Search icon


01st Nov 2016

The Night Of is the show you need to see before everyone else does

HBO's new thriller is a tough murder mystery for modern times.

Rich Cooper

Drugs. Sex. Murder. One night and no memory. What the hell happened?

Naz is a good boy. He goes to college, he studies hard, he loves his family. He’s due to go to a party in New York, but his friend bails on him. A spur of the moment decision leads him to borrow his father’s taxi and drive down to the party anyway, but when an attractive young woman named Andrea jumps in the cab, Naz’s night changes course.

They drink, they take drugs, they go back to her place. They have sex. Then Naz wakes up downstairs and doesn’t remember how he got there. He goes up to say goodbye and finds Andrea lying brutally murdered in the bed they just had sex in. He panics, he runs, he gets caught.

The question: is Naz a good boy?


Riz Ahmed as Naz and John Turturro as John Stone in The Night Of.

This is The Night Of, an eight-episode crime thriller from HBO, the channel that brought us True Detective, Game of Thrones, The Wire and The Sopranos. It’s an adaptation of a 2008 BBC Show, Criminal Justice, moved to a post-9/11 New York City setting, focusing on a young Pakistani-American Nasir Khan (played by British actor Riz Ahmed) and his family.

The story follows Naz’s life at New York’s notorious Rikers Island jail as he awaits trial, his eczma-ridden lawyer John Stone (played by John Turturro) trying to get the story straight, and the prosecutors trying to send Naz away for life. The only person certain of his innocence is Naz himself, and the show forces us to doubt his confidence. Minor characters become major question marks, hidden details emerge, cases strengthen and weaken.

And all along, we not only don’t know if he did it, we don’t know if he knows if he did it.


Michael K. Williams as Freddy in The Night Of.

Gripping story aside, the best thing about The Night Of is Michael K. Williams, known to fans of The Wire as Omar. He plays Freddy, a fellow inmate at Rikers who weilds considerable influence over prisoners and guards alike. Michael K. Williams should be in every television show, film, play, everything.

Freddy is as affable as he is lethal, he opens doors and minds that no one thought possible in Rikers, and every second he’s on screen is enthralling. In fact, everyone brings their A-game, but it’s Williams that steals the show.

The Night Of is a bit of a slow-burn. There’s no cliffhanger endings or heart-racing moments of frenzied discovery, so if you want something that’ll put you on the edge of your seat, this ain’t it. What we have is a super-stylish, frequently-brutal and always-intriguing procedural drama that gives us a little to help us think, but not enough to help us decide.

Like Making a Murderer and podcast phenomenon Serial, you’ll want to be early to The Night Of. You’ll want to know what happened first. You might have heard a little buzz about it already, but trust us: the buzz is getting bigger. Strike while the iron’s hot. Be the early bird that catches the worm.

The Night Of is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

Catch up with the latest episode of Football Friday Live