**Spoilers for HBO's "The Night Of" lie ahead. If you were too busy watching the VMAs and haven't finished the series, look away!**
"The Night Of," HBO's masterful miniseries about a young Muslim-American man facing trial for murder, wrapped Sunday night (August 28), and its closing notes have given the interwebs much to ponder. Some critics were apparently left unfulfilled, panning the finale as "ambiguous" and "vague" — which, honestly, couldn't be further from the truth. Was it a neatly packaged, cookie-cutter conclusion, leaving us with every single string tied? No. Should it have been? Hell no.
For the ending to have been even a sliver less open-ended would have caused the series to crumble in hokey-ness, and thankfully that didn't happen. Far from it. Instead, audiences were provided the clear inferences they needed to walk away relieved while still allowing the plot to maintain a realistic integrity. From a writer's perspective, it was resoundingly well-played.
Of course, it's not like we weren't given any concrete takeaways. The main one being — John Stone (beautifully portrayed by John Turturro) is a damn godsend, and should be listened to by everyone always. As murder suspect Naz's (Riz Ahmed) kinda-sorta lawyer with a big heart and even bigger case of eczema, Stone brought idiosyncrasy, humor, and humanity into every one of his scenes. Here are 5 reasons we love him and want him for our very own.
He's a man with his share of weaknesses.
Never before has an on-screen skin condition made me feel SO DANG MUCH.
Somehow, Stone's battles with eczema succeeded in making me feel more sympathy for him than Naz, who should've been the obvious feels candidate. Of course, plenty of empathy for Naz's situation was had, and the gradual hardening we saw of him in prison was part of the show's driving political message. But Stone rose to the forefront as the show's true underdog, and the way he was consistently shrugged off romantically by women, professionally by his peers, and relationally by his son made us consistently root for him.
Turturro himself has said the biggest appeal of Stone is how much of a "real survivor" he is, and we couldn't agree more.
But he never stopped trying, and he became Naz's strongest, most consistent, and most rationale advocate.
Having John Stone on his side is truly what saved Naz. His main lawyer, Chandra (Amara Karan), was an utter idiot — to be fair, a young and inexperienced one who was only trying to help, but nevertheless an idiot — who let emotions get the best of her and quite nearly condemned him. Her predecessor, Alison (Glenne Headly), had the skill, but lacked the empathy. Even Naz's own mother eventually turned on him (and I love that the finale teased the struggles yet-to-come in overcoming that betrayal).
Throughout that sea of rising and falling emotions – emotions that had the power to save or destroy Naz — Stone remained the voice of reason. In the end, he was the only character possessing any real consistency, which made us gravitate toward him as a source of safety all the more.
He also proved all those haters who underestimated him wrong by continually taking on real risks.
Notably, he was not the only one to stick his neck out in a meaningful way. Naz possessed a sort of hold on people (like Michael Kenneth Williams' character, Freddy, said, Naz was "like a unicorn") that made them go to great lengths on his behalf, and it's no coincidence that trait helped move the plot forward. But it seems like Stone had the least to personally gain from putting himself in harm's way for the sake of the case by trailing suspects and following his hunches. Yet, he did anyway.
And his most shining moment of sticking it to his undermining critics came in that BOSS closing argument.
After Chandra's painful ineptitude was exposed, Stone had to give the closing argument in her place with practically no time to prepare (and a major resurgence of eczema to boot). And he NAILED IT.
We'll never know for certain whether his raw, emotional plea to the jury is what swayed them to arrive at a deadlock, but there's plenty of reason to suspect that's so. After weeks of getting the cold, clinical details of what happened the night of October 24, Stone's speech was a burst of humanity in the courtroom. It was him at his best: Unfailingly the underdog working at a disadvantage, but earnest and straightforward and true.
But, of course, it was his adoption of Andrea's cat that cemented his big-heartedness.
In a truly magnificent final parting, HBO gave audiences the answer we all really wanted to know — what happened to the cat.
Seeing her scuttle across Stone's floor ended "The Night Of" on an undeniably hopeful note, which is really what his character provided to the series as a whole. Hope in our ability to persevere despite the odds against us, and to find affirmation and companionship in the midst of that (furry or otherwise).