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Notes on 'The Night Of,' Episode 2: 'Subtle Beast'

By Dustin Rowles | TV | July 17, 2016 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | July 17, 2016 |

HBO’s excellent new drama The Night Of (review here) continues with its second episode, “Subtle Beast,” which primarily took up the arraignment. From a procedural standpoint, it’s interesting to get a longer look at the process, from jail cell to an arraignment cell to Riker’s Island.

As far as our weekly ongoing investigation goes, we didn’t get too many additional clues about other suspects this week. Mostly, we have the same gut feeling that Detective Box purportedly has: Naz doesn’t seem the type. Realistically, the series may never take up the question of who actually killed Andrea Cornish. That’s a very Perry Mason approach, whereas in most murder trials, the defendant is not allowed to present other suspects, with limited exceptions (see, e.g., the trial of Steven Avery). Fans of The Practice may recall that trying to pin the murder on someone else was called it “Plan B,” which they only resorted to when they were desperate (as it was the sort of thing that could result in a mistrial and/or sanctions).

Indeed, the question is less likely to be “Who did it?” and more likely to be, “Did Nasir Khan do it or not?” As John Turturro’s character, Jack Stone, pointed out, the truth may be beside the point. The key for Nasir is to create the best narrative to combat the prosecution’s story. that narrative won’t become clear until we hear the prosecution’s story, although it seems fairly straightforward: Nasir was there. His prints are on the scene. They’ve got his blood on the scene. He ran from the scene, and he has what is possibly the murder weapon.

How does the defense rebut that? Maybe by saying that Naz had no motive, proving that the knife he had wasn’t the actual murder weapon, and perhaps proving that Naz didn’t have the ability to stab a woman that many times because he is asthmatic.

A couple of points from this episode to keep in mind:

— The deer head — which got a close-up again in this episode (it’s third in two episodes) is clearly important. Perhaps it has a camera in its eye?

— The inhaler will be important, if not as a piece of evidence in the murder trial. By accepting it, certainly Naz confirmed that the inhaler at the crime scene was his.

— As always, it’s a good idea to follow the money. Andrea’s closest living relative is her step-father. I don’t know how intestacy works in New York, but it’s possible that the house Andrea’s mother left to her could revert to her step-father in the event of her death. The step-father lives in Queens. Maybe he’s looking for a better apartment.

— No idea what this is, but it’s hilarious:

— Putting Naz in that shirt — knowing that it might make him a target among other inmates — was unnecessarily cruel. I thought Box was a decent man just doing his job until he did that.

— John Turturro is officially the frontrunner for a Best Actor Emmy next year, and that “subtle beast” line was incredible.

— On the Maxim magazine Naz’s mom found in his bedroom:

— The Islamaphobia is definitely going to be a factor.


Here’s are ongoing outline of the case.

Victim: Andrea Cornish

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Young woman. Early 20s. Spacey. Running from something or someone. Didn’t want to be alone. Cat owner. Likes to play knife games. Both parents deceased. Lived in her mom’s apartment. Has a history with drugs. Prostitution is possible. Closing living relative is her step-father, who lives in Queens.

Suspect #1: Nasir ‘Naz’ Khan

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— He’s smart. He knows what Stokes’ theorem is, and even after looking it up and trying to make sense of it, I am left clueless. He also tutors basketball players at his college.

— Although he takes drugs on the night Andrea is murdered, he’s clearly inexperienced. She’s also only the second person he’s had sex with.

— No criminal record. No history of violence.


— He took his father’s cab without permission to attend a popular party.

— He went back to a woman’s house after having only just met her.

— When he’s picked up, he is drunk and high.

— Highly susceptible.

The three elements of a crime, typically, can be summarized by means, motive, and opportunity.


He had a knife. He was in the apartment. He was capable of the murder.


Opportunity can be eliminated by a good alibi. Nas has no alibi. He was in Andrea’s apartment when she was murdered.


None whatsoever.


— Police officers saw him riding around in the cab earlier in the night, looking for directions to the party.

— He’s seen with Andrea by a man who appeared to be driving a hearse at a gas station. He’s also caught on security footage at the convenient store.

— Her blood is on him from the knife game.

— There is DNA evidence that the two had sex. The two also had rough sex, as evidences by the scratch marks on his back.

— He was caught in possession of what appears to be the murder weapon.

— He ran from the scene.

— He was spotted by a witness breaking into Andrea’s apartment and running from the scene of the crime.

— Someone on a motorcycle spotted him in the cab near the scene of the crime.

— Police picked him up near the scene of the crime for suspicion of DUI.

— He asks, “Is she dead?” without supposedly knowing anything about the victim.

— He tried to escape police custody when they suggested he killed Andrea.

Suspect #2: This Guy

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Spotted Naz walking into the apartment with Andrea. Gave an extra long glance. Wasn’t mentioned by his friend Trevor to police when he offered eye-witness testimony of Nas walking into Andrea’s apartment. Trevor and this guy apparently do not live in the neighborhood, so why were they there, and why did Trevor return to the scene after the murder?

Suspect #3: The Step Father

He’s shifty, and he may benefit from Andrea’s death if her apartment reverts to him.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.