There is always a lot to keep your eye out for when watching The Night Of. It's the kind of series that provokes viewers to read between the lines and connect the dots for ourselves. We're always looking for red herrings, allusions, symbolism, double meanings, and clues in order to come up with the best theories. And the references to a certain infamous murder case in last night's penultimate episode are not just brilliant, but full of clues about Naz's fate.
Now, there are already a number of similarities between the trial of Nasir Khan and O.J. Simpson's: the murder of a young woman in an apparent crime of passion; racial bias by the police; sensationalized media coverage; an overly confident prosecution; the absence of another suspect; and a rotating defense team. But in last night's episode, both the prosecution and defense make explicit references to the O.J. Simpson trial.
First, head prosecutor Helen Weiss tries to undermine the credibility one of the defense's key witnesses, forensic pathologist Dr. Katz. Now, Katz's testimony is crucial to Naz's defense. He states that there is another knife mysteriously missing from the set of four identical knives in Andrea's apartment — suggesting that the missing knife could have been used by another party as the murder weapon. Katz also insists that the wound on Naz's hand was likely from reaching through the broken glass of the front door, and not from Naz's hand slipping down the knife as he stabbed Andrea. Finally, Katz points out that the back gate to the apartment doesn't latch and that the backdoor was unlocked the night of the murder. He also says that he himself was able to scale a tree and climb into the open window on the brownstone's second floor without any trouble.
Weiss tries to construct an image of Katz as a celebrity pathologist known for testifying in many high-profile (and sometimes televised) court cases — like, for instance, the O.J. Simpson trial. She is distracting from the evidence and veracity of his observations by casting doubt on his motives and legitimacy. (Does this guy know what he's doing, or is he a fame-hungry witness for hire?) Potentially, this could cause the jury to question Katz's testimony, on which much of Naz's defense is based — at least so far. Will Weiss' calculated storytelling sway the jury? The elaborate story Simpson's lawyers told certainly did.
The other reference to the O.J. Simpson trial is both blatant and significant. Chandra calls Box to the stand and questions the detective about his decision to remove a piece of evidence — Naz's asthma inhaler — from the crime scene and give it to the suspect, seeing as Box has 30 years working cases under his belt and knows this is a gross violation of protocol. Box says he did it because Naz was suffering and needed his medicine. But Chandra has another theory. "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit," she says, quoting Johnnie Cochran's famous line from his dramatic defense of O.J. Simpson. What she means is that the inhaler doesn't jibe with the characterization of Naz as a coldblooded murderer. It depicts him as weak and vulnerable. "An inhaler doesn't fit the way we see a crazed killer trying to stab someone 22 times between hits off of his Ventolin," Chandra says. So, she suggests, Box may have subconsciously removed a piece of evidence that didn't fit the profile of their murder suspect. The glove didn't fit.