There's so much riding on Sunday's final episode of HBO's The Night Of. Within the fictional world of the show, the outcome of the trial will have financial and career ramifications for the characters, and in the perilous case of Nasir Khan, his very freedom hangs on the jury's decision. But HBO and the series' brain trust face a nerve-racking situation of their own: will they stick the landing or wipe out?
Prestige crime dramas centering on frantic, single-season attempts to solve mysteries -- True Detective, The Jinx, and The Killing come to mind -- face a harsher set of viewer expectations than shows in other genres. Even if the first seven episodes of an eight-episode series are nearly perfect, woe to the showrunner who doesn't tie things up in a satisfying way. But as the narrative progresses and new suspects, hypothetical scenarios, and red herrings are introduced, with the show barreling toward a conclusion, the number of potential outcomes fall away like flakes of skin peeling off attorney John Stone's eczema-afflicted feet. (Sorry.)