The late James Gandolfini was originally to play the character of John Stone. Given how much John Turturro just owns the role, giving it his own unique stamp, I do wonder how differently the character would have turned out as played by Gandolfini. Somehow I suspect Stone would be less of the sad sack scrapper that Turturro makes him out to be, if for no other reason than Gandolfini was such a large man in life, he’d be a heck of a lot more intimidating even with the psoriasis problems.
But here’s the thing: John Stone makes this series. He’s about the only character in it that we see having any sort of life not related to the trial. Everyone else is focused on the trial. We see Stone get hives when Chandra’s indiscretion with Naz in the holding cell is revealed, disbarring her, and forcing him to deliver the closing remarks, a thing he never does. We see him reluctantly return the victim’s cat to the pound, and then in the closing moments rescue it again in what looks like a more permanent manner. We see him get Andrea’s slimy stepfather back for the threats he gave Stone in the previous episode. We see him suffer abuse from other people, get outright ignored on the subway, and basically just keep doing his job.
We also see Naz change over the course of the eight episodes. The generally nervous kid is walking around at the end of the mini-series like a shark gliding through ocean currents. He’s giving everyone hard stares. He’s still basically the good kid, and when Chandra (against Stone’s advice) puts him on the stand, the prosecutor takes him apart. But somehow, Naz convinced Stone, Chandra, and even Freddy he was innocent, and Detective Box was just wary enough to keep digging.
It’s that digging that ultimately saves Naz. The jury is hung, and Box found another, more likely suspect that he and the DA will look into after letting Naz go.
But Naz isn’t really free. He’s still haunted by Andrea’s death, he’s still hooked on drugs, and he and his parents seem more distant than before. Even if he is innocent, he’s getting enough looks around where he lives to show people don’t believe that. The criminal justice system, particularly Rikers Island, changed him. He won’t be that innocent, carefree kid again, especially with all his personal dirty laundry hung out to dry by the trial.
I’m giving this one 10 out of 10 eczema attacks. It was a clear, sobering look at how someone’s life can go completely wrong for a crime he didn’t commit.
But we’re at the end of another show, and while much of what I’ve been watching lately is so depressing, what will I be switching to next? Something lighthearted?
Nah. Not yet. Let’s look into The Young Pope.
Aside from who is in it and a few other cursory details, I have no idea what this one is about.