Does the new HBO crime series have you hooked?
Spoilers for “The Beach”
Naz Kahn (Riz Ahmed) is a native of Queens and a fairly typical American college student. He goes to class, tutors an athlete, he wants to have some fun in his youth despite his immigrant parent’s religious objections. Overall he seems like a good kid who doesn’t want to pass up an invitation to a party in Manhattan from his tutee’s teammate. When his friend and ride bails on him, Naz decides to “borrow” his father’s cab. While cursing the Manhattan streets, a beautiful woman (Sofia Black D’Elia) gets into the cab (Naz didn’t know how to turn on the “Off Duty” sign) wanting to go to the beach, but is willing to settle for a river way uptown.
The two engage in a moonlight conversation at the river about their fathers (his is a good man, hers was just okay) and she offers him a pill after taking on herself. At first Naz is unwilling, but after her fluttery eyed plea of not wanting to be alone, Naz takes the drug. The enigmatic woman (she has yet to tell him her name) has him half in love with her with her sad, striking eyes and sexy husky voice. It doesn’t take much to convince him to come back to her Upper West Side brownstone, where she lives in alone. A little cocaine, a few shots of tequila, a game of five-finger fillet that leaves the woman with a knife wound in her hand courtesy of Naz, and the two end up in bed together for some sexy times.
Cut to Naz waking up at her kitchen table, half-dressed and alone. Knowing he needs to get him and the cab back to Queens, Naz starts to gather his clothes and goes to tell the woman thanks for the good time. But something is very wrong. There is a sticky substance on the bed. When Naz turns on the light, the woman, her bed, the wall, and the lamp are all covered in blood. How someone reacts when they find a person dead can be pretty telling of what kind of individual they are. What does it say about Naz when he finds the woman he just slept with dead and runs out the door without calling the police?
Realizing he left the keys to the cab in the house, Naz breaks a window to unlock the door, catching the attention of a neighbor across the way. Naz finds his jacket with the car keys and high tails it out the door again, taking the knife he and his one-night stand used to play five-finger fillet. His erratic driving catches the attention of two officers shortly before they get a call to investigate a break-in. They put Naz in the back of the squad car to process for drunk driving later and the nightmare becomes worse as they arrive back at the brownstone he just ran out of. Two more officers come on the scene and the four cops go into the house. Helpless in the back of the cop car, Naz watches as more officers, the Crime Scene Unit, and a couple of detectives arrive at the brownstone to investigate an obvious murder. He is taken to the precinct by another set of officers who mistakenly believe Naz is a witness to the crime.
“Is she dead?” he asks them. “I think that’s safe to say” an officer answers back.
As Naz is left to sweat out his never-ending nightmare at the station, Detective Box (Bill Camp) starts to investigate the murder of the now identified Andrea Cornish. The “good looking kid” has multiple stab wounds around her hands, back, and abdominal area. As Box is looking around the neighborhood, he hears a man say “what’d he do? Kill her or something?” Trevor (J.D. Williams), a weed dealer and neighbor, saw an “Arab dude” go into the house with Andrea. He tells Box he was alone in witnessing the couple, but we know there was a second man with Trevor.
Naz contemplates making a run for it while sitting at the station. The officer on the desk isn’t giving him any attention and there are very few people around. Nonchalantly, Naz makes his way to the exit, but before he can make it to freedom, Box, the neighbor who saw the break in, and the two officers who initially pulled Naz over walk into the precinct (sounds like a really bad set up for a long joke).
Exasperated the other uniforms didn’t breathalyze him on suspicion of drunk driving, the officers start to pat Naz down and get his information as Box is describing Andrea and the murder. As Box is describing the possible murder weapon, a “approximately five inches long, inch and a half wide, possibly serrated” knife, the officer pulls a knife matching the description from Naz inside jacket pocket. Naz is tackled as he tries to run when Trevor walks in fingering Naz as the guy who went in the house with Andrea.
Detective Box is definitely a man who has investigated many murders in his career. He is very calm and methodical when questioning Naz. Almost kind in the way he attempts to manipulate Naz into confessing to the killing. I imagine not much rattles this man.
Naz holds to his story of having sex with Andrea, then blacking out only to wake and find her dead. He admits to Box, she is “only the second girl I slept with,” and he liked her, but didn’t kill her. “Judges and juries don’t like ‘I can’t remember’” and “honesty and remorse can shave a lot of years off” a sentence, Box advises Naz. The detective continues to show empathy towards the young man as officers have him strip off his clothing and swab his mouth and penis for DNA.
Naz is left to sit in a holding cell waiting to be charged when Jack Stone (John Turturro) sees the wide eyed kid. Like Box, Jack has most likely seen more than he cares to remember as a low level lawyer making a living getting small timers out of jail. A past we have yet to find out about has made Jack a pure cynic who probably doesn’t have an altruistic bone in his body, but something about the giant eyes that are full of fear belonging to Naz makes the lawyer interested in his case. Thinking the young man is charged with assaulting a girl, Jack takes him on as a new client advising him to always answer with “I don’t know. Talk to my lawyer.” Jack gets the surprise of his life when he finds out Detective Box (a name, it seems, Jack is very familiar with) is looking to charge this Bambi like kid with murder.
Thoughts and Questions:
Finding the knife as Box is describing it and Trevor walking into the scene just as the officers are wrestling Naz to the ground was such a hack TV moment, but I didn’t care. The tension was so ramped up by that point I practically was falling off my couch, I was so far on the edge of my seat.
Box is doing what he is supposed to do when he tries to get a confession out of Naz, but a part of me wonders if Box believes him when he says he is innocent. Despite all the evidence mounting against the kid, Box has yet to charge Naz with murder. Is this because Box is waiting to make sure he has the right guy, or is he just making sure all of the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.
Trevor’s friend gives Andrea and Naz a long, hard look as the two are entering her apartment. Does this mysterious man know Andrea? Why did Trevor lie to Box when he said he was alone.
Jack seems to know quite a bit about the Pakistani culture. He tells Naz he has never been to Pakistan, but why do I have a feeling that is not the whole truth? Other than the frightened, thousand-yard stare, what is it about Naz that makes Jack want to help him? And how does Jack know Box? There was definitely a look of recognition when the desk clerk said the detective’s name.
Why did Andrea not want to be alone that night? Was it because she was feeling down and wanted company, or was she afraid of someone? Her comment about wanting to teleport from something bad to get away is telling me she is in trouble, but doesn’t know how to save herself. How could she afford her brownstone without a roommate? I don’t know too much about New York real estate, but I do know those places are not cheap. I don’t think it is a Sex and the City situation where people live in places they cannot afford, but it doesn’t matter because it is all about the glamor. Naz’s fawning over how amazing her place is gives me a feeling her ability to have the funds for such a place will become a plot point.
I loved how the show focused on the various surveillance cameras and long lingers of witnesses to Naz’s journey down the rabbit hole. It is as if you can see the pieces of evidence the detectives are going to follow to build the case against Naz.
Small mistakes, like the break in the chain of command with Naz’s clothing and the knife or the arresting officer leaving her thumb print on the knife when she pulls it out of the jacket, are going to become big moments in the case against Naz.
What did you think of the newest murder drama from HBO? Are you like me and feel like this is the second season of True Detective fans deserved? Why the focus on Jack Stone’s nasty feet? What do you think happened after Naz blacked out? Talk to me in the comments section below.