So this is the story all about how Jonathan Pine’s life got flipped, turned upside-down, and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there. I’ll tell you how he became a trusted member of Richard Roper’s inner circle.
Okay, so that wasn’t as cool as it sounded in my head, but you get the idea.
After bringing us into the world of spies, arms dealers, and the surprisingly small world of international luxury hotels, The Night Manager uses the second episode to explain just how a guy who checked Richard Roper into a hotel that one time becomes trusted enough to do some damage to his criminal outfit.
And boy, does Pine have a long way to go! But since this is a le Carré story, his journey into the good graces of Roper is meticulous and meaty. It’s one of the author’s strengths — relishing in the process of something and watching someone in an extraordinary circumstance work — and in The Night Manager, we essentially get an entire episode dedicated to this aspect of his style.
But before all of that, the episode begins in quite the unexpected place.
The hour kicks off with Jed (Elizabeth Debicki) having a real tough time, set to a Nina Simone song. But who hasn’t been there before? It’s just your typical afternoon of putting on lingerie and chatting with dear old mom. Oh, but there was the apparent prescription pill abuse and that thing with her mother calling her a “whore.” That was rough.
Joking aside, this bit of character development is a direct effect of the adaptation process, which brought the story of The Night Manager into the 21st century, turned Burr into a woman, and beefed up Jed’s role. Le Carré doesn’t have the best track record with women — mostly due to the times in which he was writing and the professionals he focused on — and this depth is ultimately turning the television retelling of the novel into something richer.
This is obviously much easier to do with someone like Elizabeth Debicki in the role. The actress, who was in The Great Gatsby and will be in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, so quickly transforms Jed from nudity-inclined arm candy to a tragic, real human being with a single look. It’s actually ludicrous how quickly Debicki and director Susanne Bier add depth to a archetype so often discarded by the genre that you have to wonder how all of the other modern examples of “male genres” justify such thin female characters.
With the call from her resentful mother and reminder of her abandoned child behind her, Jed heads downstairs to join the rest of the party at Roper’s Mallorca lair, which is a pretty clear sign that this guy is seriously evil. Who else has a lair? And if you need further proof, that pronunciation of paella should do it.
NEXT: Meet Jack Lindon