This The Night Of review contains spoilers.
Part 6 of The Night Of, “Samson and Delilah,” introduces reasonable doubt at the same time as it raises unreasonable suspicions. On the one hand, the investigation is digging up suspects who are far more ambiguous and, on the other hand, well, Naz (Riz Ahmed) got a jailhouse tattoo on the other hand, and that just doesn’t play with juries, but more on that later.
The most distressing chink in the armor of Naz’s defense is the way his own past will play out in a prosecutor’s hands and how easily he is adapting to privileged life in stir. He also seems to be a natural liar, driving his own legal team to distraction.
That good boy sticky note is losing all its adhesion. First the prosecutor Helen Weiss (Jeannie Berlin) and the defense learn that Naz was dabbling in collegiate pick-me-up study aides, now we find that it wasn’t Freddy (Michael Kenneth Williams) who first tapped the seemingly innocent Muslim’s violent nature. Naz admits to a certain disregard for the victim, because he was just one in a long series of taunts and the push down the stair was so easy, it felt like nothing at all. It is almost excusable and not quite damnable. We get it and can file it away with the jury but it eats at reasonable doubt.
Naz’s parents have no doubts, regardless of what they pack the convict to war for court. The family is doing whatever they can bear for cash. Naz’s mother (Poorna Jagannathan) is cleaning apartments and the father is delivering Chinese food. The shit gets weird when he has to drop off wonton soup at his son’s lawyer’s place and he pulls an embarrassed Houdini.
“Samson and Delilah” preaches that, whichever life Naz is forced to live, it’s all about family. Freddy adds another body to his count, getting charged again just to be close to his wife and kids. New charges mean a new trial and a trial is an easier commute than north of Clinton where it took his family seven hours on the greyhound bus.
Naz earns a good cell phone. This is an investment in his future on the part of Freddy. He promises to make a proper convict of Naz yet and the prison’s fresh meat is beginning to look the part. Naz gets the Sin tattoo just below his knuckles. He’s got an appointment for a sitting to get Bad inked in if he gets convicted.
But Freddy is looking out for the kid. He is trying his best to help hedge the bets on the jury pool. Freddy gives Naz a nice shirt, one that will play well in courtroom. Certainly much better than any shirt Naz’s parents will pick out for him, that’s for sure. He’s proven right, of course. John Stone (John Torturro) strips in the middle of court to hand over his own bright shirt in the darkened court room.
The courtroom is too dark, noir series or not. The judge has to know where to smack that gavel. Though I almost got up when the bailiff called all rise. That lady cop made up her mind and is sticking with it regardless of what she witnessed. There’s no way he smelled like a bong in a tequila factory when she pulled him over but she sticks to that.
Stone gets his foot relief in time for court. It looks like it’s been so long since he’s worn shoes that he keeps them in storage. Andrea Cornish’s stepfather Don Taylor (Paul Starks) is looking guiltier and guiltier with his over my dead body considerations of Evelyn Cornish probate and all the property that went with it.
Meanwhile, the lead investigator is searching social media for clues. He finds a not from Amir, saying he owes Naz “bit time bro,” and is sure he’s not talking about cripping notes in pre-calc. It’s not like Naz hasn’t got a chance at acquittal. He’s got one in 5 billion.
Stone and Chandra (Amara Karan) finally bond over the after-court drinks. The young lawyer who has been losing her innocence decides to drown its cost in relationships. Stone is at first surprised when he thinks she’s tossing one too many taboos into her curriculum, but the young Hindu corrects him. “That’s Muslims, I’ll drink anything.” Then she goes too far and tells a joke and has to be cut off. This is a very telling scene for both characters. Stone broadcasts his desire. Chandra projects an inebriated professionalism. She breaks down the law from large debate to its most base element. A jury might want a little bit more in the way of detail, but we see her process at work.
A natural investigator, Chandra “Holmes” gets busy with the license plate screensaver and uncovers a missing lock of evidence. The funeral parlor guy is creepy for even a funeral parlor guy. Bible-quoting corpse manicurists instill their own kind of fear. That sloppy nail job is even a little reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs, with a touch of The X-Files thrown in for good measure.
He explains to Chandra that sometimes when you see a predatory woman playing a man like a cat plays with a ball of yarn, you have to strike first. He read it in the Bible, in Judge’s 16. After the hypnotic Delilah puts the heroic Samson “to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. 22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.”
If there wasn’t a case for reasonable doubt before, there certainly is now. All they have to do is put him on the stand and ask him anything.
“The Season of the Witch” was written by Richard Price and directed by Zaillian.