If you spend a lot of time watching old detective shows and movies, you should love the look and feel of this series.
While watching The Night Of Season 1 Episode 1, it might have been helpful to have not only a notepad and pencil around to jot down pertinent facts about the case (and the many mistakes the police made), but one of those old Styrofoam bricks to toss at the screen, as it could be a lesson in frustration.
Without even knowing The Night Of is a murder mystery, from the very first scene you could feel the life of poor Naz start to spiral out of control.
Haven't we all been Naz in some way or another? Maybe not in college hoping to be accepted or discovering a dead body after an otherwise magical night, but trying to fit in, going with the flow and only feeling uncomfortable, left with nothing but backwash.
Everything that goes wrong to Naz on the premiere could be happening on a wacky comedy.
He is both extremely lucky and unlucky at the same time. For every bad move he makes, he appears to get a break, and then trouble rains down again. There are so many near misses with freedom along the way to his entrapment in this nightmare of his own making, it almost makes you sick to watch.
And it's not just mistakes that Naz makes, but those that law enforcement make along the way, as well. One thing after another, little snowflakes gather into a life crushing avalanche that sweeps over Naz (and the girl, certainly) before the night is over.
Were you watching with tense shoulders, wondering if your luck would be the same under the circumstances? Were you aghast at the choices Naz made and even more so at the bumbling police on the scene of a murder?
What the heck, let's talk some details.
As The Night Of started, all Naz really wanted to do was go to a party with his friend thrown by the cool guys. When his friend reneged, Naz made the unwise and yet somewhat courageous decision to go alone.
Of course, taking his father's cab without permission, not understanding how to use it or even how to get to the party, well, they were all part of the stupidity of making unwise, seemingly courageous decisions to change things up a bit.
When the cops stopped to help Naz as he had trouble with the cab light, we saw how helpful they can be. They were kind, no questions asked. You have to wonder if that experience paved the way for Naz's behavior with cops later through the night.
It didn't take but a minute for the girl to jump into the cab, and this was a passenger Naz couldn't resist. She was off, though. Wanting to go to the beach led me to believe she wanted to kill herself, especially when she settled for a river. Naz didn't question her. He was in awe.
Along the way, they left their mark everywhere they went. I'm not sure what role race will play in this case, but choosing a Pakistani-American as the suspect allows us to view the subject differently than usual. It's often said that only whites can be racist, but The Night Of might give us an opportunity to explore the experience from the perspective of other races living in the United States of America.
A sober young man (literally), Naz was easily persuaded to take an unknown pill and drive with the girl. She lived somewhere that practically made his head spin it's so nice. For a girl to give herself so freely to a stranger without even sharing her name, it will be interesting to see how she got there.
One thing was certain. The girl (who we only later learn is Andrea) liked to live on the edge. Playing the knife game turned bloody after one round and two shots of tequila. That was, essentially, the last thing Naz remembered.
While his clothes were beside her bed when he awoke in the kitchen, he had no blood on himself until he returned to the house after forgetting his keys and picked up the knife, taking it and the cocaine vial with him after breaking in, neighbor watching, in a futile attempt to erase himself from the scene.
It was in that moment that his innocence of the world became apparent. Sure, he had a cell phone, but he was Muslim college-aged boy living with his family in Queens. His decisions over the last several hours proved he didn't watch much TV, was well loved and protected from the outside world. And it would probably cost him.
When he was pulled over by the Keystone Cops, I knew it was too good to be true when the one partner kept trying to get the other to just let him go. Naz learning he would have to leave his cab was the closest he got to being ornery in all discussions with the police. Disappointing his father obviously comes before all other concerns.
As soon as the cops were told at the break-in the suspect fled in a cab, I thought for sure they would think twice about the man they had in their car, but as time went on, he became more and more invisible.
Naz watched everything, heard everything, including all radio chatter. So when he was riding back to the station and asked if "she" was dead, I facepalmed my forehead, but knew a good attorney could easily spin that given the many snafus.
Everything at the station went as expected. Naz was largely ignored. He almost made it out the front door, but Det. Box arrived with the witness from the street and suddenly everything happened at once.
In an instant, Naz was being searched, the neighbor was saying the suspect fled in HIS cab not A cab and the witness pointed to Naz. That's him!
Of course, Naz did everything requested without much protest. When an attorney saw him sitting there alone and the opportunity to make a quick dime, he wondered why Naz didn't protest or even request an attorney.
It seemed to come down to Naz being an American, trusting in the system and wanting to do what's right. Probably not just for himself, but for his family. Hearing that as a viewer was really painful, but to Jack (a brilliant John Turturro) annoying, as well.
Jack had hoped to get Naz out on bail, but when he learned Det. Box was on the case, he settled for a phone call, one Naz made to his family, who were extremely worried.
When they hung up the phone, Naz's father raced out of the house, not to jail, though, but to find his cab, which was gone.
That last scene made me think Naz's family thought the charges of murder against Naz would stick about as much as Naz did. But, although Naz is claiming innocence and there was an absence of blood evidence on him, he really doesn't remember anything.
As frustrating as it was listening to Det. Box speaking down (albeit calmly and kindly) to Naz in his attempt to get him to break, to tell the "truth" as he wanted it to be and not as Naz knew it, Box was probably right.
Judges and juries like the easy route. They probably don't like it when someone says they don't remember anymore than the cops do. It's hard to believe. Until you're the one who has their life, their integrity, their future riding on that line.
I have a feeling Riz Ahmed is really going to wow us as Naz as the mini-series progresses. What he's done so far has been remarkable, and as Naz struggles to recall what is sure to have been a traumatic event through a drug addled haze, he'll surely shine.
That was a lot of recap, and that's not really my thing, but because of the complexity of the case and what's to come, I thought it might be helpful for us to lay it out there. Did you see the same things I did? Were there times that stuck out to you that you think will help or hurt Naz going forward?
Do you think you have the lynch pin in the case already? And if you've seen the British version, don't weigh in. I don't want to know the end. If I did, I'd watch it. Call me Cari Mason, Grandniece to Perry. Who doesn't love a good mystery, right?
And with so many moving parts and mistakes on the part of the police, it seems to me there are things that can be used in defense of Naz, if only someone shares those details with Jack.
What did you think? Drop us a note and weigh in on The Night Of!!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.