The Night Of: The Dark Side of Nasir

Aug 17, 2016 by Sarah Moffatt

Oh, Nasir, what are you doing?

Since episode one, I’ve assumed I knew Nasir: a good college student from a hard working family, who tutors athletes in advanced math classes and has an interest in meeting girls, like any twenty-something straight male. That’s it, that’s all we knew about him. As this episode unfolded, I thought, “How has prison changed him so quickly?” But that’s not the case at all. Prison hasn’t changed him, we’re just getting to know the darker side of him – the angry, defensive, troubled side. For the first time, those of us in the diehard Naz Didn’t Do It camp are questioning our charter. While I still believe he’s innocent of killing Andrea, it’s clear that, as Freddy put it, Naz has some rage inside of him. The question is, does he have enough rage to stab a girl 22 times? I think Nasir’s rage comes from being talked down to, which we now have a clear history of: throwing a kid down the stairs in high school because he was being bullied in the long anti-Muslim aftermath of 9/11, and beating up the Baby Oil Guy because he called him a derogatory name. But does that mean he had it in him to murder someone? While it’s all violent, these are drastically different events we’re comparing. Apples and oranges, people. It’s clear Nasir feels like a lone wolf – considering his newest prison tattoo – and isolation can be enough for some people to feel extremely defensive.

As frustrating as it is to see Nasir getting prison tattoos, especially SIN and BAD on his knuckles (using a melted chess piece, no less), there’s something going on there that might help us understand what’s going on between Freddy and Nasir.

During “Season of The Witch,” Nasir was watching boxing with Freddy in his cell, smoking joints, and Freddy and Nasir have this exchange:

Freddy: Sinbad or Aladdin?
Nasir: Which one’s which? (gesturing towards the boxers on TV)
Freddy: Not them, your tag. It’s going to be one or the other, right?
Nasir: (Laughs) Sinbad.
Freddy: My preference, too.

If you put Nasir’s hands together, his tattoo actually says SINBAD. No matter what color shirt he’s wearing, this is unlikely to win him any favor with the jury, but SINBAD is (somewhat) better than just having SIN or BAD carved on his hand. Regardless, it’s important to consider why Nasir and Freddy chose Sinbad over Aladdin.

Sinbad the Sailor (not the 80s comedian) is a fictional hero whose seven voyages are the basis of seven Persian legends. While I’m not going to walk through all seven stories, I do want to point out some striking similarities to Nasir and Freddy’s relationship:

In the first voyage, Sinbad sets out to repair his fortune, but his adventure takes a turn when the ship leaves Sinbad stranded at sea. He floats to a wooded island, where he finds himself in the good graces of the king and eventually becomes a trusted courtier (Freddy taking Nasir under his wing). The ship that had stranded arrives at the island, and Sinbad gives all the goods from the ship to the king. In return, the king gifts him with rich presents, which Sinbad sells off for riches. To me, this sounds an awful lot like Nasir getting a cellphone (the riches), which he sells off for inmates to use, for smuggling drugs in for Freddy (the goods given to the king).

In the third voyage, Sinbad is once again stranded on an island, but this time the crew captain is killed off by a monster, or Freddy killing his right hand man after Nasir tells him what he was doing to the younger kid, who eventually killed himself, ending Freddy’s ability to smuggle drugs in.

In the fourth voyage, Sinbad is given herbs, robbing him of all reason (Nasir smoking weed, and later heroin) to aid in the island savages’ mission to fatten him up and eat him – perhaps this is Freddy’s attempt at making a “convict out of [him] yet,” or perhaps they’re softening him up for some nefarious purpose – we’ll soon find out.

The fifth, sixth and seventh adventures don’t have any obvious parallel to what we’ve seen so far, but the seventh journey ends with Sinbad getting married, defeating demons and returning home with the riches, so perhaps it’s not unreasonable to imagine Nasir might wise up to Freddy’s motives, win his case, earn Chandra’s affections and live happily ever after, right?

No thanks to the investigators or police officers, we’re learning more and more about other possible suspects: Duane Reade last week, Andrea’s stepfather, Don, and the hearse driver this week.

Despite being the creepiest person we’ve gotten to know thus far, I maintain my belief the hearse driver is probably not the killer. While he’s given us motive (he saw Andrea as a “cat”, which is an interesting label considering how much focus is put on her actual cat in the show) and he was very clearly painting the cadaver’s nails with a red liquid that is way too thin to be nail polish, Don (the stepfather) has far more motive and intel to murder Andrea than the hearse driver: He has a past of being with older women, as well as a few restraining orders against him, which obviously hints at violent tendencies. Andrea got everything from her mother when she passed, and Don was not too pleased about that, as we learned when Stone interviewed the money guy, Ray Halle, who he filmed fighting with Don at Andrea’s funeral. Not only did Andrea deny him half of the money, which would’ve added up somewhere around $6 million, she said he could have it over her “dead body.” With Andrea out of the picture, he gets all $12 million now. Like I said last week, the murderer had to be someone who knew the house and knew (or assumed) she’d be home alone. That puts Don as suspect #1 in my book.

Watch The Night Of Sunday at 9pm ET or catch up on HBO on-demand.

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