HBO's current drama slate begins and ends with The Night Of, a gripping eight-part mini-series adapted from the BBC crime drama Criminal Justice. The show follows the story of Nasir "Naz" Khan, a Pakistani-American college student who winds up the prime suspect in the horrific murder of a young, wealthy white woman named Andrea. The whodunnit elements of the show actually take a backseat to watching how the criminal justice system plays out when a person of color is in custody. But here are seven The Night Of theories to pore over while you wait for the next installment.
We meet Andrea's stepdad in Episode 2 (played by Boardwalk Empire and House of Cards alum Paul Sparks) and his behavior is definitely squirrelly. First, he demonstrates a pretty shocking lack of concern once he hears Andrea is in trouble, and later, he denies that the dead body in the morgue belongs to Andrea. Eventually, he admits that it is her, but he really, really doesn't want to see the body for some reason. Theories are cropping up that either Andrea's stepdad might be the murderer, or that they might have had a sexual relationship, or both, or none of the above and he's just a red herring. Either way, he's a suspicious character. Some even think that he was in the house the whole time Andrea was with Naz, just waiting to murder her, and that he was the man on the motorcycle behind Naz's cab when Naz flees the scene. A possible motive for Andrea's stepfather might be that Andrea inherited her swanky Upper East Side townhouse from her mom after she died, while her stepdad lives all the way out in Queens. He might be angling to either get the house or cash in on it.
In addition to the drugs and alcohol in his system, which may have caused him to pass out, fans are pointing out that whenever Naz gets agitated, he has an asthma attack. It seems odd that he'd make it through the relatively athletic process of stabbing someone to death without losing his breath and — possibly — losing consciousness.
The Back Door
Remember in the premiere, when Andrea takes the cat outside because it's triggering Naz's asthma? She uses a noticeably different door that the front door Naz locks himself out of. It's possible that Andrea left the brownstone's downstairs/side door open, and that's how the real killer got inside. Fans point out that whomever it was probably would have had some previous knowledge of the house's layout, pointing back to Andrea's stepdad as a possible suspect.
The Deer Head
Oh man. Fans are loving speculation about the possible significance of the deer head mounted in Andrea's foyer. There have been a ton of visual references to it in the first two episodes, leading fans to wonder if perhaps there is a camera mounted inside of it. It would be a little too neat and tidy if that were the case, but we are seeing shot after lingering shot of the head in closeup — Andrea touching it as she walks upstairs, forensics guys swabbing the bloodstain on it — and it feels too significant at this point to be nothing.
Several fans noticed that in the flashback at the top of Episode 2, in which we see Andrea and Naz's sex scene again, there's a creaking noise that either sounds like a door opening or the staircase squeaking. It could be a huge hint that someone else is in the house while Andrea and Naz are going at it, and that whomever it is might be enraged or jealous that Andrea is having sex with someone else.
Did Naz Shower?
Perhaps the biggest indicator of Naz's innocence is the fact that he doesn't have a drop of blood on him when he wakes up, with the exception of the small amount from the cut on his hand. Andrea's murder scene is a grisly one. She's been stabbed multiple times, and her body, the bedspread, the walls, and even the lamp on the nightstand are covered in blood. It seems super unlikely that Naz escaped brutally stabbing her to death so cleanly. Some fans are wondering if Naz might have murdered her after sex (with his clothes out of the way), showered, and then gotten dressed and gone downstairs before passing out.
The True Detective Secret Twist
...Okay, this theory is sort of just for entertainment purposes but some fans have teasingly floated the idea that The Night Of is the "secret" third season of True Detective, which HBO will reveal in some way after the season airs. It would be a hilarious and creative marketing twist after True Detective's abysmal second season, but considering The Night Of has been in the works for years and is adapted from a BBC series, it's unlikely that HBO is using it for a vehicle to resurrect True Detective.