April 19, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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The Night Manager Episode One

Part One.

John le Carre is a master of the spy novel, and his work often depicts intelligent characters trying to figure out what’s going on involving some sort of international espionage.  It’s dirty, cerebral work involving unsavory characters and protagonists who need to skirt various levels of morality to get the job done.

AMC and the BBC adapted one of his works to The Night Manager, and fortunately it’s more than Loki vs. Dr. House.

I don’t really want to say too much just yet.  The mini-series opens in the streets of Cairo in the middle of the Arab Spring just as the change in power was occurring.  Night manager of a local high-class hotel Jonathan Pine is very casually walking to work through the riotous commotion that is the streets of Cairo.  He seems largely unphased even as people fire AK-47s into the air.  He arrives at his job a few hours early and immediately sets to work doing what he does.  He’s incredibly professional, suave, and well-dressed.

Actually, if Hiddleston ever needed it, The Night Manager would probably make an excellent audition reel for the James Bond series.  He’s well-dressed, sophisticated, and even a bit seductive.  From what little I know of the series, the only thing Pine doesn’t have in common with Bond is that Pine isn’t much of a fighter.  That’s fine, actually.  Le Carre’s spies get more done with their wits and their brains than their brawn.  Hiddleston’s natural onscreen charm works wonders for this man who discovers wrongdoing afoot and feels it is his duty as a good Englishman to report it to the local embassy and see what happens.  If anything, Pine is a better man than Bond.  I’ve rarely seen Bond cry, and never really seen him vomit in disgust as Pine does in this first episode.

What happens is a woman he’d come to care for ends up dead, and the local police are covering it up.

What happened?  Pine ran some copies for a woman who was mistress to a local crime lord/arms dealer.  The copies included a list of weapons, some of them chemical in nature, being sold illegally by one Richard Roper (Laurie).  Roper is another Englishman, a wealthy and well-connected one that has a reputation for humanitarian work with refugees.

As it is, we see a lot more of Pine than we do of Roper.  Years after the initial death, Pine is now the night manager for a Swiss hotel when Roper and his entourage arrive to stay for a while.  Again, Roper passes some information along, but this time the woman in charge of an underfunded spy agency within the British government comes to see Pine personally, looking to recruit him to the agency to bring Roper down.

And that’s where episode one ends.  Pine is a very decent man with some potentially useful skills being drawn into a game of spy craft a bit against his will, but his conscience won’t let him sit this out.  I’m looking forward to the next five parts.