sympathy on his face, and when he speaks, we hear sympathetic tones.

After discussing the case with the DA, he understands that a confession would a) solve the case, and b) would go a long ways toward making the case as open and shut as he wants it to be.

But when Box interceded with the desk sergeant to allow Naz’s parents an opportunity to see their son and talk with him, he was again showing a sympathetic side. Of course Box knew that he would not be breaking any rules if he monitored the conversation between Naz and his folks.

Box and all detectives may NOT listen or view any discussions between the suspect and his attorney. But no such rule exists for family members.

Naz noted the camera mounted on the wall and after that, he told Box that he would not speak with him anymore.

Apparently the advice that had been repeated and repeated often by attorney Jack Stone (played by the marvelous John Turturro) at last, had sunk in.

But there’s more, much more going on other than what Detective Box does or wants to do. Let’s talk about Attorney Jack Stone. We got a good look at his skin ailment (eczema or psoriasis) on his legs and feet. How did that happen? Mostly because Stone was wearing sandals and was sockless. Not only did we get a good look at his bare ankles and feet, but so did some of the passengers riding in the same subway car as did Stone. Stone was kind of low-rent in his way. We know that he found his clients by hanging around in precinct station houses. So it was perfectly normal for him to say that he got the case because he was ‘in the right place at the right time.’

We also found out that Stone had a black wife (or ex-wife) and an adult son. That’s about all we learned (about Stone’s personal life) this week as no other background or back story was provided.

We also learned that the New York Justice System was kind of an old boys club. Jack Stone knew the personnel at various precincts, he knew bailiffs, and was on a first name basis with some judges. As we heard – you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

But more than that, we are to understand the monolithic structure of the New York Justice System as a self-contained structure that had been and would be an institution forever. The lawyers, judges, prosecutors, as well the victims and perpetrators would change; they’d come and go, and no matter who was speaking in any of the courtroom, the system retained its own life.

And that made it all the more scary as watched, protected by being in the safety of our own living rooms as young Nasir Khan began his own trip into the depths of the system. I can’t give the writer Richard Price and the Director Steve Zaillian enough credit in this regard.

From a holding pen in the 2-1, Khan was transported via a van to the Tombs, a jail connected to the NYC Criminal Courts building. Khan was marched from the van into the depths of the Tombs. The walk seemed to be ever-downward through a series of gates, fences, locked doorways that  needed to be buzzed from a control station in order to open.

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HBO’s New Limited Series – The Night Of – Episode One – The Beach – Recap and Review

HBO premiered the first hour (plus) of its limited series called The Night Of on Sunday night, July 10th. It is an 8 hour 8 episode series, so let’s have a look at it. ****Major Spoilers ahead****

As the show opens we are in a classic college lecture hall. The subject is math, specifically Calculus III, and the Stokes Theorem. Most of us will not be able to make any sense of the what the professor is saying or have any interest in the theorem or equation he’s just written on the blackboard. This runs about 30 seconds.

Cut to the college’s gymnasium, some guys are involved in a pick-up basketball game and others sit on the bench. Our main character is not going to play, he’s just hanging out with friends. Another 30 seconds for this.

His name is Nazir Khan. He’s played by Riz Ahmed. Now Ahmed is an actor you’ve likely seen before.

He was the guy hired by Jake Gillenhaal in the 2014 hit film Nightcrawler (which I reviewed here). Before that I saw (and reviewed) his film The Reluctant Fundamentalist in 2012. And before that he played Jay in the remake of the Thomas Hardy novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles. The film was called Trishna and it was released in 2011.

Ahmed will soon appear in the new Jason Bourne film opening later this month as well as the upcoming Star Wars film, Rogue One, which opens around Christmas.

So we can say that the dude is getting some very good roles. Here, he’s an American college kid born of Pakistanimmigrants, and soon enough he’s invited to a party that night at 55 Center Street in downtown Manhattan.

Anyhow his Dad picks him up at the college, and then they are off to 74th Street in Jackson Heights, a New York version of Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk neighborhood. Here there is a vibrant and bustling community of Indians and Pakistanis. Nazir’s Mom works at a sari/salwar kameez shop His parents have two sons and he’s the youngest. The father drives a medallion taxi cab.

When his mother asks what his plans are for the night, he tells her that he’s going to a party in downtown. His mother disapproves.

Later, after his friend is unable to get a hold of a car, and his parents have retired to their bedroom. he grabs the keys to the taxi and heads out of Jackson Heights, Queens, New York for lower Manhattan.

Nazir doesn’t know much about driving a car, much less a taxi. If you are driving from Jackson Heights, Queens to downtown Manhattan you don’t take the Queens Midtown Tunnel (and pay a toll). Instead you take the Brooklyn Bridge and pay no toll. Plus when you get off the bridge, you are right there at Center street.

He doesn’t turn his taxi light off or to Off-Duty. So he’s plagued by people hailing him or getting into his cab. This also means he has no idea how to lock the taxi’s back doors.

Now these are not major flaws in the story, but they do set up Nazir as naive, and inexperienced, as well as seriously lacking in street smarts.

Nazir doesn’t know it yet – but when this young woman, Andrea Cornish (played by Sofia Black-D’Elia) gets into his cab, his whole life is going to change for ever.

She’s an attractive woman, and she doesn’t want to hear that he’s not on duty. Finally he relents and says where do you want to go? She says, the beach. He says, well this is Manhattan, how about the river. Okay she says. And they end up sitting on an old wooden landing, on the Manhattan side of the Hudson River just south of the George Washington Bridge.

Soon this woman offers him a pill. He refuses but then ultimately takes it. Really? I may have been willing to share a joint with a stranger back in the day – but a pill. No way.

Finally she’s ready to go home which turns out to be an elegant brownstone at 144 West 87th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. Nazir parks in front of water hydrant. Another mistake.

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Murder in the First: Season Three Episode Three – Black and Blue

TNT’s Murder in the First aired its 3rd episode of Season Three last night. And once again series creators and writers Steven Bochco and Eric Lodal gave us a lackluster and misguided episode complete with another god-awful bait and switch.

You know what I mean by the terms bait & switch don’t you? Strictly speaking, bait and switch is primarily a tactic used by advertisers or in a sales offer to lure you to the store or sales site by making an offer that looks too good to resist, then when you show up, either the offer has been discontinued, or they will say the product has sold out – would you be interested in this instead.

In a television series, a bait and switch basically plays out like this – a problem is created for one or more characters in a specific week. Then, the following week, the so-called serious problem is miraculously or quickly (and unexpectedly) solved. So there’s no more problem.

This season, Murder in the First gave us their first bait and switch issue in week one. Detective Hildy Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson) is told she has breast cancer. Her doctor told her to ‘get her affairs in order’.

Then early in Episode Two, Hildy is contacted by the same doctor. It seems that at the lab, the biopsy tissues got mixed up. You don’t have cancer. It was just a mistake at the lab.

Really?

How creative!

Not at all. What we have here is a straight forward manipulation. The intent was to get Detectives English (Taye Diggs) and Mulligan in bed together. Which they did. In a simpler term than manipulation it was just a ‘ploy’.

Then later in episode Two, they get a lead on the location of Billy James, the former friend of the slain quarterback Normandy Parker, who has quickly become a lead suspect.

Mulligan and English and a SWAT team don their Kevlar vests, and saddle up to capture this guy. Of course they knock down the door of an apartment and rush in. English heads down a hall way and hears something in a bedroom. This guy is escaping through a window. English gives chase.

Ultimately, the fleeing suspect runs himself into a dead-end, and is cornered. English sees him reach behind him for a weapon. Before the suspect can get off a shot, English puts 4 bullets in the guy’s chest. He’s dead before he hits the ground.

Only the dead guy had no weapon that the police could find.

Now Terry is in the crosshairs of being a policeman who killed an unarmed man. A story line ripped right from the front pages of today’s newspapers across this land.

Then early in Episode Three, after English had been grilled by I.A. and he told them he saw the gun tucked into the waistband of the man’s pants as he was going out the window. And after Detective Mulligan had lied to the I.A. investigators by saying that she too had seen the weapon. She was lying to back up her partner.

Then, a youngish black woman shows up at police HQ with her 10-year-old son. They hand over a handgun. The boy says he found the gun in the area of the tree mural on the wall of a building. The very place where Detective English had rushed past while in pursuit of the fleeing suspect.

Later, the crime unit forensics tests had found the dead guy’s finger prints on the gun’s magazine.

So case closed. The Police Commissioner told the media that Detective English had been cleared. So, so long to Detective English’s problem and Detective Mulligan’s lie. It was that easy.

Of course there is a kicker. The dead guy wasn’t Billy James after all.

So the story of the investigation of the quarterback’s murder is still ongoing. The quarterback is still dead, and the possible shooter, one Billy James is still in the wind.

Of course, he will be captured and hauled in for questioning by the end of Episode Three. And you do know what that will result in, right?

Of course. While the police lay out all the options to the silent Billy James, like get ahead of the curve and tell us who hired you, and make it easy on yourself – tell us who paid you.

All Billy James would say is – I want a lawyer.

But what really rankles me is the story that just won’t go away. That would be DA Mario Siletti’s DUI and Vehicular homicide case. Siletti remained an asshat well into this, the third episode. First he waited for ADA Melissa Danson in the park where she jogged every day. She said – what are you doing stalking me? Which of course he was doing.

Then Siletti managed to corner the State Attorney General to ask for his help. The State AG listened and then told Siletti the case is in the hands of ADA Danson and you will not be getting any preferential treatment.

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