Road To Gold: I’ve Got A Bad Feeling

The Night Of
Golden Globes Nomination: Best TV Miniseries or Movie + Best Actor, Mini-Series or TV Movie
SAG Awards Nomination: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries

Game of Thrones failed me. I was far too obsessed with the latest season of the show to pay attention to press surrounding The Night Of, the show that would replace HBO’s coveted Sunday night timeslot. I saw the commercials every week as I sat waiting for Jon Snow to come back to life, but for some reason was convinced that The Night Of was a contagion story, or involved some supernatural elements, or was just too creepy for me to pay attention to. Obviously, I was wrong about all of the above.

If you’ve ever seen an episode of Law & Order, you get the gist of The Night Of. It’s a dark  procedural cop show at it’s core, revolving around a seemingly cut-and-dried murder case where Nasir Khan (Riz Ahmed), a young Pakistani-American, is on trial for the death of an Upper West Side girl. But in its first hour it pulls you in farther than anything allowed on Network television, and ends up saying a lot more about race than what Ice-T gets to deliver. It’s frustratingly slow at times, especially when we’re given more information about John Turturro’s character’s eczema than the evidence surrounding Nas. Its the pacing that gets to you, filling you with an ominous feeling of dread that you try to ignore while falling in love with Ahmed (who is having a great year, and also manages to be in the best character in Rogue One). The Night Of is a show that sticks with you because, as a mini-series, we’re never really left with any sort of conclusion. And while some of these questions are nagging (Why was his lawyer portrayed as an idiot who kisses him in a jail cell, on camera, even though I’d probably want to do the same thing?), most are left unanswered as a reminder that this happens every day in America. What happens to a young man forced into the prison system, what happens on trial when there’s no evidence to nab the likely criminal, what happens in racially divided neighborhoods – these are questions that don’t get answers, in real life or on HBO. I honestly haven’t stopped thinking about the show since I finished it. Maybe we’ll get a season two that will fill in some blanks, but if you’re looking to tune in I’ll tell you this: the cat, at least, gets a conclusion.

Books, TV

Television & Surprise Reveals, AKA the Jon Snow Predicament

How do you pull off a big reveal? Not a hypothetical question, I’m really asking: how do you do it? I can only image how much easier it was back in the Dallas days, where there were no Twitter rumors or grainy iPhone photos from the set that could spoil what you’ve spent months and millions on hiding from your dedicated audience. Poor Kit Harington has been bombarded with questions for close to a full year, and though his lying finally paid off and (spoiler alert) Jon Snow came back to life last night, was it all worth it?

I’ve recently read the A Song Of Ice & Fire series that Game of Thrones is based on, a summer’s worth of train rides intended to tide me over before season 5, since I had binged 1-3 right before season 4 began and was in desperate need for a fix. So it’s all relatively fresh to me (except the Greyjoy stuff, I’m sorry but I skimmed), particularly the cliffhanger ending of Jon Snow being stabbed to death by some choice traitors of the Night’s Watch. Not that anyone would need a refresher on that- if I never see that image of Jon Snow dying in the snow ever again, I’ll be good!- but when the scene concluded season 5 I was less than surprised. I also wasn’t worried at all. Was it because I firmly believe in R+L=J, something that the show couldn’t get away with not revealing eventually? Was it because Harington would be spotted in Belfast more times than anyone could count? Why didn’t I care that one of my favorite characters had just been killed off a show that infamously kills favorite characters? And why does it matter?

I don’t watch The Walking Dead, but I have a feeling they’ll run into a similar issue next season, when it’ll be revealed who Negan brutally murdered at the end of last season. From the internet’s reaction, it was sort of a cop-out to have an entire season leading up to a death that is never seen. Are viewers going to find out who is dead at the beginning of the premiere episode? Mid-season finale? I’m interested in how they’re going to raise the tension for some that everyone’s already expecting- something that Thrones currently has to tackle with The Mountain, a character I’m fairly certain everybody knows has been reincarnated by Qyburn as Cersei’s champion, but hasn’t been explicitly revealed to the audience. What’s the hold up?! At least with Jon, we got some answers. My sister guessed during the episode that they’d make us sweat out Snow’s fate for one more week, and I was thrilled to see that they didn’t. Jon Snow dying was a good cliffhanger, regardless of how much you believed he was really dead, but his resurrection mostly just made me glad that we wouldn’t be heading into another week of “not knowing” if Jon Snow was “really dead.” After a while, all the waiting lends itself to disappointment and wasted time.

It brings to mind similar reveals this television season, specifically The Flash. It’s big-bad reveal this season was sort of a wash- Earth 2’s Jay Garrick wasn’t really Jay Garrick, he was Hunter Zolomon, AKA Zoom! But the audience already knew this, having figured it out weeks before Barry, so the lead-up and discovery of his secret was a little lukewarm (I’m really not going to blame The Flash on that, considering the story was really only bogged down by obligatory network prep for the Legends of Tomorrow spinoff, but I digress-). Maybe the audience is just getting too smart. After all, everything I’m referring to here is based on a pre-existing written series. We can’t expect the source material to be completely re-written just to keep TV audiences on their toes. But at the same time… Can’t we? If Hollywood is going to keep adapting, they’re going to need to not get lazy about the execution. Or maybe just don’t give us an important, beloved character and expect the actor not to cut his hair immediately after dying on screen… You know what, maybe audiences are just asking for a lot these days. Anyways, long live Jon Snow.