The Best Theories About The Night Of (So Far)

Photo Courtesy of Barry Wetcher/HBO.
Oh, you thought that since Game of Thrones was over that you were gonna be going through withdrawal? Don't worry — HBO has got your back. And we've got your theories. Spoilers ahead!

The Night Of is quickly becoming the must-watch show of the summer. The miniseries was written by Richard Price, prolific crime novel author and writer on The Wire, and Steven Zaillian, who wrote the screenplays for American Gangster and Schindler's List, among others. The series is basically Serial mixed with a highbrow version of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

However, the show didn't come together without trials and tribulation. The pilot was ordered back in 2012 as a remake of the BBC series Criminal Justice and was originally set to star James Gandolfini as the underdog genius lawyer, Jack Stone, until his untimely death in 2013. Now, John Turturro has taken over the role in stride. The rest of the show's cast isn't littered with other big names or recognizable faces, which makes it that much easier to focus on the central mystery.

The show focuses on Nasir "Naz" Khan (Riz Ahmed), a 23-year-old Pakistani-American college student living with his parents in Jackson Heights, Queens. While driving his father's borrowed yellow cab, he encounters an intoxicating, mystifying young woman, later revealed to be a 22-year-old named Andrea Cornish (Sofia Black D'Elia.) The two spend a night together filled with booze and drugs. Later, Naz finds her brutally murdered in her bedroom and he flees the scene, unsure of what happened, but knowing that it looks really, really bad. And that only skims the surface of this complex show, which is sure to touch on prejudice, urban life, moral qualms, and corrupt justice systems.

It's easy to see why we already have so many questions and thoughts. We can't wait to see which of these theories comes to fruition.

Here are the best theories we have about the series so far.
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Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.
There is a serial killer on the loose.
In the opening scene of episode 7, Detective Box is standing over the bloodied body of a slain young woman. His remarks about the murder make it sound similar to Andrea Cornish's: the stab wounds, her age, a lack of witnesses and suspects. Could there be a serial killer who is continuing to strike freely because the state is so intent on proving that Nazir Khan killed Andrea?
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
Chandra’s kiss was not only inappropriate, but also premeditated.
Chandra has to know that there are cameras filming literally every inch of the courthouse. There is even a guard sitting less than a few feet away from the cell. What on earth is going through her head? Could she be sacrificing her career in order to help Naz?
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
Detective Box is low-key trying to throw the case.
For a veteran detective who has been in law enforcement for over 33 years, he has made a few too many mistakes during this case to make us think that he isn’t doing it on purpose. For instance, he didn’t have to give Naz that inhaler back in episode 2. Sure, Naz is asthmatic and has difficulty breathing in general, but he was hardly having a medical emergency when Box gave the piece of evidence to Naz in the holding cell. Also, Box didn’t pursue all of the witnesses to the crime. Why? I find it hard to believe that all this can be chalked up to simple negligence. My coworker thinks he is retiring because he is sick of the system and the injustices that stem from it.
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
Naz is seducing Chandra to give himself grounds for a mistrial.
We know that Naz is the Robin to Freddy's Batman at this point in time. He sees all of Freddy's sneaky ways, and is smart enough to learn from them. Could Naz have discovered a loophole on his own to get a mistrial, which is why he called Chandra to tell her good night in episode 6, and then used his innocence to seduce her in the cell? Can he see right through her pitying demeanor and so he's using her to get ahead? It would ruin her career, but it would also potentially save him from a lifetime behind bars for a crime he didn't commit. Could this be his true motive?
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
Naz will kill Freddy in prison, Call of the Wild style.
If Naz is found guilty and is destined to live most of his life on Rikers Island, then why not place himself at the top of the food chain? Freddy has taught Naz the rules of the prison, and Naz is a quick learner. He is tougher and smarter than we, the audience, and Freddy realize. It could be Naz's time to lead the pack.
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
Something bad is going to happen to Naz in prison.
The moment that Freddy is done with him or turns against him, the guards will surely punish Naz for all the prison laws he has broken. He is way too dependent on Freddy’s privileges and guidance. In episode 6 alone, he tries crack for the first time, gets involved in the cell-phone trade business, and is threatened for being too nosey. He needs to watch out.
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
Mr. Day, the hearse driver, is a red herring.
He’s too on the nose as a suspect to be guilty. He most likely just followed the cab for a bit, hoping to scare Andrea and Naz. After realizing that he didn’t seem to leave as big of an impact on the two in the car as he hoped, he probably drove away, back to his eerie morgue lair. All his religious allusions and “cat and yarn” games mark him as a zealot, but not a violent threat. He probably just wished her dead, and feels powerful that she did indeed end up killed.
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
Ray The Finance Bro is too helpful.
It's unclear exactly how big of a help Ray, Andrea's mother's financial advisor, will be to the case. He is pretty chatty and eager to implicate Don Taylor with the Andrea's death. It's also unclear just how close he was to Andrea. If you were guilty, wouldn’t you quickly point fingers to avoid winding up on the suspect list?
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
Duane Reade and his anxious accomplice will reappear.
Did the writers just think we would forget that episode 5 ended on a cliffhanger, with Stone chasing after Reade after learning that he was previously arrested for breaking and entering with a knife? Trevor appears to have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but if positioned correctly, he and Reade could poke holes in the prosecution's case because they are tainted witnesses. I think we'll be seeing them again, hopefully in the courthouse.
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
Stone's in good spirits thanks to his healed feet — hopefully it lasts.
Stone really shines in episode 6. He saves Naz's ass by switching shirts with him before the trial, he clears up his eczema by using Chinese medicine, he helps Chandra write her opening statement, he tries to reconnect with his son, and he finds a new witness for the defense.

I have a feeling all this progress is going to be shaken up in the last two episodes. Let's hope he can keep it together.
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Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.
The dead girl in the bed is not Andrea Cornish.
What if the whole thing was a set-up? This thought has crossed my mind before, but I never understood why Naz would be chosen as the scapegoat for this specific, and seemingly random, crime. Will Dailey via Twitter offered up his reasoning behind Naz's involvement. What if Andrea gave Naz all those drugs (specifically one like ketamine which will knock someone out, especially someone with a low tolerance like Naz) to frame him for the murder of another girl that looked like her? This sounds a little absurd because wouldn't the coroner have noticed that it wasn't Andrea? But then again, the step-dad was quick to say it was not her when he saw her picture until he was pushed a bit to say it was Andrea.

Dailey also theorizes that during the trial, the cause of death could be revealed as something else from before the stabbing even took place. Will Naz's injuries even match up with such a physically demanding stabbing? Something to consider.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Fred E. Night knows the murderer and that’s why he keeps Naz so close.
One fellow theorist, Christopher Alva, emailed me his theory about Freddy's character, the true puppet master behind it all. Perhaps Freddy, as a the big-time drug dealer he is, had some unfinished business with someone who owed him money — like Andrea. "Perhaps Andrea meddled in something and Night sent after her, and that guy [Duane Reade] was the one sent to deal with it, and happened to run into them," Alva writes.

So, why was Naz spared? "Maybe he was left alive because they knew he’d be a prime suspect and Night wants to take him under his wing for obvious reasons." Those obvious reasons being keeping an eye on him and making sure he doesn’t figure it out himself. To me, this makes more sense rather than Freddy liking Naz for his brain. Considering how episode 5 ended, this theory has some newfound validity.
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
The creepy neighbor could have definitely killed Andrea, his young, reckless, partying neighbor.
Many of you have reached out expressing your theories about the neighbor who lives across the street from the victim and was the main man responsible for Naz's arrest. He happened to be awake to see Naz break-in. He called the police, and patiently waited to talk to Detective Box. He was overly accommodating. He also asked if Naz seemed like the type of guy to run away to Europe. This comment, as one reader emailed me, plays into the overarching theme of social status and privilege (remember when the judge told Stone's client "do a jew crime" and you'll get "jew time.")

Could he be the killer, and is getting away with it just because he fits into a certain class and race? I mean look at that menacing stare.
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
Chandra Kapoor will be the help Naz actually needs, after seeing Alison Crowe's true colors.
Attorney Alison Crowe came off as extremely self-serving, and she confirmed those narcissistic intentions in episode 4. Her assistant, Chandra, seems to see through Alison's facade, and is actually interested in helping out Naz. It's unclear if she thinks that Naz is innocent or not. Though, she's the only person on the legal side to ask Naz if he in fact was guilty. Ultimately, it's her words that change the course of Naz's trial, not Crowe's or Stone's.

Will she be able to use her smarts to find the real killer? Or at least get creative and inventive enough to convince a jury that Naz is not a killer?
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
The mysterious man in the suit had a negative relationship with Andrea — or knows something he shouldn't.
Don Taylor looked pissed as hell when he saw a certain unnamed man at Andrea's funeral service. Luckily, Stone was lurking in the background and got footage of the two exchanging heated words. It sounded like Taylor was emphasizing the fact that he was "family" and the man was not. There was definitely beef between the two.

The next scene we saw Stone at a church, with a nun texting (which seemed a bit odd) and then him in front of the rehab facility Andrea spent time in. Could this chain of events be a plot device indicating that the man is connected to Andrea's darker moments when she was abusing drugs? Could Don be holding him responsible for her death, which is why he is so angry to see him at her grave site? Or, is Don guilty or something and this man is the only other one who knows it?
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Photo Courtesy of Barry Wetcher/HBO.
Fred E. Night will help Naz in prison — but why?
Fred E. Night knows something. He's a drug dealer and a powerful member of his community in Queens, where both Naz's family and Andrea's stepdad live. He immediately tries to cozy up to Naz, giving him a pair of tennis shoes to wear in the shower, and invites him to his comparatively lavish cell. It's unclear what his motives are, but I would not be surprised to find out that Night knew Andrea or that he might know what happened to her.

These two are not on the best terms at the conclusion of episode 3, but I am really intrigued by this unlikely friendship and potential alliance. At the same time, though, Night's criminal ways could land Naz in an even more damning predicament.
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Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.
Not being on the case will inadvertently make John Stone a better lawyer.
It's clear we are meant to sympathize with John Stone, the "right place, right time" lawyer. It's also clear that he got in a bit over his head, but the emotional connection he has with Naz will definitely come back into play, and in a more dynamic and surprising way since he is no longer his lawyer. Stone will find a way to rise to the occasion, and hopefully prove Naz's innocence while proving himself.

This is not the last we'll see Stone (or his eczema). Series co-creator Stephen Zaillian even teased that Stone's skin condition will play a major part in the final episode.
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
The racist jokester's friend is mighty suspicious.
After receiving multiple emails from fans of the show (keep sending them my way!), it seems that this guy's lingering stare left a huge impact on viewers during the first episode. He weirdly has not come up in the two following episodes, but I just can't shake that intense glare he directed at Naz. And why does his friend lie about being alone?

Sometimes all it takes is one look to alter the course of an evening — or a life.
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Photo Courtesy of Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.
Andrea's stepdad is totally involved.
The stand-out theory from episode 2 is that Andrea's step dad, Don Taylor, is somehow involved. When he first looks at a picture of Andrea's body, he lies and says it isn't her. When the coroner asks if he would then come look at the body to verify, he takes back his lie and says yes it is her. He didn't seem to know much about her life, but still took the time to sit and talk to Detective Box about her death. He definitely knows more than he is letting on. Another viewer of the show emailed me with an interesting connection and observation. Taylor is wearing a leather jacket that looks quite similar to the jacket worn by the motorcyclist in the first episode. Could he have killed Andrea, fled on his bike back to Queens, and then choked up in the morgue after seeing a more detailed picture of what he had done to his own step daughter? Perhaps.
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Photo Courtesy of Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.
Naz's mother covered up important evidence.
While Detective Box and his team are searching Khan's house and seizing evidence for the case, Naz's mother is in his room searching through some of her son's things. In the following scene, she's downstairs in the living room, and the washing machine is running loudly upstairs. She tells Box that she's running a load of laundry, but the machine wasn't running only moments before. She was definitely up to something. I wonder what she found that she thought she had to cover up...
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Photo Courtesy of Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.
Naz and John Stone's ailments will bring them closer.
As of now, Stone comes off pretty rough around the edges to Naz. It's clear from others scenes, like when he was at home with his son and talking to his ex-partner, that he is a very passionate and kind person. This wall that he built between him and Naz is purely for Naz's benefit. The fact that Naz has asthma and Stone has an ongoing skin infection, exposes a similar level of vulnerability for both characters. Also, neither seemed to have had a privileged upbringing, allowing Stone to see a version of himself in Naz.
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Photo Courtesy of Barry Wetcher/HBO.
Andrea killed herself.
We know little to nothing about the victim herself. We know she had a very fancy duplex on the Upper West Side. She also had access to lots of drugs and booze. Could she have been a drug dealer, and gotten doped up to forget her dark and troubled past? Probably. She also liked to live dangerously. She was the one practically begging Naz to stab her hand so she could feel the pain.

The wildest of theories we read is that Andrea committed suicide. But after seeing her cut-up body, it's nearly unfathomable to think she could have done that to herself. As the detective describes in the police station, she had "knife wounds to her stomach, chest, and hands," all areas she could have technically reached herself with a knife. But there was no knife recovered in the room, so this theory is the least tangible that we have.
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
The motorcyclist was also fleeing the crime scene.
On a practically deserted street, Naz finds himself face-to-face with a motorcyclist who pulls up right next to him and stares him down. Could the person under the helmet be the killer who was also fleeing the scene of the crime? If Naz hadn't been pulled over after making that illegal left turn, would the motorcyclist have followed him and killed him, too? Perhaps.
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
The hearse driver followed through on his threat.
While Naz is getting Andrea a refreshment inside the gas station, she lights up a cigarette next to the gas pump — a major safety hazard. An onlooker, who happens to be driving a hearse, walks over and makes a threatening remark, asking if she wants to be his next passenger. Andrea looks unfazed by the threat and rolls her eyes.

When Naz heads back to the car, the driver stares him down again, looking even more menacing. Could the ominous figure have followed them with the intention of teaching them a lesson?
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
The racist jokester killed Andrea.
The passerby in plaid sure did pop up conveniently right after Detective Box walked outside after investigating the crime scene. Why was this guy lingering outside the home once again? Is it just bad luck for Naz? Or was he there all night, waiting to enter through the propped open back door (more on that later) and hurt Andrea?

We already know that he's a pretty hateful guy after his insensitive comments to Naz earlier in the night. But he also lied to Detective Box about being alone when he encountered the couple entering the brownstone. Why did he lie?

He also mentioned weed, and if Andrea was a drug dealer, maybe they knew each other through that, and he knew how to get into her house.
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
The killer entered through the back door.
While we can't be sure who came in through the back entrance, this is a very important piece of evidence. After Andrea realizes Naz is allergic to her cat, she lets the animal out the back entrance to the brownstone and doesn't shut the iron gate behind her. She lets it slam and swing back open. Anyone who knew about the second entrance could easily, and sneakily, have entered the premises.

Maybe a scorned lover or violent drug dealer had been staking out her place, waiting for her to get home, and once he saw through the windows what was transpiring, he waited until the right moment to venture inside and kill the girl.
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Photo Courtesy of HBO.
The cat is up to something.
There were two orange cats seen in the first episode of the show. That seems pretty important. But how? Obviously the cat didn't kill Andrea, but a far-reaching theory is that the cat running behind Naz's father in the final scene is indeed the same cat, and that the killer dropped the cat off at the home as a threatening reminder that he knows where he lives.
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Photo Courtesy of Barry Wetcher/HBO.
Naz killed her but can't remember.
The hardest theory to come to terms with for me is that Naz did it. He seems like a nice, innocent guy who will be put through the wringer based on all the evidence stacked against him.

But at the same time, the night's activities were nothing like he was used to. He was a "good Muslim boy," doesn't drink, but with his manic pixie nightmare girl he drank tequila, took mysterious drugs (most likely ecstasy and cocaine) and had sex for only the second time in his life. He could have blacked out and gotten violent in the heat of the moment and not remember anything.
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