RECAP & REVIEW: The Night Manager – Episode 6

So what happened?

After being forced to endure a disciplinary meeting where she’s rebuked by Felix (Vanden) and Halo (Dromgoole) for her use of incorrect intelligence, which led to US troops wrongly being used to search aid vehicles on the Turkish/Syrian border, and also where she refused to give up either her source (Palfrey) or her mole in Roper’s operation (Pine), Burr’s whole department is shut down. Then, just as all seems to be lost, she receives a cryptic call from her asset informing her that he and Roper are in Cairo in the very hotel this whole thing started in. Flying out to meet him with her American colleague, Steadman, and after re-acquainting themselves with a warm hug, Colman’s character tells Pine that because of her non-existent resources and back up she can’t guarantee that she can pull him out safely should things go wrong. Insisting that he was only ‘living half a life’ before he began working for her, he resumes his cover and goes along with the rest of Roper’s entourage to meet with their buyers, the Hamid family, amongst them Freddie, who was responsible for Sophie’s death years earlier. Seemingly going unrecognised by him, Pine helps complete the first half of the deal by facilitating the transfer of the first £300 million into the Trade Pass account under his alter ego and CEO of the company, Andrew Birch, in the understanding that the second instalment will be transferred to them once the weapons have been safely handed over. Unbeknownst to Roper, however, his protégé transfers the money over to a private account, and gets Jed to spy on his boss when he’s placing the certification of the deal in the safe in their hotel room so the code can be used to retrieve it.

The Night Manager
Roper (Hugh Laurie) celebrating at the casino after they completed the first part of the arms deal.

In order to celebrate the receipt of the first half of their ill-gotten gains, Sandy insists Roper, Jed, Pine, Freddie and his wife Caroline, (who has been forced back into the fold on the proviso that she reports back on Roper’s girlfriend’s movements and conversations, or risk not seeing her children again),  go with him to a local casino. Once there, and having gleaned the code from his lover when she covertly puts chips down on corresponding roulette numbers, the young spy gives the all clear for Burr to enter her nemesis’ hotel room and recover the document from the safe, which she eventually manages to do after narrowly avoiding one of  the arms dealer’s henchmen. With the proof she needed of the deal taking place, she’s able to turn the thumbscrews on Dromgoole and get him to turn his back on Roper should he need his help in the future. Back at the casino, Pine keeps plying Freddie with alcohol and drugs he slips into his drink, ensuring that his resulting behaviour will spur his business partner to send him home and obligingly he offers to take the Egyptian criminal back to the exclusive pad where they shook on the deal. It’s there where, once he’s ascertained that nobody will interrupt them, Hiddleston’s character sets about revealing himself as the night manager all those years ago and how he knows he was at least partially responsible for Sophie’s death. Once he gets him to admit his guilt, Pine drowns Freddie in the pool and heads back to the hotel, organising a car for himself and meeting up with Youssef (Amir El-Masry) and his ‘well-connected’ brother, further to an earlier meeting with his old friend and the now head chef at the Nefertiti hotel. Under the guise of Birch, he’s able to go to the secured area where the weapons are being held, and by hiding his passengers, he’s afforded the opportunity to let them out to do what we later find out is plant explosives amongst the cargo that is due to be handed over the following day, and then memorise the number they give him to detonate the bombs.

In the meantime, Jed’s obvious distress when Pine left with Freddie Hamid makes her boyfriend even more suspicious that he’s been taken for a ride by ‘the young Prince’. Having Frisky beat her and push her head under the water in the bathtub whilst he calmly sips coffee just a room away in their hotel suite, she nevertheless doesn’t crack under the torture, but the damage has already been done. Luring the mole to the place they intend to hand over the weapons, Roper has one of his men force Pine into one of the empty buildings and assaults him, then waxes lyrical about how he finds it hard to trust people in his line of work, how he should have listened to Corky and how he’ll ‘deal with him’ after they’ve used him to authorise the second payment from his Egyptian buyers. From his vantage point of a car outside the enclosure, Steadman sees the gun pointed at Burr’s asset and realises both their covers have been blown, spurring him to frantically call his friend and colleague just before Frisky, using Jed as a human shield, sets about entering her hotel room with the intention of murdering her. The warning gives her the upper hand though, and after encouraging Roper’s girlfriend to break free from the henchman’s clutches, she shoots him in the leg and gives them the breathing space to escape.

The Night Manager
Freddie Hamid (David Avery) meets a sticky end in the finale.

Aware that Pine is still needed in his capacity as Birch because of the bank’s requirement for a retinal scan to secure the transaction, Roper puts on a front for Barghati and encourages his betrayer to do the same. After the Egyptian middle man has his men look over the cargo and approve it, he gives the go ahead for the trucks to be driven away to their destination, just as Pine is implored to jump through the necessary hoops with a mobile phone to authorise the payment. Instead he dials the number Youssef’s brother gave to him, and with Roper and Langbourne looking on in horror as the drivers swiftly bail from the trucks, huge explosions engulf their cargo. With Barghati insisting that he wants his clients’ money back, Sandy attempts to wire it back to them, but soon realises that the account is empty, leaving Roper to begrudgingly admire the audacity of Pine’s rouse, before launching into a vicious, racist tirade at his buyers when they continue to insist on having their money reimbursed immediately. After appearing to make Barghati back down, he agrees to meet them back at the hotel in an hour and then pulls a gun on the younger man, prompting Pine to promise he’ll wire the money back to him if he lets Jed go. Heading back to the hotel, the arch-villain swiftly makes his way to his suite where he’s met by a triumphant Burr, who tells her agent that the young woman is safe and then explains that she’s finally checkmated Roper years after she first started to put the pieces together to bring him down. Not entirely convinced that he’s been routed by a woman from Bermondsey, he puts in a call to Dromgoole, who has Galt answer and feign no knowledge of his former co-conspirator, which finally alerts him to the possibility that he may be in some real difficulty. Nevertheless, it’s not until the Egyptian police march him into a van and then give way to Barghati’s men, who then proceed to drive off with him, that Roper finally realises it’s game over for him. As the series draws to a close Jed is about to fly back to the U.S. to get to know her son again with the added promise that her new boyfriend will follow her in a few weeks, and the newly, obscenely rich Pine appears to have the World at his feet.

 The Verdict?

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Danielle: The biggest problem with The Night Manager was the central conceit that Richard Roper was not only the worst man in the World, but also the most idiotic. In the end he richly deserved his comeuppance, not just because his bank accounts continued to swell at the expense of the innocent lives his arms deals took away, but also because of his downright stupidity at every turn regarding Pine. In that sense, I’m pleased they changed the ending of the novel so that he didn’t get away scot-free. On the other hand, it might have redeemed him slightly in the ‘baddie stakes’ had he actually shown the capacity to get himself out of this fine mess.  I suppose there is an argument to be made that deep down Roper wanted to be caught, but in reality we saw little evidence of this in his characterisation, and it remains a fatal flaw in the narrative. I’m not even 100% sure that the reasoning behind Pine’s heroism; his ‘love’ for Sophie and his disgust that his country’s name is tarnished by the likes of Roper and Dromgoole, is entirely convincing, or indeed if he’s the romantic hero that the writer and director want us to believe he is, because that is undoubtedly what they want us to believe. There was something deeply sociopathic about the cool, calm and collected way he planned and executed Freddie Hamid’s demise, and Corky’s for that matter in the previous episode, even if it was mitigated by their heinous actions. Are we really expected to believe that Jed would be entirely OK with her new beau having murdered her ‘friend’? Of course we are! She’s been a beautiful adornment, rather than a three-dimensional human being throughout the show, and a further symptom of the fact that characterisation has consistently been sacrificed for the sake of driving the plot forward throughout the six week run.

Don’t get me wrong, there were things to like about the finale, specifically the showdown between Burr and Roper. I enjoyed how jarringly ordinary and low-key it seemed as two people from very different Worlds finally collided, but it wasn’t nearly long enough. It was also entertaining to see any semblance of civility disappear from the arms dealer once he realised Pine had screwed him over, and to witness all the vitriolic entitlement pour out in a tirade that betrayed the racist, pro-colonial world view that bubbled under the surface. Props to Hugh Laurie for that. You play an irredeemable b*stard pretty darn well, in spite of that regrettable, ‘plummier than the Queen’ accent choice. Despite my personal disappointment at this show’s failures, I’m under no illusion that it’s likely to attract attention from BAFTA and Emmy voters. That attention will be warranted in some cases, particularly Olivia Colman’s performance and Susanne Bier’s direction, which were both consistently great. Additionally, and if nothing else, The Night Manager has stimulated some timely debate about the destructive, underhand nature of arms dealing, which is particularly pertinent in our current climate.

The Night Manager
Roper insulting Barghati (Nasser Memarzia) as Pine (Tom Hiddleston) looks on: should the villain of the piece have been allowed to escape as he does in the book, or was it right for him to apparently meet a brutal end?

Marieke: “I still hope Roper will pull the rug in the finale showing he knew it all along, proving he really is that scary mastermind. It will be the only thing making it worth having watched the rest of the show.” Those were my words last week. It is still funny how the most dangerous man in the world was also the most gullible, naive person in the world. There was no pulling the rug, instead the whole scenario had already been knitted into that rug which unfolded the way it was expected to unfold. It’s still hard to buy the level of Roper’s naivety, as if Corky was the one person actually making him dangerous by keeping his judgement in check. How could Roper not have believed his little henchman? When Roper had Jed tortured, he still had to ask who her accomplice was. All the eye sexing in the casino aside, it still took him too long to figure it out. How could he not have seen the bond Pine and Jed were forming before it was too late? Pine truly had him under a spell. It was Roper’s exclamation, when he realised he had been conned, which said it all: ‘Oh you beauty!’. He realised that Pine was the ‘star’ he thought and hoped was; he just wasn’t on the same side. Roper’s characterisation was easily the worst part of The Night Manager, making it hard to go with the story flow. Laurie did the best he could with the material, but the thought which kept occurring was that one of his other characters, a certain doctor, would have called him an idiot non-stop.

Burr confronting Roper was a scene which was worth the wait though. Bermondsey trumps ‘the World’s most dangerous man’. However, it was unbelievable that Burr, who had made it her life’s work to catch Roper, preferred to have the Egyptians take off with Roper, rather than for justice to be served. I guess it will leave the door open for him to escape for the follow up the BBC is planning (please don’t). It was nice to see how Pine had put Roper in a corner. He had become untouchable at that point. The Night Manager is often made out to be Hiddleston’s audition for the new Bond. Unless they will be going for emo Bond looking like a rabbit in the headlights, I am not seeing it. Pine wasn’t a ruthless spy. He was just saving his own skin whilst unwittingly becoming involved some adventures and action in the meantime. In the end, this adaptation did not work properly, as the story hasn’t aged well and was far too predictable. The scenery was beautiful and the acting good (enough), but both could not save the show. Even though arms races and terrorism are today’s hot topics, those involved did not manage to make it feel pressing and current. Here’s hoping The Night Manager will be put to sleep.

So what did you think? Let us know in the comments…

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