The Night Of finale

As HBO’s The Night Of neared its end, it was anyone’s guess how things would turn out. Would Naz get to walk free? Would we find out what really happened that night? Would Stone’s eczema’s season-long arc finally pay off? Now that that finale has come and gone, we know the show managed to end in the most satisfyingly unsatisfying way possible. But Riz Ahmed reveals that wasn’t the only possible outcome. According to the actor, producers considered “a couple of possible endings” before deciding on the one we got.

Spoilers follow for The Night Of.

As we all saw last weekend, The Night Of ends not with a bang but with a shrug. Naz gets to go home, but because the jury couldn’t come to a consensus, not because they decided Naz was innocent. We never get a clear answer on who killed Andrea, although Box and Weiss finish the series with their eye on a new suspect, Andrea’s boyfriend / financial advisor Ray. On the one hand, it was a frustrating conclusion to a slow-burning mystery. On the other, it fit so perfectly with the show’s overall point that there are no neat and tidy endings in the criminal justice system.

However, Ahmed revealed in a chat with TheWrap that the producers weren’t always so certain about that ending:

There were a couple of possible endings and I won’t disclose what they were, but we went through a couple of different versions and I think the final pick was the best. It’s like this bittersweet ending, it’s the same but not quite the same for Naz. It was this bittersweet survival story.

The Night Of finale wasn’t perfect. For starters, it had Chandra, a character not previously established as being emotional or rash, make a series of bizarrely ill-advised decisions. But Naz’s story, I think, ended just about perfectly. An acquittal might have felt too optimistic, a conviction too pessimistic. A hung jury feels right in line with the murkiness and uncertainty of the rest of the series. And we see at the end that while Naz may have left prison behind, the experience has changed him permanently.

How exactly Naz will fare in his return to the real world isn’t clear, but don’t look to the show itself to offer any answers. Ahmed downplayed the possibility of a second season. “It was a grueling shoot so by the time we finished, we were ready to get some rest,” he told TheWrap. He’s been even blunter in previous interviews, telling Entertainment Weekly last week that he hasn’t even imagined the possibility of playing Naz again. “[T]o me, the piece feels complete. I think it’s come to a satisfactory conclusion,” he said. “But who knows?”

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