By Jessica Grey
The second installment of The Night Manager opens in Roper’s enclave in Mallorca, Spain with an intimate look at Jed (Richard Roper’s American lover) complete with a ridiculously un-awkward shower scene (I cannot be the only person who almost always gets shampoo in their eyes. I mean, really.) and a clearly unwanted call from her mother. Though short, the whole conversation is a trip through an emotional minefield. Then, as if the entire previous exchange didn’t hint at some intense backstory, Jed’s mother ends the conversation with: “Just remember one thing, honey: you’re nothing but a dirty whore.” Ouch! Just as Jed hangs up the phone, there is a knock at the door and we are introduced to Roper’s son, Danny, who is absolutely adorable.
As we meet Danny, we are introduced to a new, and decidedly less loathsome, side of Roper and his entourage: family life. Granted, it’s not the kind of family life most of us can relate to—what with the sprawling compound on a Mediterranean island and all—but it does serve to humanize Roper’s whole group, Jed in particular: she clearly adores Danny. The whole crew, children and all, heads out to dine at a picturesque restaurant on the island where we see more of the dynamics within the group, including some blatant overtones of marital strife and Danny’s first sip of champagne.
Even with private security surrounding the group, Danny wanders just far enough from the table to get snatched up by a gunman, who holds the boy at gunpoint while demanding money and jewelry from the group. The gunman and his partner discover that Roper and his entourage have little cash with them, so they take Danny, under the pretense that they will return him when they get the money. As the kidnappers make their getaway, one of them hears a noise in the shadows of the restaurant and demands to know who is there. For just a moment, we see Jonathan Pine staring out at the kidnappers, before we snap to a flashback.
We cut back to Jonathan and Angela’s meeting in progress, which happened six months prior. After the restaurant, they proceed to his living quarters, where Angela’s prodding clues us into some of Jonathan’s backstory: his father, now dead, has served in the same regiment that he had, working undercover in Belfast. She proceeds to ask him to work undercover for her to take down Roper and, in turn, she will provide him with a new name and a new life when the job is done.
The first order of business is to start mussing up Mr. Pine’s sparkling clean criminal record, so, before he joins Angela in London, he steals all the cash from the safe at the ritzy Zermatt Hotel. Meanwhile, Angela Burr starts working in London to create the villain that Jonathan will inhabit—creating a realistic criminal record and pulling in police officers to go along with the game, while trying to keep The River House (MI6 headquarters) out of the loop since she still doesn’t know who tipped Roper off all those years ago in Egypt. Reuniting in London, Angela prepares Jonathan for the road ahead: “there is half a psychopath lurking in there, Jonathan. I want you to find him and stick to him. … I want you to scare the shit out of everyone, and that includes me.”
The show jumps around in time a little more: this time, forward, to a bloody kitchen in a cottage in Devon and a police interview regarding the scene. We jump back again, just a hair, to Jonathan’s arrival in Devon. He rents the cottage under the name Jack Lindon and immediately starts laying the groundwork for his new criminal enterprise: drugs. He finds the local dealer and *ahem* persuades the dealer to accept that Jack is now his new supplier. Meanwhile, a fling with the landlady’s daughter provides him with an identity to steal.
Back in London, Angela continues to lay the groundwork for her side of the operation to infiltrate Roper’s inner circle. While still laying a false trail of a fizzling investigation to throw off MI6, she begins working with Joel Steadman, who runs an intelligence operation with the objective of going after Richard Roper. We jump back to Devon again as an agent from London brings Jonathan the paperwork for his new identity as “Tom Quince,” they take the opportunity to stage a convincing scene at the local pub over a delayed shipment of drugs, which, in turn, lays the ground work for the murder scene in the cottage the show teased viewers with prior.
As the show picks back up with the police interview of the landlady’s daughter, we see the groundwork Angela’s been laying for Jonathan’s criminal backstory take shape: “Did he ever mention his previous life? … Ever mention Switzerland?” “Does the name Jonathan Pine mean anything to you?” Then, we see Jonathan arriving at Mallorca.
Now the show snaps back to where we last saw the gunman making off with Danny Roper. The gunmen bust into the back room in which Jonathan is hiding and a fight ensues. After Jonathan has subdued one of the kidnappers, breaking his arm, he tells Danny to run to his mother. Once Danny has left, we find out that the scene is staged—the gunmen are intelligence agents—and that Jonathan has gone off script because “it has to look real.” The remaining agent, in turn, beats Jonathan to a pulp. When Danny is reunited with his father and his crew, he points to Jonathan—sprawled on the ground and bleeding—and says that he was the one who saved him.
The restaurant staff identifies Jonathan, who is barely conscious enough to utter “no police,” as their seasonal sous chef, Tom Quince, but Roper recognizes him from Switzerland. Roper convinces the restaurant staff to not call the police and arranges medical care for Jonathan. Once he is in stable enough condition, Pine is transported to Roper’s compound to finish convalescing, during which time we see Danny coming to Pine to thank him for saving his life and then, super adorably, read to Jonathan about squid. Then, not so adorably, Corky and one of Roper’s security dudes threaten him with all sorts of unpleasant things, including “the fizzy drink treatment,” which probably sounds a lot more fun without the malevolent context. We end the episode with Roper pulling the blankets up around a playing-possum Pine and, not at all comfortingly, saying, “You sleep now. Tomorrow we’ll find out who you really are.” Eeek!
I really loved that this episode really started fleshing out the main players in the story. We see Roper, still a pretty nasty bad guy, as a caring father and we see some of the internal life of Jed, who in the last episode seemed rather superficial and aloof. We see Jonathan starting to inhabit some of the darker aspects of himself and we see some of Angela’s fear alongside her determination. I also really enjoyed Angela’s nervous snarkiness, mostly because I definitely do the same kind of thing. And I loved Danny; I mean, how cute is that kid?! Plus, he’s just a little sweetheart.
I am very curious to see if and how Jonathan manages to convince Roper and his gang, especially Corky, to trust him and to see if Angela and Joel can manage to keep the operation off of MI6’s radar. Also, is it just me, or does there seem to be a little more history between Angela and Joel than just friendliness between colleagues? I am also really anxious to find out more about Jed, because—holy emotional toxicity, Batman!—that conversation with her mother has made me really curious about what she left back home in the States.