THE NIGHT MANAGER Review: “Episode One”


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Airtime: Tuesdays at 10PM on AMC
Episode: Season 1, Episode 1 (S01E1)


Tweetable Takeaway: Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie are perfectly matched on #TheNightManager  

makes its stateside debut tonight on AMC, after airing in the UK on BBC to sky-high ratings. With the combined star power of Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie, gorgeous locations and cinematography (episodes reportedly cost BBC $4 million each), and a sexy, suspenseful pilot, it’s a solid bet that it will enjoy similar success among American audiences.

The James Bond comparisons are inevitable, down to the stylish opening credits, although Tom Hiddleston’s Jonathan Pine doesn’t start off as a spy. He’s ex-army, but currently works as the night manager at a grand hotel in the center of Cairo. In a departure from the John le Carré novel that serves as the miniseries’ source material, this takes place during the Arab Spring. Pine sleeps with the gorgeous Sophie (Aure Atika), the mistress of an arms dealer named Freddie Hamid. They’ve been working together as sort of amateur spies. Sophie/Samira (her real name) gives him a list of weapons that Hamid’s expecting, which Pine sends to a friend in MI6, thus foiling the plot to brutally repress the Arab Spring protests.


This seemingly noble act leads to Samira’s horrific, cold-blooded murder, which sets Pine off on a revenge mission against Laurie’s Richard Roper. Roper, a seemingly charming and well-respected British businessman, was the one selling weapons to Hamid, and although we don’t know whether he officially ordered Samira’s murder or not, he certainly is complicit in it. The episode jumps four years ahead, to the beautiful town of Zermatt in the Swiss Alps. Pine is suffering from flashbacks to Samira in Cairo when Roper himself strides into his new hotel.

Although the episode opens with a YouTube clip of him explaining his philanthropic work (but his company’s name is IRONLAST—they definitely sound sinister), Hugh Laurie doesn’t appear in person until about forty minutes in, making his arrival all that more exciting. It shifts the episode’s pace, adding a shot of adrenaline. Does Roper know who Pine is? Or is he just naturally suspicious? The scenes with the two of them have an electric chemistry that’s absolutely compelling to watch.

Both Laurie and Hiddleston have never been better. While he has the quintessential English charm, good looks, and impeccable body of Bond, Hiddleston’s Pine differs from 007 in the sense that he feels flawed. We aren’t completely sure that everything is going to work out for him. There’s a layer of vulnerability and maybe even weakness underneath the hardened exterior. Laurie exudes danger—you can tell that his aristocratic demeanor conceals a violent temperament. He’s cunning, threatening, and a lot of fun to watch.


If there’s one unflattering Bond comparison to be made, it’s the fact that most of the woman, particularly Samira and Roper’s blonde bombshell wife Jed (Elizabeth Debicki), in this episode feel like Bond girls—sexy yet empty, functioning more as plot devices than human beings. The one exception to this is Angela Burr (Olivia Coleman), Pine’s handler in the British government, using him to infiltrate Roper’s inner circle. In Le Carré’s novel, Angela Burr was Leonard Burr. Making the character female was a smart choice, as although Coleman is used the least in the pilot, she’s an excellent actress, perhaps best known for her BAFTA Best Actress winning role of DS Ellie Miller in Broadchurch. I’m eager to see her character grow as the story progresses.

The episode ends with Pine giving Angela SIM cards he stole from Roper’s room. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to bring Roper and his international arms dealing cartel to justice. This episode was the first of the six-part series, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.



lives for two things: spreading the “Superstore” gospel and themed “Law & Order: SVU” marathons on USA. When she’s not binge-watching her favorite shows, she’s reading any book she can get her hands on.

Twitter: @jtrof

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