The central murder case on HBO’s “The Night Of” isn’t the only puzzling element on the intriguing drama. One character’s malady has created an itch in viewers to learn more.
John Turturro’s streetwise lawyer Jack Stone suffers from a case of eczema that affects his feet so severely it overtakes every moment of his life outside of doing legal work. He wears sandals to air his feet out, joins a support group of other male eczema sufferers and consults multiple doctors for dubious remedies throughout the series.
The presence of eczema elicited more than one question during the Television Critics Association panel for “The Night Of” on Saturday to clarify its purpose — if there is one — on the show. Executive producer and writer Richard Price told reporters that BBC’s Peter Moffat suffers from eczema and therefore wrote it into “Criminal Justice,” the anthology series on which “The Night Of” is based.
“He wrote me an email saying it went away in the last few years but, guess what, it came back,” said Price. “When you have a malady that is so personal it becomes part of who you are. I always put asthma sprays in what I write, because I have asthma.” (Although it should be noted the asthma inhaler was also already present in “Criminal Justice.”)
As for eczema’s bigger meaning on the show, Price said that TV critics and fans have “picked up on [eczema] as a metaphor for the frustrations of finding a solution and the entire judicial system.”
Eczema on “The Night Of” has a bigger presence than it did in the original, though. “In the British series… I think there’s one shot of it,” series executive producer, director and writer Steven Zaillian added. “We ran with it. It gradually became a kind of symbol, it developed in a very natural way, it spoke to who this character was. We did a lot of research on it, too, and it became more and more interesting.”
The continued focus on eczema in the series has caused some to wonder if it might somehow be tied to a key revelation in Nasir’s (Riz Ahmed) murder case. Or perhaps, as one critic asked, “Will it end up a MacGuffin?”
Turturro, who made sure to point out that he does not personally have eczema, replied, “I take the Fifth.”
Thus far, there are no plans for a second season, although Zairian said, “There are ways of certainly kind of taking what it feels like and what it’s about and doing another season on another subject.”
“The Night Of” airs Sundays at 9pm on HBO.