E1 'The Beach'
For those unaware, the basic premise of this show is that it is about a young fellow who goes out on a wild night, only to end up getting arrested for a murder he may or may not have committed. I would like to go a little more into detail about this.
First I want to talk about the opening sequence. Like most people say, it can be compared to the opening of True Detective. The opening music, composed by Fargo's Jeff Russo, was beautiful. It fit perfectly with the dark theme of the video. Overall I found it to be haunting yet appealing at the same time.
Moving to the story, we are shown the life of Nasir 'Naz' Khan, a young college student and we see a small portion of his daily life before he embarks on a night that will change his life.( I know the last bit is a common sentence but it is regularly used in the start of a great story). To get to his party, Naz takes his father's taxi but on the way he gets mistaken for a real driver by a girl who wants to go to the beach, a girl whose name we don't find out until 40 minutes into the show. Even though he explains to her that he isn't a taxi driver, he still agrees to drive for her, but not before getting her a beer at a gas station. They go down to the river and take some drugs then proceed to spend the night at her house. Before they can enter, Naz gets insulted by a racist ( played by Bodie from The Wire) with his friend by his side ( I mention his friend because I believe he will be important later on). Naz and the girl then take some shots and play around with a knife until Naz accidentally stabs the girl's hand. But instead of taking care of the wound, the drug addled and drunk youths decide to have sexy time instead.
Afterwards, Naz wakes up from his subsequent slumber and decides to leave but he goes to talk to the girl before departing, only to find her dead with numerous cuts on her body. Out of panic, Naz runs out of the house with the knife(Mistake #1), only to go back and break into the house to retrieve his car keys(Mistake #2), which was noticed by a neighbour who calls in the break in.
Naz drives away, only to be caught by the police for taking a wrong turn(Mistake #3). The police officers take him into custody for DUI but are called over to the girl's house by the neighbour. They investigate the house and call in the homicide while Naz is trapped in their car. Naz watches as more and more authorities come and go into the house before being taken to the police station by another pair of cops.
While Naz is waiting at the station, Sgt.Dennis Box arrives on the scene and sees the body and is told that the girls name is Andrea Cornish. He then meets the racist, whose name is revealed to be Trevor outside the crime scene. Box takes Trevor as as a witness although Trevor was forced to come as he smelt of weed. Just as Box enters the precinct, the cops find the knife on Naz and pin him down as he tries to run away while claiming to be innocent. At that moment Trevor walks in and identifies Naz as the guy with Andrea.
Box then speaks to Naz in an interrogation room. Unlike a lot of cop shows, Box doesn't get angry or use any violent interrogation methods on Naz, which I found to be a pleasant surprise. Instead he tried to show some sympathy and asked Naz about the murder without forcing him to answer any question. Box then convinces Naz to take some tests after which Naz is placed in a holding cell. After one hour and five minutes, John Turtorro's character Jack Stone finally shows up. After meeting with one of his clients, Jack sees Naz in his pitiful state and decides to help him. He asks Naz a few questions and leaves, but not before telling him to not talk to anyone at all. Afterwards Naz calls up his father and tells him he's in the police station for murder. Upon hearing this, his father rushes out, only to find his taxi missing.
First if all, I'm so glad HBO has released a very realistic drama in the vein of The Sopranos. I also like how it shares a common element with Fargo, as they both involve common folk involved in screwed up situations. I really liked Riz Ahmed's performance. He did a good job playing a scared kid who made stupid decisions, like taking the knife from the crime scene. Now some people would say " What an idiot. He shouldn't have taken the knife". But Naz was panicking. He couldn't think straight, especially with all the alcohol he had consumed. People do strange things under pressure. I have feeling that Riz is gonna have a great future, especially since he's in the upcoming movie Star Wars: Rogue One
I was a little annoyed that John Turtorro showed up on in the last 10 minutes, but those few minutes were enough to convince me that he was a good choice for the role, though I'm not ready to throw an Emmy at him just yet. Future episodes shall be the judge of that. Overall, even thought the episode was long (75 minutes), I thought this was worth my time and is worth yours too, even if you don't plan to continue the series. I was worried about HBO's lack of epic dramas aside from Game of Thrones and The Leftovers (not to mention they ditched Utopia) on its current slate but this show proves that HBO can still do good and in this golden era of television, that's all that matters
Quote of the special: "You wanna be my next passenger?"