Sunday night (July 10), HBO premieres the new eight-part mini-series, “The Night Of” and for anyone still holding a candle for “True Detective” or “The Wire,” this may be the show for you. Continuing the recent trend that finds dark and edgy limited series at the forefront of good TV these days, the tale unfolds as Nasir “Nas” Khan (Riz Ahmed) finds himself in a wrong place/wrong time scenario of epic proportions.
Look, we’ve all been there. Out on the town in the taxi cab we stole from our sleeping father, simply trying to find the party we were invited to. Following Khan around town, it’s quickly evident that living as a Pakistani-American in post 9/11 New York has its challenges. And while race definitely plays its part in the 90-minute pilot — and the whole series, we’re assuming — what plays a bigger part is the anxiety of poor young Mr. Khan’s whole predicament.
Giving a little insight into his life, it’s a quick assertion that he’s not the most popular guy at school. A tutor to athletes who suffers from asthma has no place getting lost in a stolen cab late at night. And that is exactly why it’s alluring and daunting to watch him get seduced by the tragic and beautiful Andrea (Sofia Black-D’Elia).
Obviously, Nas never made it to that party. More-over, he’s not the brightest when it comes to thinking practically in these sorts of scenarios. Still, if you were in his position, you’d have driven her to the river too … admit it. But then, she offers pills. And then there’s shots of alcohol back at her place.
When the knife play starts, our anxiety kicked in as we became plainly aware at how crowded the place has become with Nasir’s DNA. There are certain red flags that arise in risky situations like these. Drugs and alcohol be damned, we would’ve hoped Nas would recognize them when Andrea seemed turned on from being stabbed in the hand. If anything, this was a whole bunch of tense foreshadowing that made us go for a brief walk to cool off.
Watching the whole mess unfold — from his realization she was dead, to his attempt at escaping the whole scene — was equal parts engrossing and frustrating. It’s possible we yelled at the TV a few times in panic. While the audience is led to believe Nas may be innocent, the real crux here is the nature of his survival through this whole thing.
If “The Night Of” is a peek into the realistic goings on of how our criminal justice system works, we’re sure the remaining seven episodes will invoke all sorts of emotions. By the look Jack Stone’s (John Turturro) face — the prosecutor who jumps at helping Nas — it seems there’s a deep dark journey ahead of them. We may just need a Xanax to get through it all in one piece.
“The Night Of” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.