The Night Of The Beach and Subtle Beast Review. The Night Of: Season 1, Episode 1 and 2: The Beach and Subtle Beast begins HBO’s latest offering in this limited series about the criminal justice system in America, particularly in New York City. The series was originally suppose to be James Gandolfini’s comeback to television after The Sopranos ended in 2007. After he passed away, the series would continue in his honor, with the late actor receiving credit as an executive producer. In this compelling drama, John Turturro fills in the role for Gandolfini as a lawyer who defends Naz Ahmed (Riz Ahmed), a Pakistani American accused in the murder of a girl he meets after an eventful night. The series explores how a single night can turn deadly and the flaws of our justice system. After watching the two-hour premiere, this miniseries marks HBO’s return to form in drama and it looks amazing.
In the pilot, we are introduced to college student Naz Khan, a man raised in Jackson Heights living with his immigrant parents. He gets invited from a friend to a party at the Lower East Side. After his plan falls through to get a ride, Naz ends up taking his father’s taxi without permission and drives into the city. A young woman named Andrea (Sofia Black D’Elia) gets into his cab and asks for a ride, which disrupts Naz’s plans and thus begins a fateful night which forms the crucifix of the story. After going to the beach with her, the two end up spending the night at her place. The evening takes a dark turn when Naz wakes up and finds Andrea’s dead body on the bed and panics. He leaves her place and tries to evade suspicion from the police, but he ends up getting arrested for the murder. He starts to see the treatment and incompetence of the justice system behind bars. His predicament also gets tested with his racial status and background.
Riz Ahmed brings in a whole range of emotions with his character as he experiences fear and hesitation in prison. Ahmed manages to make audiences sympathetic towards him, even though we don’t have the full story of what happened to him on that night. John Turturro takes over Gandolfini’s role as Jack Stone, a lawyer who represents Naz in his case. What viewers see is a lawyer clearly out of his league when it comes to this criminal case, but he recognizes Naz’s innocence in this and wants to prove the justice system wrong with his defense. Turturro’s character shows some unusual behavior, as he tends to be a little eccentric in this otherwise dark subject. Bill Camp shows some great charisma playing Detective Box, as he tries to get Naz to admit to the crime so he can end the case. Box and Ahmed’s faceoff in the cell is remarkable to watch as these two men play off each other.
The series makes great use of New York City at night. The Night Of really focuses on the smaller areas of the city and allows the audience to know exactly where the setting of a scene is taking place. The last part of the premiere shows mainly the police station and the Upper West Side apartment, two locations that may become essential to the series moving forward. It has a similar feel in quality television like The Wire as it shows the inner workings of the police and legal system in New York. Despite it’s slow pace in the first hour, things start to pick up in the second hour as we see what happens to Naz when he enters the police station.
The Night Of as a whole is a crime drama that fans will be interested in as television continues the trend of the limited format for crime and legal procedurals. The show doesn’t just focus on the murder case, but also on how the justice system is being perceived by the public. Finding the truth isn’t the whole point of the show, but it’s on the judgment of the legal system. Naz and Stone command the series in the first two hours of the premiere. The show has a slow burn with the story, but it is a fascinating piece of television to marvel at.
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