Posted on Tuesday, August 30th, 2016 by Angie Han
If it’s possible for something to be unsatisfying in a satisfying way, HBO’s The Night Of nailed it. Even as Naz’s trial came to an end in this week’s season finale, plenty of questions remained maddeningly unresolved. Which suits the show, since the whole point of The Night Of was that there are no tidy conclusions in the criminal justice system, and that the truth is often beside the point.
But it doesn’t change the fact that we want answers. What did Naz really do? What is Naz really capable of? Star Riz Ahmed has fielded those questions quite a few times since the episode aired Monday, and you can read his responses below. Spoilers ahead for The Night Of.
To back up a bit: in Sunday’s episode, Naz crumbled on the witness stand under cross-examination and admitted he didn’t know if he’d killed Andrea. Still, his trial ended in a hung jury, and prosecutor Weiss declined to pursue the case further, so Naz was let out of Rikers to return home. Meanwhile, Weiss and Detective Box made plans to chase down another new suspect, Andrea’s boyfriend / financial advisor Ray. But the show ends before we get a clear, definitive answer to the question of who killed Andrea.
Speaking to Variety, Ahmed said that the show “gives a strong indication” about whether Naz did it, but stopped short of confirming either way:
I don’t want to comment on that too much. Because I certainly feel that the series gives a strong indication. I’ll leave it to people to interpret it for themselves. It may be telling in and of itself in that I’ve seen the whole series and I think there’s a strong indication to guilt or innocence, and if someone else feels that it’s ambiguous, that’s really interesting. That means the series and the characters have made enough of an impression that led people to think that way. It’s a good sign.
Ahmed was even vaguer when he spoke with Entertainment Weekly:
You know, I’m not going to answer that question directly. I think one of the themes of the show is that we all have it in us to be anyone. We all carry the same seeds within us, give or take. And in the right or wrong circumstances, depending on how you’re looking at it, we can adapt to survive. So does Naz have it in him to be a killer?
… [W]e see in the end that he’s an accessory to a murder in Rikers. Does that mean that he is a killer? And does that mean he is guilty? Something I love about the show’s writing is that it doesn’t essentialize characters — nobody is essentially good or essentially bad. In the right or wrong circumstances, anything is possible.
Ahmed’s responses are thoughtful, but don’t do much to clear up the murkiness surrounding that finale. Which may be just as well. The debate over what really happened is kind of frustrating (because there’s no clear answer) but it’s also kind of fun. At the point the series ends, Ray seems like the obvious suspect, but then again, so did Naz to the cops and the prosecution at one point.
Or maybe the real reason we haven’t hit on a solution yet is that we just haven’t been asking the right questions. During a post-show Twitter Q&A Ahmed gave a thumbs up to one theory about Andrea’s real killer:
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— Riz Ahmed (@rizmc) August 29, 2016