If you’ve yet to watch the first episode of HBO’s newest murder-mystery limited series The Night Of, stop reading now and go watch it!
I said it before the premiere and I’ll say it again, The Night Of will leave you a mess in the best way possible. I’m a little ashamed to say I’ve seen the first episode about four times, and each time I’ve noticed something new. Like many instantly passionate fans of the gripping new HBO drama, I have my own theories and explanations of who the killer is – if you thought you weren’t so into the first episode, allow me to enlighten you (or confuse you with more questions):
Ready for a hot sports opinion? Here goes: There’s no way Nasir killed Andrea.
Okay, so maybe that’s a little overstated. There’s definitely a possibility he is the killer. Heck, there are even some signs that might confirm it: How was a cop, who has probably seen plenty of bodies working in NYC, queasy at the sight of her mangled remains but Nasir was not? The fact that he clearly is not a drinker (he said so himself) or a drug-user and he mixed cocaine, tequila and Molly in a span of, like, an hour, causing him to black out doesn’t help his case either. But, the evidence for Nasir’s innocence is much stronger than the case against him (excluding the fact he appears to be the last person to see her alive and he did stab her in the hand).
Here’s the deal: Andrea’s body had a lot of stab wounds. There was blood everywhere… except on Nasir. If he killed her – Nay, brutally mangled and murdered her – he wouldn’t have just had a tiny bit of blood on his hand, he would have been smothered in it, his hair would’ve been matted from the splatter. But it wasn’t. The blood on his hands can be easily explained by the fact that he held her bloody hand after accidentally stabbing it, something he did refuse to do at first, though him giving in to do it could be a bad sign. He was almost completely clean and so were his clothes – if there had been a substantial amount of blood on his clothes, the cops would’ve noticed it instantly when they pulled him over.
Even before things got bloody, Andrea alluded to something bad happening that night. When she and Nasir were at the river, he mentions that night feeling different and she responds with “and you don’t know why,” which was more of a statement than a question. She asks him if he’s ever been somewhere something bad was happening and wished he was somewhere else, and proceeds to take drugs and tell him she can’t be alone tonight.
We can even go back to her getting in the cab, telling Nasir she doesn’t care what part of the river she goes to as long as it’s not downtown. After lingering for a minute, she tells him she’d really like to get going. In New York, it’s not uncommon to ask the cabbie to light a fire when you have somewhere specific to go and they’re on duty, but the fact that she’s asking for a ride from someone who said they are off-duty and she gives “the beach” as her directive makes it a little suspicious. Obviously, we need more information about where she was coming from to understand how she ended up in Nasir’s father’s cab with an interest in getting away from downtown.
Lastly, but certainly not least: when Nasir is frantically trying to leave the house, he doesn’t grab a blood-soaked knife from the bedroom, but, rather, a semi-bloody knife from the coffee table where they were playing finger roulette. If he had killed her, wouldn’t he have found the knife covered in blood in the bedroom by the body? Probably. I don’t imagine when you’re that far gone on an elevated cocktail you’re thinking clearly enough to mostly clean a knife and put it back where you found it.
Plus, when he got into it with Trevor, the passerby who threw some incredibly offensive remarks Naz’s way as he and Andrea entered the apartment, Naz stood up for himself but never lost his cool. I would expect someone with a killer’s instinct to instantly get violent or aggressive in some way in that situation.
My other concerns revolve mainly around things that will have to be answered as the investigation continues: Nasir is left handed, so was the killer left-handed?; Was the stabbing done with a serrated knife, as Detective Box described? Because the knife Naz took from the apartment (and stabbed Andrea’s hand with) was not serrated; What happened to Andrea’s father? She mentioned he was “okay” but she also said her Upper West Side brownstone a block from the park was just “okay”; What’s up with the mounted deer head? There were a ton of lingering shots of it and it’s featured in the opening credits, so it must be of some significance, right?
Yeah, sure, he’s been presented as a witness, but I hope we can agree that means nothing in the grand scheme of things. When the crime scene unit finished their medical check of Andrea, they pronounced her dead at 2:20am. We don’t know exactly when she died, but it was between 9pm and 2:20am (security cameras at the Midtown tunnel show him passing through from Queens at 9:17pm and they pronounced her dead at 2:20am). Let’s say it took Nasir an hour to finish his drive into downtown, Andrea to get in his cab, they stop for drinks, go to the river, and find their way to her apartment, that would put him there at about 10:30pm-ish (I’m rounding). They drink, have sex and he passes out – let’s tack on another 45 minutes to an hour for those shenanigans, so that puts us at about 11:30pm - 12am. If the CSU declares her dead at 2:20am, then we can assume the neighbor called the cops around 1:30am, give or take. I’m breaking down all those times to say, what was he doing awake at that hour? He was in his pajamas, yes, but he looked wide awake and was pretty quick to the window when he heard the glass break across the street – a pretty quiet noise that, honestly, wouldn’t wake anyone in NYC up. Plus, he has direct sight to her building, so it’s possible he could’ve seen her let the cat out and not shut the gate or the door all the way, an easy entrance and exit for anyone to make.
I think Trevor is just there as witness support and perhaps as a red herring. He’s loud and offensive, but he had no reason to get violent with Nasir after their confrontation was over. My thought is, if he didn’t get physical during their first meeting, then he probably wouldn’t have come back and killed Andrea over Nasir.
I feel pretty confident this guy is a red herring. He lingered a little too long after Nasir stood up for himself after his friend Trevor made an incredibly offensive remark about his race, and Trevor did lie and say he was alone when he saw Nasir. He’s a possibility, but I don’t see how he really could be connected beyond that one interaction.
I’m convinced he’s the killer about as much as I am convinced it’s Trevor’s friend. It’s too convenient, too obvious, right? Would this guy really follow and kill a girl for flicking a cigarette unintentionally at him at a gas station? Probably not. He made his point at the gas station and that’s that as far as I’m concerned.
I’m not convinced the brother is riding the pine during this investigation. I admit, bringing him up as a possible suspect is a bit of a stretch and would open the door to a ton of questions, but no one’s innocent in my eyes except Nasir’s parents. It seems Nasir and his brother are close to the same age, somewhere between 18 to 24. With that said, what 18-24 year old is doing homework or studying on a Friday (remember, we know this is a Friday because Nasir was at class, then tutoring the basketball player, who didn’t want to take his textbook home over the weekend). Assuming they are around the same age, why would he rat out his brother for not being home? He knew he was at a party downtown, and I don’t recall his parents giving him a curfew. When Hasan wakes his dad up, he isn’t frantically saying Nasir hasn’t come home yet, he doesn’t sound worried at all. In fact, he’s pretty calmly whispers to his half-awake father, “Where’s Naz,” which was definitely more of a statement than a question.
If that’s not enough to make him of interest, let’s jump forward to when Nasir’s mom and dad are frantically calling his friends, hospitals, police stations, and any where else they can think of; they’re both sitting at the table, hovering over the phone as though someone with information will call any second. Hasan is sitting off to himself with a rather blank look on his face – he’s not contributing any ideas or outwardly sharing his parent’s concern. Plus, several of the camera shots during this time have Hasan in focus, even though he has no dialogue, while his parents are talking on the phone with whichever emergency service they’ve called.
Admittedly, those three points aren’t strong enough to say Hasan is the killer and there are important questions with no visible answer connecting him to the murderer: how would he have known where Naz went? How would he have followed him? What was his motive for killing Andrea? But I do think there’s something fishy going on with him that’s a bigger part of the puzzle than just being Naz’s brother.
Of course, there’s also the strong possibility that we’ve yet to meet the killer. I’m not inclined to think that’s the case, but what do I know?