Corky takes a few punches, and Pine does his best Tony Stark
Credit: Des Willie/AMC

Well, that was intense. The penultimate episode of The Night Manager took us right to the brink, with an arms deal successfully arranged and an arms bust successfully thwarted, and just about every minute was charged with suspense.

Because really, how hasn’t Roper figured out that Pine is the mole?

That should be obvious at this point, right? British intelligence had the coded ledger of everyone involved in TradePass, and things started to go badly for Roper’s outfit once Pine arrived on the scene. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that the new, British guy might have a connection to the operation?

Maybe that punch Pine threw as they all stormed out the hotel in Istanbul was enough to sell it, and there is the fact that the new guy probably didn’t have access to the documents that the regular crew did. From that perspective, Sandy Langbourne is a much more likely suspect. That’s where things stand when the group arrives at The Haven, Roper’s tiny kingdom, where he has his own private military stationed. This was the major setting for most of the action in the fifth episode, and it offered a nice change of pace from the stunning locales and a taste of some real life conflict.

As the series writers wove the Arab Spring into The Night Manager‘s opening, the Syrian civil war and resulting refugee crisis have a part to play in this chapter.

The Haven is located just outside a refugee camp — like, right outside. I’m talking about a distance no greater than 100 yards. The thing is right next door. You’d think that Roper would like to hide his absurdly militarized operation from the hundreds of refugees living down the block, but whatever. The proximity makes it easy to stop for black-and-white photo ops to see the media happy.

The plan is to teach Pine, now deeply entrenched in the Andrew Birch persona, the ins and outs of some serious weaponry. He isn’t the front of this operation in name alone. Birch is the active salesman. The deal does not happen unless Pine is able to thoroughly convince some bad men to buy some weapons. It’s not difficult to see the ethical quandary at the center of this episode. If Pine’s cover is to remain intact, he has to be a very active player in something very evil.

And this demonstration isn’t just a bunch of machine guns. This is some serious weaponry that makes that scene from the first Iron Man movie look like child’s play.

Suffice it to say that this is a really bad time for Burr to have lost Pine. The mole’s handler hasn’t had a hand on him since he socked a fellow agent in a very convincing manner. It was almost as if he hit the dude really hard, making it impossible to tell if he’s still on the right side or not.

NEXT: Corky gets punched a lot!

The view from back in London is bleak. Burr hasn’t been sleeping, she’s still super pregnant, and there might be people following her. Oh, and her husband is becoming a smaller speck in the grand scheme of her life, which is a very modern twist on the space le Carre works in. His spies are usually sad men, who are saddest at home. George Smiley’s wife was ever-present and ever-unfaithful.

With Burr’s gender switched to female for the miniseries, The Night Manager adds more than the prowess of Olivia Colman. Angela Burr has a constant reminder of her neglected personal life in the form of her pregnant belly. She’s made previous comments about her marital strife, but seeing the unfinished nursery brought the situation into focus.

The culmination of all of this is when Angela arrives home to find Mr. Burr on the ground, having suffered a blow to the head in a supposed break-in. But if you ask me, that looks like the handy work of MI6 agent Black Jack Randall. And this is key, because in the world of le Carre, the “bad guys” are only ever one part of the story, and they frequently resemble our heroes. Pine, who has disappeared under his cover can attest to that, the real evil is the institutional power wielded by those who can benefit from the bad guys.

Because what does bringing down Richard Roper really mean when Britain and the United States have it in the vested interest to replace him when he’s gone?

But the bloody brilliant part of a le Carre story is that the smaller story still matters and is engaging as hell. How could we not be riveted when Corky arrives at the Haven without warning and Jed in tow? It appears that Roper has called in all of his suspects together to sniff out the rat. The extra pressure forces the truth out of Pine, who confesses his full story to Jed. He promises to get her out, but he doesn’t specify how.

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So Jed takes the opportunity to hatch her own plan, which I frankly loved. Here’s this handsome leading man, who offers vague promises of a rescue, so what does Jed do? She crafts an even smarter plan that partly implicates herself, but one that also subtly shifts the blame almost entirely onto Corky. And boy, did Corky have a rough episode! Just when it was seeming like he finally had Pine cornered, the 5′ 5″ heavy drinker decided to try to beat up the 6′ 2″ ex-military man. And we’re supposed to be surprised when he gets punched in the face to death!

Corky’s demise is both a quick fix to the mole problem and a signifier for Pine’s complete loss of innocence. He’s killed a man to protect himself, and it’s only drawn him further into the fire, as next week takes us to Cairo and the hotel suite of Freddie Hamid, where this whole mess started.

Episode Recaps

The Night Manager
2016 tv miniseries
  • TV Show
  • 1