The momentum has definitely hit new heights as we hit the mid-way point of the Beeb's latest drama series.
Warning: Spoilers ahead. Please read at your own discretion.
After something of a slow-building opener, the BBC’s latest drama series, The Night Manager, is finally beginning to reach its peak; ratcheting up the tension and eliciting some stellar performances from the main cast.
After agreeing to take part in Burr’s sting operation to bring down Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie), Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) abandons his respectable post as a Zurich Night Manager and seeks to obtain a new criminal persona, worthy of Roper’s attention and trust. Travelling to Roper’s illicit Majorca resort, Pine initiates the operation by ‘saving’ Roper’s young son from an organised abduction. Though under the suspicion of some of Roper’s closest associates – most notably his obnoxious aide, Corkoran (Tom Hollander) – Pine manages to infiltrate the inner circle of “the worst man in the world,” and convince him of his worth as an ally. However, with treacherous government officials starting to close in on the operation, it seems as though there’s only a matter of time before Pine’s motives are discovered.
Unlike the opening episode, which gave mostly exposition, the second and third episodes have really hit the ground running – bringing us straight into the heart of the action, before employing short flashbacks to add intricate details to Burr’s complicated plot. This constant inter-dispersing of time and setting makes for an intense watch, that perfectly exemplifies the mystery and espionage at the centre of John Le Carré’s plot. The cinematography is also wonderfully crisp; capturing the natural beauty of some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes, including the iridescent Swiss Alps and the warm orange glow of the Majorca sunset.
And naturally, over the course of the last two episodes, the series’ all-star cast have continued to prove their worth, adding depth and gravitas to each of their characters. Tom Hiddleston’s leading performance has only intensified as the series has progressed. Though he still maintains the charm and eloquence of a would-be Bond, the sincere commitment that Hiddleston gives to the aggressively evolving character of Pine is deeply engaging and fascinating to watch. True to the commands given to Pine by Olivia Colman’s Burr (see below), Hiddleston embraces the same dark, animalistic nature that makes his infamous turn as Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so great.
“There is half a psychopath lurking in there, Jonathan. I want you to find him and stick to him. There is no right or wrong for you down there. Don’t give anyone an inch. Anyone who pisses you off, you smack ’em. Anyone crosses you, god help them. I want you to scare the shit out of everyone, and that includes me.”
Olivia Colman remains to be a powerful female presence, subversive of traditional expectations, while Hugh Laurie’s villainous depiction of Roper has also manifested into something intensely enjoyable. Despite his chops as a comedy actor, Laurie proves to make a mean and complexly layered antagonist, who is more than capable of spitting out a menacing threat or two (“If you step out of line… I’ll make you howl for your Mother.”) Similarly, Elizabeth Debicki’s Jed has also taken a more interesting turn since we last saw her; having kept a few secrets of her own. Meanwhile, Tom Hollander proves to be relentlessly enjoyable in his depiction of “Corky” Corkoran, whose shrewd comments to Pine are as maniacally twisted as they are amusing.
With the tension rising and things heating up in more ways that one (watch the video below and you’ll see what I mean), The Night Manager continues to be an enthralling highlight on the Sunday night schedule.
The Night Manager airs on Sundays at 9pm on BBC One and BBC One HD.