Previously, on The Night Manager: “Episode 3”
I was worried this episode was going to be a little slow because it begins heavy on the budding “romance” between Jonathan Pine and Jed Marshall, but I was proven the fool once more when everyone turned their intensity over 9,000.
Back in the first episode, Jonathan Pine was this random night manager at a hotel in Cairo who was clearly longing to be more than that–not that there’s anything wrong with being the night manager of a luxury hotel, especially one as skilled at it as Pine clearly was. Over the next two episodes, though, we saw Pine kind of meander through the motions of becoming a spy (“Episode 2“) and then blossom fully, once in the presence of his target, Richard Roper (“Episode 3”). Well, now Jonathan Pine has reached his final form: Andrew Birch. You remember when he broke that dude’s arm to “Make it look real”? Well, he’s even more dedicated to this role now; you could say Jonathan Pine is the Daniel Day-Lewis of spies.
In this episode, not only is Jonathan Pine playing both sides of the field, but he’s coaching both teams, too! In every moment, Pine excels in every way imaginable. Frankly, it would be ridiculous, if not for the fabulous performances of Tom Hiddleston, (Pine) the suave man about town who can do no wrong; Hugh Laurie, (Roper) the smitten mastermind who seems too proud of himself for his “find” to question it; and Tom Hollander, (Corky) the faithful servant who has been cast aside like an old, raggedy mop. That mop is still absorbent as hell, though, because it is positively dripping with jealousy.
For nearly the entire 80 minutes, Tom Hollander was going to be the “star” of this episode for me. The amount of shade he casts over Hiddleston’s Pine is delicious. One scene in particular sees Corky, Hollander’s character, deliver a mock toast meant to throw Pine and Jed’s “romance” under the bus, but it does nothing more than betray his own scorned feelings about Roper’s attention being paid to Pine. Hollander plays the wounded animal anger perfectly.
So, yes, Hollander was going to be the standout, and he still is one of them here; this episode has several moments where each actor is provided the chance to really shine: from Corky’s tantrum, to Pine going full “You need me on that wall!” on the phone, it’s all fantastic. However, the single best scene in this episode may just be the best of the miniseries, so far. It comes from Olivia Colman’s Angela Burr.
We’ve seen Burr doggedly pursue her case against Richard Roper. It’s an obsession–one that has led to this series even existing because she recruited the night manager of a hotel as a spy–and it is clearly driving her every action, even as she is also dealing with a pregnancy. She wants so badly to stop Richard Roper, but why? Yeah, he’s a criminal, and we’ve seen him turn the “affable Dickie Roper” character on and off, but even when it’s off, he doesn’t seem all that nasty. Last week, we saw what was, at the time, the realest version of him, but even that was just someone who seemed like a cunning businessman. Well, in what I consider a brilliant storytelling move, we have now seen that absolutely real Richard Roper, and he was brought to life on the face of Olivia Colman. In one terrifically acted, written, and directed scene, Angela Burr laid out exactly why she is so determined to stop Roper, and that moment reveals everything we need to know about his true identity.
Just as that is not the only well-acted scene in the episode, it’s not the only well-directed one, either. Susanne Bier continues to shine, and this episode does it with a hell of a lot of establishing shots; there are more establishing shots in this episode than I can recall in all three of the preceding episodes combined. At one point, I was expecting “Queens” to pop up and introduce me to the world of Spider-Man; that’s how many establishing shots there are here. These shots are used well, too, because this is one of the more “bounce around to every location” episodes, and you need those shots to let you know where the hell you are.
Oh, and while Corky is playing Woody to Pine’s Buzz Lightyear, MI6 is imploding in on itself a little bit. This spy story is beginning to look like it’s going to be Pine doing all the work, even as everyone he works for is trying to stop him.
The Night Manager - Episode 4
With a slow beginning, this episode builds to an outstanding set of performances, as both Tom Hollander and Olivia Colman manage to outshine even the terrific acting of both Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie.