A Dark Crate
Minor Spoilers Ahead
Well, Naz’s life in prison is certainly heating up. Part 3 of HBO’s The Night Of was an often intense one, with a serious focus on what life is like for Naz as he finally gets settled in at Riker’s Island. We also got to see the light finally beginning to shine on Stone, with multiple superior forces making moves against him. It was a very engaging episode, even if it is was an unfortunate one for our main characters.
The episode started off with some gritty shots of Riker’s, then settled in with Naz as he’s processed into the facility. Soon after, we meet “The King of Queens,” Fred E. Knight (Michael K. Williams), or “Freddy,” a local boxing legend and apparent King of Prison. Once Naz finds his bunk (a nice conspicuous one in the middle of the dorm hall), he gets some friendly Riker’s survival advice from the inmate next to him, and is taken notice of by Freddy. He makes a few attempts to reach out to Naz, and once they finally meet, Naz learns a harsh truth of prison life.
Naz’s story throughout this episode is a haunting one, as each scene brings turn after turn of escalating tension. Naz is truly on his own once he reaches Riker’s Island. There’s no one here to defend him from the hardened thugs and criminals that populate the jail, and he’s accused of some truly heinous acts. As his life moves through this nightmare, I feel more and more empathy and fear for Naz, mostly thanks to Riz Ahmed’s stellar performance. Each new environment Naz enters, as he falls deeper and deeper into the U.S. judicial system, is more terrifying than the last.
Stone, meanwhile, had a deeply disparaging turn of events himself as he tracked down members of the defense to find out how strong their case was against Naz. On top of learning how open-and-shut it is (not that it really takes a lawyer to figure that one out), he’s humiliated time and time again throughout the episode. Be it his eczema, his appearance, his aptitude, whatever- Stone gets pushed down an awful lot in this episode, and Turtorro really does a great job at conveying this resilient, worn-out lawyer.
What’s difficult to tell about his character, however, is if he sees Naz’s case as simply a get-rich-quick play, an opportunity to finally make his name, or because he genuinely cares about seeing Naz freed. This episode was very well-designed as we saw all three of these motives appear throughout his scenes. With the introduction of rival attorney Alison Crowe (Glenne Headly), Stone’s motives are starting to become more clear. In the end, however, I think he’ll save the cat.
Even Mr. and Mrs. Khan (Peyman Moaadi and Poorna Jagannathan, respectively) have a hell of a time throughout this episode. For starters, Mr. Khan’s cab is still in police possession, and he’ll have to jump through some major hoops if he wants it back any time soon. Also, their experience with going to see Naz is a thoroughly uncomfortable one, full of invasive body searches and bureaucracy. Khan’s family may feel relegated to a side storyline, but their story is still as heartbreaking and tragic as any of the others.
Detective Box (Bill Camp) was barely in the episode, unfortunately, as his only screen time was spent critiquing the two arresting officers about the finer details in their arrest report, and poring over some photos of Naz. The first scene really only serves to hammer home the point about Box being good at his job, while the second scene may have Box doubting if Naz truly is capable of murder. It was a little disappointing to see almost nothing of Box, but I was okay with it as this episode was much more about Naz’s experience (and Stone’s eczema).
So far, The Night Of has only gotten better and better. We’re only three episodes in, but with only eight to get through, hopefully this series will keep up the momentum. I’m sure there’s still plenty to Andrea’s murder that has yet to be revealed, and Stone is bound to make a comeback. With Naz firmly planted in the hostile world of Riker’s Island, the rest of the series is situated to develop nicely.