Minihane & Mutnansky get off the sports page for a few minutes to disucss the Mut audition week that has begun for the morning show gig, as well as producer Ken's Sunday Red Sox Review show.

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Kirk Minihane and Mike Mutnansky open the show talking Red Sox, including about team owner John Henry's comments to the Herald about manager John Farrell
Patriots QB Jimmy G makes his weekly appearance with D&C on 'Patriots Monday' live from Gillette Stadium with Kirk Minihane and Mike Mutnansky on site.

Detective Box is having second thoughts about just about everything. (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

Detective Box is having second thoughts about just about everything. (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

It took seven episodes, but we have finally reached our most procedural chapter in “The Night Of.” “Ordinary Death” gave us everything we’ve been clamoring for: examination of the evidence, revisiting our list of suspects, and a look at the true nature of our principal characters. Next week’s finale, “The Call of the Wild,” will be an extended episode that should give us plenty to chew on.  

“Ordinary Death” delivered big time by serving not only as a gripping hour of television furthering the penultimate-episode-is-the-best-episode trend, but as a great review of the important parts of the show we’ve been obsessing about this summer.

Heading into Episode 7:

  • Where does Det. Box stand on the case? Does he actually think Naz did it?
  • Is stepdad Don Taylor the prime suspect? If Stone and Chandra were the prosecution would they be going after him?
  • Is Naz going to continue to unravel in prison?  
  • Are we going to get some clues or what?

“Ordinary Death” dealt with the repercussions of the murder for all of our characters in “The Night Of” — one of the “real questions” posed in this limited series. How everyone other than Naz is processing the fallout from Andrea Cornish’s murder has been used only as scene painting until this point. As the focus of the penultimate episode, we learned — as suspected — it is not good. For anyone.

Understandably, Naz’s parents are feeling it the most. Naz’s father is being hamstrung by his former business partners into selling his share of the taxi medallion for a fraction of its worth, his mother is questioning if somehow she was to blame for raising Naz into someone who could have committed such a heinous crime, they both are being forced to sell anything of value to pay just to survive and the greater Muslim community of New York being victimized as the case gains more notoriety. As the case has drawn on and those closest to him have taken on more and more of the burden, Naz is becoming more and more myopic in his actions. Obviously, the case is having a profound effect on him, but it is almost as if he is sitting through court as a formality and waiting to get back to his life at Rikers. Is that kind of acceptance of the situation and realization of his true nature the whole point of the series?  

Since his transformation began, collectively we’ve been hoping and praying it was just a defense mechanism, but we’re starting to understand who Naz truly is and what exactly he is capable of.  The revelation that he sent not one but two kids to the hospital and was regularly selling Adderall to classmates was shocking.  Not the actions themselves — we’ve already seen and dissected how Naz deals with stress — but his reactions to these things being brought up in court in front of his defense team, his parents, and the jury. He sat in unflinching silence staring stone-faced at whomever was on the witness stand, not ashamed, not angry, not even surprised that these new details were being brought up. He looked at his former basketball coach, the medical examiner, and his friend/client, in the same way a predator looks at its prey. Who is this guy, and why am I still asking this question with only one episode left to go?  

Regardless of Naz’s actions being brought to light, both Chandra and Stone are still at it trying to drum up as much plausible deniability as possible. Presumably, their key witness, the hilariously named Dr. Katz (THE CAT THEORY LIVES) gave the audience what we’ve been waiting for for two months: explanations for every single piece of evidence we’ve seen. Through his testimony, we learned that the knife that killed Andrea is not necessarily the knife that they have in evidence. We learned that breaking into Andrea’s house on the night in question would have been easy to do — the lock on the gate is broken, the basement door was unlocked, and the scalable tree outside in front of her house lead directly to her open bedroom window. We also learned that if someone did break into her house through either the window or the basement door, they wouldn’t have necessarily seen Naz passed out in the kitchen or the kitchen itself. None of this testimony exonerates Naz, but it does — no pun intended — hold the door open for a shadow of a doubt to creep in.  

The final sequence of “Ordinary Death,” a chilling juxtaposition of both Naz’s and Det. Box’s acceptance of the next phase of their respective lives, put a bow on the gift that has been this show.  After finding out that Petey — the son of Freddy’s drug mule — has committed suicide, Naz comes clean to Freddy about what had been going on between him and Victor. Brilliantly edited against Det. Box’s retirement party, we see Freddy and Naz run a misdirection that allows Freddy to murder Victor in cold blood in plain view while at the same time Det. Box is reconsidering the events of the case and his retirement. Naz — really putting his myopic vision superpowers to good use — has now eliminated any buffer between himself and the most ruthless man in Rikers.  There is no one else for Freddy to lean on now, and I have a hard time believing that even if proven innocent, he will let Naz leave prison easily if at all. He’s in too deep. The same can be said for Det. Box; while we all assumed he was going to play a much bigger role in this series, the doubt he has about the events surrounding Andrea’s murder is casting a pretty big shadow of its own.  

The Notepad

The Red Herring Checklist – SUSPECTS

  • Duane Reed: In the wind and being joked about in court. If we do see him again, I doubt it’s in the back of a squad car.
  • Mr. Day: The looming specter of death is here, but he isn’t the culprit.
  • Scumbag waiter/dealer: Man this dude is twitchy, but it’s doubtful he did it.  

The Red Herring Checklist – EVIDENCE

  • Broken back gate: Theory confirmed; the gate was open.
  • Unlocked basement door: Theory confirmed; the door was open.
  • Multiple ways to get into the house: Naz doesn’t necessarily need to have done it because, in theory, he’s not the only person with access.
  • The murder weapon might not be the murder weapon: The knife in evidence isn’t necessarily the knife that was used; one of the set was missing, even though there are a million reasons why it is missing.  
  • Shout out to Dr. Katz, the best character on this show by far. “If The Night Of” turns from limited series to anthology series, I hope he is the through-line character. I could watch him discuss his crime scene analysis for at least eight hours.


  • The Cat Theory: The cat as a stand in for the truth holds true. As John Stone has redeemed himself, he has become more and more accepting of the cat. At the beginning of the series, he didn’t care about the truth; he cared about what the defense could prove. This is no longer the case – Stone is now a cat owner and a truth seeker. Not as fun as the time traveling cat version of this theory, but it’s poetic as hell.
  • The Motive Theory: Don Taylor is the only person with motive for killing Andrea, but he is the least likely to have done it according to his M.O. He’s a bankruptcy claiming, white collar, grey lady chasing kind of creep; not a knife wielding psychopath kind of creep. Even though the motive makes sense, it is only in a “Law and Order: SVU” kind of way.
  • Occam’s Razor: To summarize, when there are many options, the simplest answer is the truth. At this point, Naz is still the person closest to the murder scene and the only known person to be in the house at the time of the murder. I doubt he did it, but who else could have?  What other options to the jury have to consider?  
  • The Padraic O’Connor TV Sleuther Theory: We are not going to see who actually killed Andrea Cornish. We may “see him/her” but they aren’t getting hauled in. This show isn’t about a murder; it’s about what happens after.
Blog Author: 
Padraic O'Connor

Does the whodunnit of "The Night Of" matter? (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

Does the whodunnit of “The Night Of” matter? (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

“The Night Of” is not what I thought it was going to be.  After seeing the trailers for the series during the most recent season of “Game of Thrones” and doing some digging into the IMBD pages of show creators Steve Zaillian and Richard Price, I thought I had come up with a pretty decent composite sketch of what to expect: a tragic event and the solving of a mystery — pretty formulaic whodunnit procedural TV performed at the highest level because it’s not TV… It’s HBO.  

Over the weeks and episodes since “The Night Of” premiered, this show has evolved into something much more than I expected, or rather revealed itself to be something more than I expected. It’s a show about a murder, but not really; we have not revisited the murder since we discovered the body. It’s a show about proving the prime suspect is guilty of a crime, but not really; we haven’t watched any character discover new evidence or piece together the chain of events that would lead us to a conclusion. It’s a show about a character persevering against unbelievable odds, but not really; Naz is morphing from the caterpillar we hope doesn’t get squished to the sinister moth from “Silence of the Lambs.” 

With only two episodes left in this limited series, we may not get all the threads tied up into the bow we’ve come to expect from crime drama, and that just might be fine. We’ve known since the first episode what the show could have been; it was either going to be the Case Against Nasir Khan, the Redemption of John Stone, or the Murder of Andrea Cornish. We checked all of those boxes in first 75 minutes. What has happened since is something completely different, and in the 2016 TV landscape, that in itself is more refreshing than if somehow Detective Box cracked the case on his last day before retirement.  We’re venturing beyond troupe right now and I’m fine with it.  So sure — “The Night Of” both is and isn’t well-executed crime fiction drama. Ultimately there is a gift somewhere buried underneath the mountains of pretty, genre-pushing wrapping paper and the fun part of getting any type of present is in the unwrapping.  

I haven’t had as much fun dissecting lead from red herring since “LOST” hit its apex in 2006.  There were a lot of red herrings in “LOST” — arguably too many — and for all the sleight-of-hand TV tricks showrunners Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse played on the audience, they ultimately answered the questions the audience should have been asking all along. In that way alone, “The Night Of” and “LOST” are on the same page. The answers we will get in the penultimate and super-sized final episode will be focusing their attentions solely on the question we should have been asking and why we should have been asking them.

In my first recap of this series, I posed the question, “Guaranteed all the clues we need to solve this mystery have already been shown to us. Did you see them?” The answer is, “yes, we did,” although we’re still sorting out what exactly we saw and their order of importance. In last few episodes, we’ve revisited two of the leading “suspects” and in both instances they’re produced way more smoke than fire — the quiet “friend” from the sidewalk — revealed to be the comically named Duane Reed (not the pharmacy), and the angel of death driving a hearse, Mr. Day. While both threads seem to still be dangling out there as possibilities, I think both have served their intended purposes; Duane Reed was the character we spent the least amount of time with and due to the lack of clues, seemed like he could be the missing piece to the puzzle. I’m just an amateur TV sleuth, but I am pretty sure that the reason we last saw him he was sprinting through a maze of alleys means he’s in the wind and that lead is literally not worth chasing.

Episode 5, “The Season of the Witch,” ended with John Stone chasing Duane Reed after assuring Chandra he wasn’t going to do anything stupid.  Episode 6, “Samson and Delilah,” began in the same fashion with Chandra tracking down Mr. Day, whom had encountered the couple at the gas station hours before the murder took place. For what these interactions lacked in establishing actual suspects in the crime, they added new layers to the prosecution team; both John and Chandra leveled up big time — John got his first taste in a long time of what it meant to really care about a case and Chandra ventured out beyond her high-priced firms day to day activities to try and get her hands dirty. These two specific leads were explored to show the heroic journey of the underdog lawyers, which arguably is just as important to the overall story as it would be to stumble into a confession when cornering a potential suspect.  

Mr. Day, on the other hand, provided a completely different advancement of the narrative which unfortunately for the legions of detectives looking to wrap this thing up before the finale, had nothing to do with the murder at the center of the limited series.  This dude… is not a good dude.  To paraphrase the Ringer’s Chris Ryan on his podcast “The Watch,” Chandra went to question potentially the last person to see Andrea alive and wound up confronting the Zodiac Killer. In addition to a million other creepy things that transpired between Day and Chandra, we got a pretty good view of Day’s look at humanity through his telling of — in his opinion — the only Bible verse we need to understand: Judges 16; the story of Samson and Delilah. While Day’s spewing of biblical literature about how women are put on earth to ruin men (all told while Day is painting the fingernails of a corpse), would certainly put a big red exclamation point over his head to signify that this guy is the person we should be looking at for the murder, this too is a giant, glaring red herring.  He’s a big boss level creep, but he is not the psychopath we are looking for.  

His bastardized retelling of Samson and Delilah is worth examining for very different reasons.  In case it’s been awhile since you sat through catechism, I’ll summarize. Samson, a hero of the Israelites and the most powerful man in all the land after receiving old testament super powers from God, gets seduced by a women in league with his enemies, Delilah. By confiding in her the source of his power — his hair — she is able to tell the opposing army — the Philistines — how to defeat him.  He is then bound, tortured, blinded, and defeated. Day tells this story in a way that would make his hatred of women seem like a motive for killing Andrea.

If this were “Law and Order,” Det. Benson would have had the cuffs on him already, but because it’s not 10PM on NBC (or any time day or night on basic cable — shouts to the longevity and watchability of any and all Dick Wolf productions), this story is not an admission of guilt — it’s another ghost for the audience to chase down an alley.  Its placement in “The Night Of” is more about the evils of seduction and the perils of allowing oneself to be seduced, which is the what Naz is facing in prison the longer he is there.

Many of the challenges Naz has faced in Rikers to date have been out of his control — he didn’t burn his own bed, he didn’t douse himself with scalding hot baby oil, and he didn’t slice his own arm standing in line to be re-admitted into prison. These challenges are what lead Naz into his partnership with Freddy. What has happened to Naz since have been his own choices, albeit heavily influenced by those around him.  Getting tattoos — “SIN” and “BAD” on his knuckles (a stylized choice of SINBAD — a middle eastern folk hero) a howling wolf on his upper arm (Naz answering the call of the wild) — getting high on his own supply, accepting a cell phone to start his own prison business, etc., are all examples of Naz allowing himself to be seduced by the spoils of prison life.  

This shift in behavior for Naz is coming from somewhere, and just like John Stone’s pre-visit to Dr. Yi feet, is the manifestation of guilt. Something is eating away at him although we don’t know exactly what. You would think it would take more than a month for Naz to go from the honor roll to prison tattoos and freebasing cocaine through a Bic pen, but something inside him is pushing him along.  I doubt it is the knowledge that he killed Andrea and is more likely the fear that he and those around him — his parents, his brother, his lawyers, and his city — think he is capable of such a crime.

That fear, that is as plain on his face as the ink on his knuckles, might as well be a target for his seducers. Freddy lays it out pretty easily for him by whispering in his ear, asking if he really liked his life on the outside and if he knows how to get everything he could need in his current environment. I would posit that Freddy could have been behind all of Naz’s troubles at Rikers in order to reel him into his boat. Like Samson to the Philistines, Naz is a trophy for Freddy, no different than the TV, books, news clippings, and magazine covers that he has displayed in his cell.

This is why the Samson and Delilah allegory makes sense in the greater dissection of “The Night Of.” Naz is allowing himself to be seduced by his new environment and unknowingly he’s binding himself to it for eternity. He’s blinded by what his life has become, not what he could get back if he is found innocent. This was never just a whodunnit and at this point, and I’m not sure who-actually-dunn-it is important. Answering the questions of how this affects those caught up in the riptide of this murder and what happens next is a much more compelling story to tell.  

Blog Author: 
Padraic O'Connor
Gerry, Kirk and Gary Tanguay discuss the press release from Thursday announcing that John Dennis will be stepping down from the D&C show due to health reasons. The guys take a few calls with ideas for possible replacements.
Various reports say that Tom Brady cut his thumb with a knife before Thursday's preseason game while cleaning his spikes. Kirk, Gerry and Tango examine this and some other possibilities.
Kirk & Callahan with Tanguay spend a short segment discussing the Red Sox loss in Detroit on Thursday, with John Farrell mis-using his bullpen yet again.

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Gary Tanguay brings only a headline or two to the Friday party, but he does give the latest on Donald Trump and Ryan Lochte.

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Kirk, Gerry and Gary open the 7am hour talking about the return of former producer Chris Curtis after a sabbatical of sorts.

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