HBO’s murder mystery limited series The Night Of wraps up its eight-episode run this weekend, and it heads into the finale with a handful of notable unanswered questions. What will happen to Naz as he gets deeper into the prison lifestyle and the trial zeroes in on a verdict? Will his defense team be able to pull a rabbit out of its hat to exonerate him? Why did the show do the feet thing? Why did the show do the feet thing?
But the most important question is the one the whole series is based on: Did Naz really kill young Andrea at some point during the night they met? And then that question leads to a pair of necessary follow-ups: If Naz didn’t kill her, then who did? And why? The show has gone to great lengths to give the audience a few other suspects, even as it toughened Naz up with the goal of making his innocence a question. Some suspects seem a little more likely than others, though, so what I’ve done here is rank the potential murderers from most to least likely to have done it, with a percentage assigned to each. This is science. You can tell because I used a calculator to triple-check that my percentages added up to 100. Please do not tell me if I still got it wrong. Just let me have it. I’m begging you.
Okay, let’s rank some murderers!
The Creepy morgue guy = 30 percent
Creepy Morgue Guy gets the top spot here more on account of being a creepy guy who works in a morgue than for any real reason backed by evidence. There is evidence, sure, kind of, in that he saw Naz and Andrea the night of the murder and made a bunch of weird violent-ish comments at the time and again later when talking to a lawyer he had known for all of five minutes. I can’t decide if that last part makes him more or less likely to have done it.
Like, on one hand, if you definitely murdered someone and were in the process of getting away with it, you’d probably try to play it a lot cooler than that when an officer of the court started poking around about it. (“Dead girl? Stabbed? Heck, I don’t even use knives to cut my food. Too dangerous. Forks, too, because of the points. Nope, all spoons for me. That’s why my friends call me Spoony Carl. Because of all the spoons. You can ask them about it when they get back from their cruise on… what day does the trial end again?”) But on the other hand, murdering someone and then being creepy when someone else stops by the morgue you work at to ask you about it is a pretty classic Creepy Morgue Guy move.
So it could go either way.
Some murderous mystery person or persons that we have not yet been introduced to, or maybe Andrea’s cat = 25 percent
It is taking all the power inside me not to put this at 100 percent and just scrap this whole thing. They’re going to do this, aren’t they? They’re going to spend almost 10 hours taking us on a winding adventure about murder and feet, introduce us to a number of people who seem likely to have done it (or at least had motive or opportunity), and then they’ll find out it was a random break-in, or an ex-boyfriend, or maybe Detective Box is going to take his new clubs to the driving range and hear the guy next to him say “Wow, I can’t believe I stabbed that girl so many times,” and bingo bango case closed. Ugh.
On the other hand, maybe the cat did it. Now, I hear you. How did the cat hold the knife? A fair question. But let me throw this at you: What if there were two cats and one duct-taped it to the other’s paws? Prove me wrong.
The elusive Duane Reade = 15 percent
Duane Reade looks guilty as hell because he’s a convicted felon with a history of knife things and his friend was terrified of telling the cops about him and he took off through the streets of New York like a European parkour teen to evade John Stone’s extremely preliminary line of questions. I just don’t know if he’s guilty of this. Because let’s be honest: If the show gives us a dramatic nighttime foot chase cliffhanger and then barely mentions it or the chasee over the following episodes, it’s going to be weird if they double back and be like, “Oh, his fingerprint was here all along. Whoops?”
But then again, Naz did get “sin” and “bad” tattooed on his hands (because Sinbad is his prison nickname, but still), which was pretttttty weird, so let’s say 15 percent here.
Naz = 10 percent
The show has really been pushing the “Ahhh, but what if Naz could have done it?” thing hard in the last few episodes, what with the drugs and head-shaving and jailhouse knuckle tats. Which, sure, fine. It’s been a bit of a crazy transition from him being a terrified little fawn who got charged with a murder he might be guilty of to him being a hardass accomplice to a prison murder he is definitely guilty of, but it’s a limited series with a limited number of minutes to tell a story, so whatever.
The bigger issues for me are 1) As much of a stone cold tough guy he is now, apparently, he still looked nothing like a violent criminal in the moments after the crime, and 2) This all feels like they’re pushing too hard on it, right? I don’t buy it.
Andrea’s shady stepdad who played Mickey Doyle on Boardwalk Empire = 10 percent
Well, he does have motive, as we learned from the financial advisor played by the annoying brother on Royal Pains (who also could have done it, I guess). And he did make violent threats to Stone at the bench press of the gym he works at. And he is a gold-digging personal trainer, which, based on my viewing of the entire original Law & Order catalogue, makes him statistically probable to commit at least one murder in the course of his life. But, I dunno. Does he seem smart enough to plan out a “Sit around and wait for Andrea to bring a guy home and do drugs and sex and knife things with him until they pass out, and then sneak in and murder the hell out of her while pinning it on the unsuspecting Romeo” caper? Bit of a stretch.
Andrea’s weasel drug dealer = 5 percent
This guy is my favorite character on the show because he always seems so, like, inconvenienced by having to answer questions about the drugs he sold to the girl who ended up murdered after doing the drugs he sold to her. He didn’t do it, probably, but if he did I guess it would have been because he was secretly in love with Andrea and showed up at her apartment that night and was so blinded by rage at the thought of her with Naz that he went stab crazy.
But even then, why not kill Naz, too? I vote not guilty.
Bodie or Omar from The Wire, both of whose characters almost definitely have other names = 4 percent
Unlikely at best, but I’m including it anyway just because I like the idea that Omar wanted a young, scared ball of clay he could mold into his number two so bad that he pulled a puppetmaster and set a chain of events in motion on the outside that resulted in Naz getting framed for a murder. Or the idea that Naz is Prison Neo and Omar is Morpheus, and this was all a plan to get him in Rikers for the revolution. Either will do. And I’m lumping him together with Bodie because, if this happened, I choose to believe they were in cahoots.
This guy I found when I searched a stock image site for “evil rich man” = 1 percent
I mean, look at him. I don’t see how we can rule this out.