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The Ending Of The Night Of Explained

The Night Of begins with Pakistani-American college student Nasir "Naz" Khan in New York. Nasir is up for a bit of mischievousness, but his partying on the night of October 24, 2014 forever changes his life when a white woman, Andrea Cornish, enters the off-duty cab that he took from his father.

Andrea, who says she can't be alone on this night, gets Nasir out of his comfort zone by giving him drugs and taking him back to her place. At her expensive home, the couple takes more drugs and has sex. Later, Nasir wakes up in the kitchen. He walks upstairs to tell Andrea he needs to leave — only to find her lifeless body covered in blood and marked with stab wounds. Nasir flees the crime scene only to be arrested shortly after for the murder of Andrea.

Did Nasir kill Andrea, or did someone sneak in and murder her in the middle of the night? For eight episodes, that's exactly what the world is trying to figure out. Heavy spoilers for The Night Of ahead: after eight episodes, there's still mystery surrounding the ending.

This show gives viewers a glimpse into the justice system's process, for better or worse. It tries to eliminate ambiguity and create a narrative. Unfortunately, after eight episodes, we're left with no further indication of what really happened to Andrea Cornish or whether Naz is innocent. If anything, he enters jail innocent and leaves guilty because of what he did in prison, yet the perception of his arc changes depending on him being innocent or guilty. Here's the ending of The Night Of explained.

Is The Night Of based on a true story?

The Night Of isn't based on a true story; however, it's based on the first season of the 2008 British series Criminal Justice.

Show creator Steven Zaillian told The Wall Street Journal: "In the British series he's a white kid because most of the cabdrivers are white. Most of the cabdrivers in New York City are not... That one decision affected the whole show."

Making Nasir Muslim American helps explore how racial bias affects the criminal justice system in the United States. Although the audience will never know, it's interesting to wonder what would have happened if Nasir wasn't of Pakistani descent. Yes, a mountain of evidence was stacked against him, but would he have been prosecuted differently if his parents were, say, white? Although the main storyline behind The Night Of revolves around who killed Andrea, there are many underlying issues, with race playing a big role.

The cat's journey

Tensions run high in this series, but the journey of Andrea's cat offers a nice change of pace and some comic relief. Although not as important as other storylines — unless, of course, you believe the cat was a metaphor for Nasir, the key witness, or some other bizarre situation — fans might have missed or forgotten the final destination of the cat, who's the final character seen onscreen.

We first see Andrea's cat being put outside by her owner. Attorney John Stone discovers the cat when he investigates Andrea's home. John takes the cat to an animal shelter, only to return to claim the cat for himself. As a man who battles with asthma, allergies, and eczema, John attempts to adopt the cat out to other people and even returns the orange and white furball to the shelter.

In the closing scene of the series, an American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals commercial plays at John's apartment before he's seen leaving. Moments later, with all human characters offscreen, the enigmatic creature is shown walking around the apartment. John kept the cat (or adopted a similar one).

The effects of prison on Nasir Khan's psyche

Nasir Khan leaves prison as a completely different person than the one he was when he entered. While Naz has secrets and rage buried deep down, which is made known by his actions in prison and the revealed history of physically harming two people at a young age, he's portrayed as a harmless person at the start of the series.

Nasir is afraid of being harmed in prison and takes shelter behind Freddy Knight, a former boxer and an untouchable prisoner who appears to run Rikers Island. Nasir leaves with a criminal background, though he wasn't convicted of the crimes he committed in prison.

Nasir becomes an addict in prison. He puts a man in the ICU. He shaves his head, gets tattoos, and lifts weights. He smuggles drugs and also presumably recruits a new prisoner to smuggle drugs for Freddy. He even gets his lawyer to smuggle drugs for him, not to mention smuggles drugs in front of his lawyers. Perhaps worst of all, Nasir acts as a distraction while Freddy kills another prisoner.

As he gets closer to Freddy, he appears to like his life in prison more than his life outside. In prison, he has a sense of purpose, no longer shackled by his parents and society's rules, which is ironic because he's now behind bars.

Whether Naz did all these things as a way to survive prison or a darker side of him was always there, he's a different person after his time at Rikers.

John Stone's eczema battle

John Stone and Naz both have asthma. However, it's John who battles with eczema throughout the series, visiting countless doctors and starting endless treatments. John's condition isn't made any better when he adopts a cat.

As John's life appears to improve, mostly because he takes on a case that's out of his league, his eczema gets better. He trades in Crisco and saran-wrapped feet which are clad in sandals for dress shoes, which at one point in time was more implausible than exonerating Naz.

Unfortunately, he suffers a resurgence while preparing the closing arguments, arguably the most important moment of his career. Although John's closing arguments are strong and play a part in the split verdict, the last time we see him, he has an eczema-covered face, sitting at home and taking a phone call from one of his normal $250 clients. He helps free Naz and is presumably richer after the case, but he's back where he started — in more ways than one — when the show ends.

The stepfather's role

Don Taylor, Andrea's stepfather, at times appears to be her murderer. If he doesn't play a role in her death, then his role is simply to misdirect the storytelling of the show and add another element. He's also important for the sake of showing that Andrea isn't perfect, mentioning that she's a drug addict.

Most importantly, Don is seen arguing with financial advisor Ray Halle at the funeral. After more of the plot is revealed, it's made clear that Don is still around and reentered Andrea's life because he's trying to collect on Andrea's mother Evelyn's estate, as they were both given the $10 million home when she died. With Andrea gone, Evelyn's wealth belongs to Don.

Further layers are peeled back and it appears Don is attracted to older women with money. It's later made known that Don maxed out his credit cards and is on the verge of claiming bankruptcy for the third time. It's also revealed that Don applied for Andrea's trust fund the moment he was able to, which further makes him look like a suspect, although the series ends with a different person of interest in mind.

Chandra Kapoor's unprofessional mistake

Lawyer Chandra Kapoor kisses Naz in a meeting. If this act ends here, then it would be nothing more than an act of passion and Chandra finding love in a hopeless place. However, Freddy discovers the tape of them kissing and has it sent to John, who then tells Naz that it's grounds for a mistrial. John proceeds to show the video to the judge and this is where Chandra's credibility and professional career are destroyed.

Chandra's lead lawyer spot is stripped, and John takes over as lead attorney. Chandra meets with her boss, Alison Crowe, who tells her to clear out her desk after the trial.

At first glance, Chandra's unprofessional mistake is careless and out of character. However, it's important to remember that Chandra is a young lawyer who was originally only used by Alison as a prop. That said, she was brilliant as a courtroom lawyer, especially for someone with so little experience. Going completely against her character, she not only kisses Naz but proceeds to smuggle drugs into prison for him because he's going through withdrawal and needs to be at his best when he testifies.

By all means, this was a lapse in judgment for Chandra, but it also led to John's strong closing argument.

The final verdict

The final verdict is intriguing because the audience has been waiting for eight episodes to see if Naz is guilty, but it's also exasperating because district attorney Helen Weiss enters her closing statement knowing there's another possible suspect lurking free.

Although Helen states that no one else was in the house on the night of the murder, she's hesitant during her closing argument because of what detective Dennis Box told her before closing arguments: Ray Halle was following Andrea. Unlike Naz, Ray has a motive to kill her, as they were previously dating and seen fighting, which is likely why Andrea said she couldn't be alone in the first episode. Helen tells Box they have more on Naz, summing up the flaws of the justice system.

During John's statement, he mentions that Naz is the only person on trial and the prosecution didn't investigate any other suspects. He states that strangers are far less likely to commit these types of crimes, although Andrea and Nasir did come into contact with two strangers on the night of her death, with one of them having a history of using knives from the victim's home.

As for the final verdict, the jury is deadlocked: 6-6. The jurors are dismissed and Helen declines to prosecute further. Naz, although not acquitted, is free.

Did Nasir murder Andrea?

Nasir gives the most appropriate answer when responding during his trial: he doesn't know what happened. Unless someone comes forth, no one will ever truly know because of the ambiguity of the case — Nasir blacked out, and there aren't any known witnesses.

While the series ends with Box and Helen going after Ray, the show also makes a point of zoning in on Duane Reade and Trevor Williams on the night of, as Duane — who has a criminal history that involves the use of knives — stares at Naz and Andrea going inside the home. Although the evidence points to Nasir, said evidence is circumstantial and speculative at best. Nasir has a history of hurting people, although at a young age, and that rage reappears while he's in prison. But that has nothing to do with him possibly murdering Andrea. Naz also sold Adderall to fellow students, but, once again, that has nothing to do with Andrea.

If the prosecution team and Detective Box did their jobs better, they would have investigated Duane, Ray, and the hearse driver Mr. Day, as they also crossed Andrea and Nasir's path on the night of her murder. When a person's life is on the line, thoroughness can't be washed away.

The audience will never know from watching The Night Of if Naz killed Andrea... although he likely didn't. Unfortunately, Naz will never be the same, in large part due to the criminal justice system. His last scene finds him on the beach at the same spot he and Andrea went together.

Where The Night Of leaves off

A death similar to Andrea's occurs while Naz is in prison. Is there a copycat killer? Is the killer still on the loose? Is this scene inserted for the sole purpose of showing social injustice? The show never makes it clear.

After the events of the finale, Box and Helen team up to presumably take down Ray. Ray and Andrea were sleeping together, and he called Andrea on the night of the murder. There's footage of Ray and Andrea arguing on the night of her death, as well as footage placing him near her house around the time she was killed. He's also seen driving out of the city. The kicker: While he has a toll tag, he's using a cash lane. However, this is also circumstantial evidence, and the audience just got done watching that hand play out for an entire season with Nasir.

Despite many possible suspects, Helen shows a picture of Ray to Box and says she has a job for him. Fast forward to Box getting out of his car to pursue Ray. This, in all likelihood, indicates that Ray killed Andrea, although the audience will never truly know based on this season alone.

Does anyone really win The Night Of?

Unfortunately, the main characters don't progress, and we're still left with a murdered woman.

Sure, Nasir is a free man, but at what cost? He's addicted to drugs. His relationship with his parents is tarnished. People still believe he's a killer. He appears to be unhappier than he was when he was in prison. His parents are also presumably broke as a result of the trial.

John might be the biggest winner, as he presumably earned a large sum of money from the trial and has a new friend in his cat, but he's still taking low-rent cases and battling eczema.

Box is miserable in retirement. Although Ray is the new suspect, if this series has taught us anything, it's that there are no guarantees with the justice system.

Chandra likely lost all credibility and won't be able to work in law again. A worse fate could be in her future if a video of her drug-smuggling surfaces.

Everyone is left disillusioned, with many losing more than they bargained for at the start of the trial.