So what happened?
Having been welcomed with open arms into Roper’s operation, Pine, under his new pseudonym Andrew Birch, is expected to sing for his supper and morph into his affable, clean-cut alter-ego so that the company he became the CEO of, Trade Pass, can appear as legitimate as possible. The arms dealer even goes so far as to order his tailor to the Mallorcan mansion to get his young protégé suited and booted in a manner that would befit someone in possession of a £300 million fortune, the amount he’s laundering through ‘Birch’s’ accounts so that the money used in the upcoming deal can’t be traced back to him. ‘Corky’ continues to be suspicious of Hiddleston’s character however and once again threatens him when he spots Jed wandering back from his cottage after a late night rendezvous that involved them trying to figure each other out and giving in to their burgeoning attraction with an ill-advised kiss while Roper was away on a business trip. Further annoyed when his increasingly estranged boss and friend tells him he’ll be staying at home with his girlfriend whilst he and the new golden boy will be jetting off to do the deal, the angry, drunk henchman makes a scene at the restaurant the entourage is frequenting, annoying other patrons, groping Pine and all but explicitly telling Roper that he’s been made a fool of by the newcomer. It backfires though when the former night manager uses all the charm he used to utilise in his last line of work, offering to pay for the meals of those Corcoran was rude to and generally smoothing things over, further impressing his new employer with his cool, calm and collected demeanour. Little does the billionaire know that he should be wary of his newest recruit, not only because of his mission to help bring him down, but also because of the tryst he and his girlfriend have in his hotel room later that evening.
In the meantime Burr has also been busy, catching up with Apostol in Madrid and using the leverage she has over him to get him to tell her what he knows about the documents Pine photographed in Roper’s office and sent to her, only leaving her with the mystery of who the consultants ‘Halo’ and ‘Felix’ are. Having a good idea about who at least one of them could be, she sends word for her former colleague Palfrey to come and meet her. Sensing that he’s involved and appealing to his better nature, as well as informing him what a corruption charge could do to not only his career, but his life in general, she gets him to admit that Dromgoole is Halo and sends Steadman to recover the documents he leaks to them detailing theirs and Galt’s involvement in acquiring MoD certified weapons for Roper. So far, so good. Even Rex Mayhew, her only real ally in London, seems to be upping the ante a little after narrowly escaping the dangerous driving of three predictably inconspicuous, grey vans whilst on his bike on his way to work. Determined he won’t be intimidated by his ‘friends’ at the River House, he first diverts even more funds to Burr’s ‘Operation Limpet’, and then informs her she can hand-pick even more people for her team after she tells him about the intel she’s gathered from Apostol and Palfrey. However things start to go wrong when The Permanent Secretary, Barbara Vanden, comes into his office to tell him to remove Burr from her post, and he offers up some of the details of the progress she’s been making, including the annotated documents that the Spanish accountant helped to clarify. Mayhew only realises his mistake when a panicked Dromgoole makes a call to Roper about the ‘traitor’ in their midst and Steadman goes to Apostol’s home only to find he and his girlfriend have been killed, indicating that Vanden is almost certainly ‘Felix’.
In spite of his readiness to have Apostol murdered, it does cause a headache for Roper who is forced to conscript another lawyer to oversee the deal when he, Pine and Langbourne fly out to Istanbul. The newly deceased’s replacement is reticent to help at first, initially refusing to sign the papers they need him to until he knows the finer details of what’s going on, and only changing his mind when Frisky flashes his gun and his client ‘Birch’ offers him a briefcase full of cash. With the money in place, they head out to the docks, check out the ‘agricultural equipment’ that has been brought into Turkey using shipping containers and Pine authorises the transaction, leaving him and Roper to converse about their new working relationship as the weapons are loaded onto trucks and driven away. The following morning, back at the hotel they’re staying at, a problem arises when members of Burr’s team intercept a call Jed made to Pine’s room in the middle of the night, spurring them to call him themselves and get him to meet them in another room. There he’s rebuked for his risky behaviour by involving himself with her, and over the phone his handler insists that he aborts the mission and leaves with her team. Furious that he’s been asked to pull out when he’s so close to nailing his target, he hatches a plan and convinces his boss that he’s spotted police watching them in the hotel. Forcing Roper to insist they all evacuate, Pine attempts to further convince him of his loyalty when he assaults one of the people Burr told him to leave with, and in doing so maintains his cover.
Our Fezzy Score:
Danielle: At last, three-quarters of the way through the series, The Night Manager finally appears to be firing on all cylinders and is showing signs of being the espionage drama I wanted it to be. The London based scenes especially stood out as ‘Halo’ and ‘Felix’ revealed themselves, and there began to be some more nuance in the characterisation of the villainous River House trio and their co-conspirator, Vanden. Dromgoole’s mini hissy fit complimented Corky’s meltdown too. It was also particularly nice to have a female baddie join the fold in order to give us some contrast with the rather bland, stock love interest with a predictably tragic past, Jed, who just couldn’t help falling into Pine’s arms and his hotel room this week. (I see the internet went insane over the sex scene and Hiddleston’s peachy rear-end. I was fairly unmoved by it, but then I suppose that’s what a steady diet of HBO shows does to your expectations.)
It’s Olivia Colman who once again stole the show here though with her captivating unveiling of why Burr is so intent on bringing Roper down: their differing reactions to the aftermath of a Sarin attack during a school sports day when she was posted in Iraq in 2003. Their polar reactions; her revulsion and disgust to the hideous loss of life on that day versus his sense of it being a business opportunity, seem to underline the fact the moral light and dark in this show emanate from Colman and Laurie’s characters respectively. Pine, on the other hand, is a much more ambiguous kettle of fish, and it’s hard to tell whether he refused Burr’s orders because he is too focused on bringing Roper to justice, too wrapped up in his feelings for Jed, or simply because his ‘boss’ is offering the kind of intoxicating lifestyle that can bring him over to the Dark Side. Only time, and the next two episodes, will tell.
Marieke: Olivia Colman cries: check.
Making Istanbul look like a good holiday destination: check.
Pine doing Jed: check.
Hiddleston bum: check.
Pine loving being Birch a little too much: check.
I can’t help feeling I’ve read the book this is based on even though I’m sure I haven’t. Nothing happens which makes my jaw drop (I think Hiddleston fans differ a bit here…). For a spy show there is little tension. We know Roper will get back at Pine for screwing Jed. We’re just waiting on when and how. She might even die, because it is that kind of show. The end of the episode did leave us with the question, does Pine likes being Birch too much, or did he basically pull the same stunt as he did in the kitchen, with less physical damage? The standout scene, without a doubt, was Burr explaining why she’s so obsessed with Roper. It gives her character more depth, especially the bit where the horror scenario she witnessed wasn’t Roper’s doing, but his inspiration. In light of this, it’s becoming increasing apparent Burr’s character is far more fleshed out than Pine’s. Is Sophie still his reason to do this? Hardly believable at this point now he has his eye on Jed. Apart from Burr, the storyline has been pretty shallow so far. I’m not sure if Colman can cry this show out of mediocrity. She might need to buy onions, rather than ice cream.
So what did you think? Let us know in the comments…