On Sunday's episode, Naz's transformation from meek college student to hardened (alleged) criminal became complete, when he became an accessory to murder by distracting the prison guards by requesting a new inhaler while Freddy (Michael K. Williams) slit the throat of the inmate we saw getting a blowjob from Petey (R.I.P.) in last week's episode. Which leaves us with one big question: What the hell just happened?
Of course, that wasn't the only big development this week. Petey (Aaron Moten) committed suicide, which directly precipitated Freddy's slaying of his fellow inmate, and Naz and Chandra (Amara Karan) crossed all kinds of ethical boundaries by making out - I guess she didn't find his good night call creepy.
Outside of the prison, Ray (Paulo Costanzo) reveals that Andrea's stepfather Don (Paul Sparks) has maxed out his credit cards, and during testimony in court, one witness states that Andrea's killing looks like a crime of passion committed by someone who knew her. Later, when John Stone (John Turturro) goes to interview Don at the gym where he works, Don presses a barbell into his chest and threatens Stone's son.
We also learn that Naz throwing that kid down the stairs wasn't the only incident of violence at his former school -- he also once threw a full Coke can at a classmate's face.
I'm now more dubious than ever that The Night Of is going to give us all the answers we're seeking in next week's finale. At this point, there are just too many loose ends to clean up -- and the drama at Rikers Island and elsewhere has overtaken the drama in the courtroom around the original case of Andrea's murder. But I hope I'm wrong.
Here are the other lingering questions we're left with after Episode 7:
1. Is a serial killer on the loose? Box (Bill Camp) and another detective find another dead body with wounds similar to those on Andrea's body. Could the same person have killed them both? And is that question what seems to be weighing so heavily on Box's mind for the remainder of the episode? Which brings us to...
2. What's going on with Det. Box? Every scene Box was in this week felt ominous to me. We see a close-up shot of him checking off the "ordinary death" box on his retirement forms, and at his send-off, he looked like he'd rather be anywhere else. Is he simply starting to doubt Naz's guilt, or is something else nagging at him?
3. What the hell is Chandra thinking? Maybe it's just me, but it felt incredibly out of character for Chandra to make out with her client when there's a guard sitting a few feet away. Is she playing Naz, in the hopes that he'll open up to her and confess to killing Andrea? Or is she legitimately falling for him?
4. Why did Box give Naz his inhaler back? Something we've wondered before, but which is posed again during the trial. Chandra gets Box to admit on the stand that he returned Naz's inhaler, and Box claims it was because Naz was "suffering" without it. But Chandra doesn't let up - she posits the theory that Box removed the inhaler from the crime scene, going against department protocol and his 30-plus years of experience working crime scenes, because it didn't jell with the "crazed killer" picture he was trying to paint.
5. Why didn't Box interview any other witnesses? Box is clearly blindsided on the witness stand when Chandra brings up Duane Reade and the hearse driver. Why are Chandra and Stone better detectives than the actual detectives working the case?
6. What about the missing knife? The investigator Stone hired to photograph the crime scene reveals at the trial that there's a missing knife from the set at Andrea's house. He also accounts for how Andrea's blood got on the knife that was found in Naz's pocket based on their game of pinfinger, and explains how remarkably easy it would be for an intruder to sneak into Andrea's apartment. Granted, this could all be totally irrelevant, as Helen (Jeannie Berlin) basically destroys him on cross-examination and implies that the knife probably just went missing in a totally innocuous way, but it's interesting information to file away regardless.
7. Is Stone going to keep the cat? Stone's Chinese miracle worker tells him that there's no magical powder to get rid of his asthma - the only cure is to get rid of his new feline friend. Something tells me this isn't going to happen.
8. Did Naz do it? I could see it going either way at this point. The larger question is whether we're going to know for sure by the end of the finale.
Other points of note:
-Round of applause for Amara Karan, who was the MVP of this episode as Chandra, who's incredibly poised in the courtroom and steps up to the challenge of cross-examining tough witnesses. Chandra loses points, however, for the fact that her motivation, at least in part, comes from a sexual attraction to Naz.
-Turturro's plaintive delivery of "I don't want to get rid of my cat," paired with the bobbing maneki-neko Stone later sees in a window, is perfect.
-That head-shake Naz gave to the classmate who testified about buying Adderall from him was pretty threatening, no?
The Night Of finale airs Sunday, Aug. 28 at 9/8c on HBO.