thenightoffinaleIn case you needed another reminder that summer is almost over, one of the season’s buzziest shows came to an end. After eight weeks of “did he” or “didn’t he” (a drama’s version of “will they?” or “won’t they”) they finally reached a verdict in the season finale…and so did I. Spoilers ahead.

And Andrea’s killer is…. Ray! You remember Ray, right? Andrea and her mother’s financial adviser? The one who was super eager to help with the case? Yep, turns out he and Andrea were also romantically involved. How did they know this?  They found footage of him not only arguing with Andrea before she got in Nas’ cab, but also lurking outside her apartment at the time of the murder. Why those tapes were never discovered earlier is beyond me, but that’s besides the point. What does matter is that Sgt. Box (who is technically retired at this point) brought this information to Helen, but it apparently wasn’t enough for her and her winey voice. She decided they had more proof against Nas, so she continued with her closing arguments and left Nas’ fate in the jury’s hands. Luckily for him, the jury eventually said, “Nah you can take that responsibility back” because they couldn’t agree on a verdict. It’s only then that Helene decided to be a good person and not proceed with another trial. And with that, Nas was officially a free man! Or you know, as free as you can be when you were just wrongly accused of a brutal crime and everyone’s opinions of you are tainted forever.

Regardless, Nas got to return home where he is still pissed at his mom, because lets be real, she basically thought he did it. So much for a mother’s unconditional love! Luckily, his feelings of anger, or pretty much feelings about anything, didn’t last long because he snuck out of his house (again) for a quick heart-to-heart with John before driving back to the river. It’s slightly nostalgic, returning back to the moment that started it all with Andrea, but it’s also really secluded a.k.a. the perfect place to do drugs… again. Part of me was literally waiting to her the sound of a siren pull up behind him and send him right back to prison. It didn’t happen, but he did get really high.

Other big things that happened in the episode: John earned his place as a bomb-ass lawyer by giving a closing argument that pretty much undid all the damage Chandra did earlier in the episode. What’d Chandra do? She was killing it before! Yes, she was…until she wasn’t. After actually doing her job well and giving the jury a bunch of alternative scenarios, she decided to put Nas on the stand. Cue the “Y THO” memes. I’m no lawyer, but if you’re going to put your defendant on the stand, I would assume it’s because you know he is innocent. Even more importantly, it would be because HE knows he’s innocent. In this case, Nas wants to believe he didn’t do it, but he’ll never really know because he was 10-levels beyond blackout. SO, basically with one line of questioning, homegirl erased all progress she had made and eliminated any traces of reasonable doubt that had been dropped.  Then, as if she wasn’t having a bad enough time, John got his hands on footage of her and Nas kissing. He asked Nas if he wanted to use it (for the chance of getting a mistrial) and Nas eventually said yes… even after she smuggled drugs in her vayjayjay for him! No respect. Zero.

Elsewhere, Helen and Sgt. Box decided that maybe it was time to try and take Andrea’s real killer down for real (a.k.a do what they were supposed to be doing this entire show). The plan looked to be set in motion as the last we saw of Sgt. Box, he was creepily following Ray down the street. His stalking sparks two questions: Was this done to assure people that justice was gonna be served — even if we didn’t see it? Or, was it all a set up for a second season?  Well, time will be the one to answer that, but here’s my case for why Season 1 was a great summer binge:

Exhibit A: Nas then VS. Nas now. If you look back at Nas when he’s sneaking out the door to steal his dad’s cab in the pilot, to when he’s sneaking out to do drugs in the finale, it’s like two different people. The face is the same, but everything else is different. Yes, the muscles, shaved head, and tattoos helped, but it’s like you’re seeing two different characters. But aside from the physical changes, you see him differently because you’re now viewing him differently. It was his character arc that was fun to witness, mainly because he kept you questioning who he really was every episode. The same kid who once pushed a student down the stairs at school was the same person who offered to get an injured inmate protection. Which one of these was the real Nas? You could never really tell, which leads me to…

Exhibit B: All the reasonable doubt. Not just in the courtroom, but in our own living rooms. When asking someone “So, do you think he did it?” nobody I know who watched this show could give a clear answer. Everyone was divided, much like the jury. Normally as viewers we’re privy to more information than the “jury gets” on screen, but even with the stuff we were seeing outside the courtroom, it was still hard to reach a final verdict. It’s been a while since a show could so easily divide people, and get people talking —even if the chatter wasn’t always positive. The Night Of not only did that, it did it well.

Exhibit C: John Stone. Pretty much everything about him. His trench coats. His love for the cat that could have killed him. His one-liners. His itching. And I’m gonna say it again, his closing argument. Every scene he was in was great. From the pilot to the finale, you watched him struggle with feeling like he wasn’t “worthy” of representing someone like Nas – mainly because he was consistently judged- and then see him deliver a passionate speech in one of the most judgmental rooms ever: a courtroom. Add on the fact that his eczema made a triumphant return, it was like his surroundings were trying to make him fail, but he didn’t. With his speech he was able to take a bunch of skeptics, and get some of them believe. And he gets bonus points for keeping the cat.

Exhibit D: The reminder that we all cross lines. Not to get too deep here, but Nas wasn’t the only one who found himself in fucked up situations. And he wasn’t the only one who lowered his standards to meet them —although his were definitely on the more severe end of the spectrum. Being the distraction so your friend can kill someone in prison? Yeah, you can consider that line crossed thanks to Nas. Smuggling drugs to your defendant inside your vajayjay? Looking at you, Chandra. Deciding not to prosecute the actual killer…basically because you’ve already done “too much work” on the current trial? Helen is your girl. What I’ saying is, every character made bad decisions. Some of those decisions just came with bigger consequences.

Simply stated: It reminded us that nobody is whoever they seem to be. It’s why the whole case against Nas worked in the first place. It affirmed that it doesn’t matter who you think you are, during the night of any given scenario, you never really know what you’re capable of. But what you do know, is that this universal truth makes for some great TV.