Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

John Stone continues to search for evidence in Naz's defense, but he's felled by a raven named Crowe

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July 25, 2016 at 02:19 AM EDT

What is a dark crate?

That might be the biggest mystery in this third hour of The Night Of. The titles of both previous chapters have been allusions to enigmatic dialogue spoken in the episode. “The Beach” was where Andrea asked Naz to take her in his taxicab. “Subtle Beast” was John Stone’s description of Box. But what is a dark crate?

Is it another reference to Det. Box (Bill Camp), whose name is synonymous with crate and whose motives are perhaps a bit on the dark side? Or is it a reference to Rikers Island, the dimly lit horror house where Naz has been sent to await trial for murder? Or is it a reference to the cardboard box that John uses to bring Andrea’s cat to the shelter? The orange feline is transferred into, quite literally, a black crate. Or should we drop the “c” and interpret the title as “A Dark Rate,” which might summarize the pro-bono arrangement that Naz’s new lawyer has made with his parents?

But no, the title literally refers to this:

That’s a slab of veal held in the hands of Freddy Knight (HBO veteran Michael K. Williams of The Wire and Boardwalk Empire), a former boxer now incarcerated at Rikers for violent crimes. He’s the unofficial pope of the prison, as evidenced by the mighty close relationship he has with the guards. That includes having sex with one and receiving goods from another, whose family in Brooklyn he promises to protect, sort of via the old “Nice house, shame if something were to happen to it” technique.

It’s that guard who brings Freddy the veal, and Freddy says this to Naz about it:

“See, the reason it feels like silk is because from the day it’s born they keep it in a dark crate. So small it can’t even turn around. And it stays there, half blind in the dark, drinking baby formula, waiting to die.”

Freddy is maybe being a little melodramatic — or maybe not, since the chances of Naz surviving in the wild west of Rikers is increasingly in doubt. He’s a Pakistani Muslim, who everybody thinks is Arab, accused of raping and stabbing a white girl 22 times. So as we can see from how the episode ends, with Naz’s bed having bit lit on fire, that he’s not liable to last long without Freddy’s offer of protection.

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The jailhouse scenes are thick with a jungle-like sense of foreboding, though there’s also a feeling like we’ve been here before. Notably, in HBO’s own Oz. This episode is undoubtedly stronger in the scenes that take place on the outside — and most of all with the introduction of these two new characters.

NEXT: Crowe flies in to knock over Stone

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