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The Night Of “Ordinary Death” 

The Night Of “Ordinary Death”
Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

If he wasn’t guilty before, he is now.

The final scene in “Ordinary Death” felt like the end of Naz as we knew him. There are lots of pieces of information about Naz’s past that are supposed to paint him as an unsavory character. But some high school fights and dealing Adderall just hasn’t done much to convince me that Naz has some sort of valid history of violence.

But what he’s doing now—that’s meaningful. It’s true that a lot of his actions while in Rikers Island are about survival. So I can give Naz a pass for a lot of it. But it has escalated to a place where Naz is unredeemable. His drug smuggling is necessary. His rampant drug use is concerning. Him almost beating someone to death in highly distressing. But it’s over now. Naz is an accessory to murder. If he’s innocent of Andrea’s murder and he is acquitted, all after he helped kill someone, is any part of it satisfying?

I don’t think any possible ending The Night Of will put us at ease.

Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO
Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

Naz isn’t just a criminal now (many times over), he’s also kind of an unlikeable jerk. The looks he gives Amir when Amir is on the stand confirming the extent of Naz’s drug dealing speaks volumes. At first it’s not clear what Naz is feeling, but when he shakes his head and almost laughs it’s clear that it’s disappointment. He expects utmost loyalty. It may very well be a symptom of his time in Rikers where loyalty is the only lifeline you have. Or this could have been how Naz has been all along. That, combined with how he instigates Petey’s murder—without a moment of hesitation—instead with eagerness, completes Naz’s fall from grace.

Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO
Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

“Ordinary Death” added some shading to Detective Box, who has been especially enigmatic throughout our story. I’ve had difficulty reading him, and I’m still not sure what we’re supposed to think about him. He just seems tired. And as we lose sympathy for Naz, it’s harder to get pleasure from things like Chandra dismantling Box’s reputation, calling him unprofessional, manipulative, and bad at his job. She’s not wrong. Plenty of relevant leads were ignored by the police. But Detective Box just wants out. When he’s called to a murder scene with similarities to Andrea’s murder, he’s too defeated to acknowledge it. He has to steel himself before attending his retirement party. He checks “ordinary death” on his beneficiary papers, because it’s all he can hope for at this point.

I have to applaud this episode for making me feel sorry for Detective Box. I don’t think it would have worked nearly as well if Naz wasn’t so frustrating, so although it’s late in the game for a rush of Box character development, it’s actually the best time.

I have one complaint about “Ordinary Death.” The kiss between Chandra and Naz was absurd and cheap. It didn’t add to the story, it’s didn’t serve an obvious narrative purpose, and it was out of character. If anything, Chandra shutting Naz down would have made infinitely more sense. Naz clearly has a difficult time with women, with the way he was so totally entranced by Andrea and his lack of sexual experience.

He’s been in jail, isolated from women, and Chandra is pretty and nice to him, so of course he wants her affection. Her turning him down would’ve highlighted Naz’s desperation. The one redeeming bit of this scene was Chandra covering the “SIN” tattoo on Naz’s hand, only to have him put his other hand on top, “BAD” tattoo on display (On a side note, Naz’s seriously got SINBAD tattooed on his hands? I know it’s a literary reference and lame play on the words “sin” and “bad,” but, come on, I’m only going to think of the ’90s comedian.) Chandra is working to erase the sins that have been put on Naz, only for him to undo her work, to be bad.

Chandra and John have done excellent work on Naz’s case, to the point where I will be more surprised if the verdict is guilty than not. But whatever the result is, the damage is done. Maybe Naz is Andrea’s killer. Maybe they’ll never find the actual guilty party. I’ve said it before—Naz’s life is already over. Safar and Salim have lost everything. The only glimpse of happiness we can hope for is from John and Chandra, for whom this has been an entirely different journey. They are the lucky ones.

The Night Of series finale airs Sunday, August 28th at 9/8c on HBO.

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