Airtime: Tuesdays at 10PM on AMC
Episode: Season 1, Episode 2 (S01E2)
Tweetable Takeaway: Pine enters the lion’s den on the #TheNightManager
This week’s episode of THE NIGHT MANAGER sets up a delicious game of cat and mouse. Pine has moved into the Roper compound, having assumed a criminal identity. As Angela Burr puts it, he’s now “the second worst man in the world”. How did we get here? Well, the episode opens with a brilliant scene that ratchets up the suspense, then flashes back six months to show us how the seeds for it were laid.
Roper, his associates, Jed, and his young son Danny are enjoying a meal in Mallorca, Spain, when armed assailants enter, ostensibly to rob the place, but they pull a gun on Danny, then decide to kidnap him. From the cool, calm, collected way Roper reacts to the armed gunmen, this isn’t the first time he’s been in a situation like this. As we pull away from the tense scene, we see Pine peering out between the curtains.
We then go back to Zermatt, where Burr convinces Pine to go undercover and infiltrate Roper’s inner circle, playing on his patriotism, his relationship with his father, a soldier killed in Northern Ireland, and his feelings of guilt surrounding Samira’s murder. Next step is getting him a criminal identity, so Roper accepts him as a kindred spirit. He steals from the hotel safe, and Burr sets him up in Devon under the alias Jack Lindon, where he establishes a reputation by taking over local drug dealers’ turf and sleeping with his landlord, a sweet country girl Marilyn, then staging a murder. He usurps Marilyn’s ex’s identity, Thomas Quince, and takes off on a boat.
Burr establishes his reliability by interviewing Marilyn to make sure that Pine told her nothing about his real identity. She recruits an American agent, Joel Steadman (David Harewood), to help her with her plans. She’s clearly obsessed with catching Roper, but Steadman brings up some interesting points about policy in a speech to MI6—is it better to take down a bad guy, or use him to reach the next one?
The twist here is that the attempted kidnapping in Mallorca was staged by Burr and MI6, so that Pine could save the day and ingratiate himself with Roper. He’s at the restaurant, working as a sous-chef, waiting to jump in and rescue Danny. However, in order to make it more real, he breaks the arm of one of his fellow agents, prompting the other to bash his face in with a pan. Roper and his associates find him, bloodied and nearly dead on the beach. Roper decides to take him back to his compound, calling in the best doctors to take care of the man who saved his son’s life.
This part didn’t exactly ring true to me, as why would someone as composed and in control as Roper invite a stranger into his house? He could have just sent him to the best hospital and paid for his medical care. But I suppose it was curiosity. He recognizes “Thomas Quince” as Jonathan Pine immediately. It’s a mighty big coincidence that the night manager from his hotel in Zermatt would be working as a chef in his restaurant in Mallorca. Indeed, Roper has his right hand man Corcoran (Tom Hollander) do a full background check on Pine. He finds his criminal background, but is suspicious of his intentions. Once Burr gets confirmation that Pine is still alive, she puts out a trumped up warrant for his arrest, furthering his criminal credibility.
Let’s talk about Jed a bit. At the top of the episode, she is seen talking on the phone to her mother, but she seems freaked out to be speaking to her at all. She learns that someone named Billy doesn’t ask about her anymore. Is Billy a child she left behind to be with Roper? She’s clearly isolated and afraid in her own marriage, which could make her a good ally for Pine. Of course, they’re probably going to sleep together at one point. Two good-looking people in close proximity on television in this type of story invariably do.
Also, we still haven’t seen Roper do anything villainous yet, although he displays his naked greed in a talk to some unknown group of people, where he admits that his humanitarian efforts are just a ploy to gain the locals’ support in areas where he wants to do business. I bet that when we finally do, it’s going to be explosive.
Jennifer Trofa 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.
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Jennifer Trofa | Contributor