This article contains spoilers for all existing episodes of HBO's The Night Of.
In the opening minutes of "Ordinary Death," The Night Of's penultimate episode, Safar Khan, the mother of accused murderer Nasir Khan, exits the courtroom in the middle of a cross-examination. She's disturbed not only by the graphic images of victim Andrea Cornish shown by the prosecution but the idea that her son might be capable of having committed such a crime. As she bolts from her seat and the courtroom door shuts, the camera turns back to show the reactions of Naz, his attorney, the judge, and the jury members. Each face and gesture suggests a possible conclusion to the trial's examination of truth.
We've seen cases like Naz's in over 800-plus episodes of Law & Order, yet this summer, The Night Of stands apart as an engrossing, original, and pulse-pounding piece of procedural fiction. The reason is deceptively simple: the series, from Richard Price (writer on The Wire) and Steve Zaillian (Schindler's List, Moneyball), works on us two ways. There's what we see and what we don't, and both are heading toward an inevitable conclusion: did Naz do it?