In the best episode yet, Burr explains her nickname for Richard Roper, and it's pretty messed up
Here I was thinking that tonight’s Night Manager would be just another solid hour of a pretty great spy miniseries, but I was wrong. From the quickly escalating plot to Olivia Colman’s powerhouse performance, the fourth episode of AMC’s le Carre adaptation was next level stuff, building off of a solid framework provided by the first half and setting the stage for an end game. It’s in an episode like this that we get to reap the benefits of the limited series format. Characters are evolving, actions have consequences, and the stakes are very, very high.
Andrew Birch is quickly moving up in the world. It’s taken only a matter of days for the straw man to pop into existence on passports and charge cards to owning a company worth $300 million. Not bad! And now he’s got the suits to match the new high profile. That’s a good thing too, because if this deal goes south, at least Pine will get a few suits out of it.
Thus Jonathan Pine, the man without an identity has completed his transformation to Andrew Birch, and the ladies are noticing. While the women of Spain are eyeballing the new suit, Jed can’t help but wonder who this guy is and why he was in Roper’s study. They each hold secret over the other, and it draws them together. Or, at least, I think that’s what is going on.
So Jed and Pine do it. The BBC viewers got the pleasure of #Hiddlebum, while we got a suggestive cut around, though the scene was pretty hot, lack of butt notwithstanding. While I’m not totally out on Jed & Pine (Jine? Ped?), I have to wonder what either of them is doing in this affair. Pine, as we see play out later, is willing to jeopardize the entire operation — not to mention his life — for the hookup, and Jed risks her entire lifestyle and the financial security of her son. Do they even like each other? What do they talk about? Their sexual collision feels more like narrative form filling rather than the product of them as characters.
But, hey, who are any of us to complain about a “Roper’s having a meeting” quickie?
Richard “Baddest in Da World” Roper had lots of meetings this week, because after much ado, his next big arm deal is going down. There are three ships set for an unknown destination, but only one is probably filled with weapons. Angela Burr is on the case, and that is a very big problem for some very bad people.
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The first sign that something is amiss comes when Rex Mayhew from the Foreign Office is trying to ride his bike to work. The poor old guy is just trying to do his part by saving the ozone layer one car’s world of emissions, and two unmarked vans try to run him off the road. But instead of rolling over and shutting down Limpet, Mayhew triples Burr’s budget. She must be onto something if the bad men are gunning for him.
NEXT: And he is exactly right.
The documents Pine sent to Burr outline the impending sale and point in the direction of two beneficiaries, HALO and FELIX. These are the consultants listed on the invoice, each set to receive a $5 million fee. Who are these two entities? Whoever they are, they’re probably assisting in making Roper’s sale of “farming equipment” appear to be above board. Burr puts the screws to a source in MI6 and gets a big answer.
London and Langley.
Yes, MI6 and the CIA are skimming a little off the top, and any disruption of this would be a big deal for the cash-strapped intelligence agencies. The fact that word about FELIX and HALO even made it to Angela Burr has made Black Jack Randall’s most modern descendant very, very angry.
(Yes, this is by backdoor pitch to create a cinematic universe across The Night Manager, Outlander, Catastrophe and Game of Thrones, essentially connecting every character Tobias Menzies has ever played. I’d watch that. You’d watch that. Let’s just move on.)
So angry in fact that their best guess for the source of the leak, Roper’s Spanish layer Apo, has got to go. And wouldn’t you know it, when Pine, Roper, and crew arrive in Istanbul for the deal, Apo is indisposed. To be more specific, Apo and his wife/girlfriend have had their throats viscously cut. The deed was very likely done with the full cooperation of the US-UK intelligence community, which is an interesting twist. For all of this talk about how evil Roper is, he hasn’t done anything passively evil. Yet he has a hand in every bit of it.
This ties nicely into a sweet little story Angela Burr tells about her first encounter with the man. On assignment and away from her husband, Pine’s operator witness a combo mustard-and-sarin gas attack. The one-two punch was specifically engineered to make sure that everyone suffered and no one survived, which gave Roper a brilliant idea.
Olivia Colman has been quietly fantastic throughout the entire series, but this scene was mind-boggling great. Her furious breakdown, which was restrained and yet powerful, appeared so effortless and heartwrenchingly believable. This is exactly the kind of actress you bend a character to meet. “Burr was a man in the book? Well, Olivia Colman is interested, so now he’s a pregnant woman.”
Burr has no choice but to snap into action because there’s a problem. Pine was on the phone with Jed, possibly compromising his position within the outfit. She wants him out, but he refuses. They have no hard evidence on Roper yet, and if he follows the boss to the locations of the weapons, Burr can get Roper in position of chemical weapons. The predicament forces Pine to make a call, and he sells out other agents to protect his cover. It’s a bold move in the name of the operation, but when it happens within 24 hours of Pine intimidating a Turkish lawyer and marveling at Andrew Birch’s bank account, you have to wonder who he punched that agent for — Burr or Roper? Jonathan Pine or Andrew Birch?