The Night Manager: episode 3 review
After foiling a (staged) kidnap attempt, Jonathan Pine has infiltrated suspected arms dealer Richard Roper’s Mallorca home – but men as powerful as Roper do not achieve such heights without some amount of paranoia and Pine is closely observed.
Pine needs his wits to get information to Angela Burr – who recruited him to go undercover. His request to take Roper’s son into town is granted, but they are accompanied by suspicious armed chaperones. Clutching a tourist guide, the pregnant Burr passes unnoticed by the bodyguards allowing Pine to deliver a coded message warning that Roper’s right hand man Corkorian is a threat. To counter this Burr’s team create suspicion that Corkorian is alienating business partners with his drinking and flamboyant homosexuality. Roper’s Spanish contact has become wracked with guilt following his daughter’s suicide and the team exploit this to turn him and plant suspicions.
A second front of intrigue opens in Westminster’s corridors of power. Burr’s boss, senior civil servant Rex Mayhew, is keeping her operation (code named Limpet) secret from MI-6, but when he’s called into a meeting with the parliamentary under-secretary he’s pressured to drop the operation by MI-6 and the CIA. Mayhew refuses, but it seems clear that elements in the Intelligence community do not want Roper investigated.
Pine is moving closer to Roper’s girlfriend Jed. This is a dangerous flirtation and Jed also has secrets to keep. Investigating Roper’s office, Pine discovers a blond hair suggesting she is also collecting information on the operation despite her earlier insistence that she has no interest in Roper’s business. The question of why and for whom is left frustratingly unanswered.
This episode saw Pine move from the fringes into the heart of Roper’s operation through guile and manipulation. In kicking Corkorian out of the nest, a potentially deadly enemy has been set up. It is further hinted that Roper’s arms deal may in fact be unofficially backed from within the British establishment. If MI-6 become aware of the identity of Burr’s inside man, things are likely to get very difficult for Pine.
As the reptilian but charming Roper, Hugh Laurie got more screen time this episode. Starring in the US series House moved Laurie away from purely comic roles but The Night Manager positively buries such associations. Laurie was particularly terrific as Roper when explaining his nihilistic worldview: “children grow up thinking the adult world is ordered, rational, fit for purpose. It’s crap. Becoming a man is realising that it’s all rotten. Realising how to celebrate that rottenness, that’s freedom”. The speech was laced with threat, but we have yet to see Roper’s ruthlessness at close range.
Episode three ended with Pine as a new fixture in Roper’s organisation, but with the threat of Burr’s operation being blown open by establishment interests. Pine’s position is also made precarious by his relationship with Jed. How much does Roper actually know? Is his acceptance of Pine into the inner sanctum actually an example of keeping his enemies closer? Episode four cannot come quickly enough.
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