The Night Of: Who's Manipulating Who?

Jul 27, 2016 by Sarah Moffatt

If Nasir’s case wasn’t already plummeting towards the Earth for a messy landing, it certainly is now.

In my breakdown of episode one, I mentioned how bad it looked for Nasir that a police officer was gagging and puking after seeing the very bloody crime scene but Naz seemed unfazed. As it turns out, the cop is fresh out of the police academy and had never seen a dead body before, but that doesn’t do much to help Naz.

Last week I noted Stone’s observation that Box plays “just inside the lines,” and we got more evidence of that this week: Box asks the two cops who arrested Nasir for the traffic violation to rewrite their reports (and not remove the throwing up part despite the young cop’s request), which makes me wonder just how much Box is flirting with the boundaries of fair play at this point. The puking is not evidence, and does nothing to prove who committed the murder, but it does make it clearer what a brutal crime this was, and could easily influence a jury toward conviction, whoever the defendant is.

If last week’s episode didn’t convince you may not actually be about finding out who the murderer is but rather the firestorm the case is going to turn into, this week tossed a molotov cocktail into the gas puddle: the media, or more specifically media-hungry, Gloria Allred-type lawyer Allison Crowe, who swoops in to steal the case away from Stone.

Even before Crowe’s entrance, we see the media injecting itself into the case: When Stone is in the bathroom at the courthouse, he sees Naz on the cover of the New York Daily News with the headline “Brownstone Butcher” across his forehead. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? The media is under no such standard, and is quick to be judge, jury and executioner. The prosecution seems to be fully aware of the weight this case is going to carry: “Sex, drugs and rock and roll and he’s Muslim? We’re on Nancy Grace every night. Fast track it. Get it in front of the Grand Jury now.” Even Stone, despite his lack of big-league experience, knows this case is on its way to becoming a media feeding frenzy, calling it “Jodi Arias time.” It is interesting Stone brings up the Jodi Arias case because there was a similarity (among a gaggle of differences) that stuck out to me.

When Stone is talking with Helen, we learn Andrea was stabbed 22 times (same as her age, as the prosecutor pointed out), which brings Stone to an excellent point: that’s a passion killing, someone who really knew her. Case in point, Jodi Arias stabbed her boyfriend 25-27 times. When Arias was arrested, she first told police she wasn’t in Mesa, Arizona and hadn’t seen her boyfriend in months, but Nasir was quick to admit he was there but didn’t kill her. Obviously, Nasir isn’t Arias but it’s reasonable to compare and contrast the details since it was brought up anyway.

Allison Crowe is an interesting creature. Clean and soft spoken, she reminds me of President Roosevelt’s ideology: Speak softly and carry a big stick. She’s just as manipulative and cunning as Box, which is exactly the matchup Nasir needs, yet I still find myself convinced Stone is the one to get the job done. And he’s not out of the race yet. I imagine the co-owners of the cab will call Stone for representation, and Stone will use that as leverage to get the case back from Crowe.

To see how manipulative Crowe is – even to her own employee – is astonishing. She blows Box out of the water (at least from what we’ve seen at this point). When she visits Nasir’s parents, she brings an employee she’s clearly never spoken to before, who happens to look and speak the part she needed to cast. She directs the traffic of the conversation so effortlessly: Chandra speaks to Nasir’s mother in Hindi to establish trust right away; she calls a play-by-play of exactly what Stone said about other lawyers taking the money to run; she uses one of Stone’s lines about anyone saying otherwise being a liar; she promises the full attention of her staff, including Chandra, and all of her resources; and, finally, she hits them with the price tag: $0.

There’s a certain resemblance between Freddie and Crowe – they see the vulnerable deer in the headlights and seemingly out of the goodness of their heart, they try to help. But we know that’s not true. Nothing in life, especially in prison or when there’s fame and fortune involved – is free.

Crowe describes Stone to Nazir’s parents exactly the way Stone describes an “affordable” lawyer when he’s negotiating his price: someone who takes on whatever cases are in the courthouse wire basket just to accept the first deal offered, rinse and repeat. Up until episode three, we had no reason to suspect Stone was describing himself, but when he visits Helen on the prosecution and suggests changing the charge from first degree murder to manslaughter to “get it off [her] desk,” you have to wonder. I’m not totally convinced he wanted to change the charge in order to take a guilty plea, but perhaps he thought if the charge was changed, it wouldn’t fall on her desk but to someone else, helping his chances of winning the case.

I’m still racking my brain to understand a handful of things:

Why is Naz’s father being photographed paparazzi-style? The news conference from the police department had yet to happen, so who is watching him and why?

Why has Freddie instantly taken a liking to Nasir? A part of me feels like maybe Freddie and the guy Nasir had words with before going into Andrea’s apartment are somehow connected.

The doctor Stone sees tells him to start taking his antihistamines, which Stone says knocks him out – how is this going to ruin Nasir’s case, assuming Stone gets it back? All I can think about is the lawyer in Adnan Syed’s case from Serial.

Why does one of the co-owners of the taxicab have a cut on his forehead? I’m not saying it’s suspicious, but I am saying that actor didn’t just accidentally have a cut on his forehead when they shot his scenes, it was put there. And, you know how cuts happen? Knives.

Why does the camera love that deer head so much? Why is it significant? Are there cameras in the eyes? Why was there blood on the deer’s eye when it was not in the same room as the crime?

New episodes of The Night Of air at 9pm ET Sundays on HBO; all past episodes are available on demand.

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