BBC

On The Night Manager, The Big Brother/Little Brother Bond Is A Recipe For Lies

But at least the kid gets an ice cream out of it!

I need to call bullshit on this episode of The Night Manager. It's awfully convenient that all these people are spontaneously giving Jonathan such detailed accounts of Richard Roper's illegal activities. He doesn't even push them, and they just spill the damn beans.

First, you've got little Danny, Roper's son, blithely explaining where his daddy keeps his top-secret office full of top-secret files, and oh yeah, the alarm on the office door is checked every day at 11 AM. Why, it's almost like this angel child is unwittingly laying out the exact method by which Jonathan could sneak into a lair he only just learned existed!

And then there's Caroline Langborne, wife of Roper's associate Sandy Langborne. Caroline is mad that Sandy is shtupping the nanny, so in a fit of pique she gets revenge by...spilling Roper's secrets to Jonathan. Um. Okay. Kneeing Sandy in the balls would've been more effective, but for Jonathan's purposes, it's much more helpful to hear of an illegal arms deal that Roper is planning RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT.

I know the show is only six episodes, so there's no time to waste on drawn-out confessions and such. But shouldn't our hero have to work just a little harder to drink so much juice? And shouldn't Richie Ropes know better than to test his alarm on such a predictable schedule?

But whatever! As nagging as those questions are, they don't overwhelm the larger pleasures of the series, which this week include an amazing scene at an ice cream shop in the town near Roper's villa. THIS is where we get some patient, step-by-step spy stuff to savor.

Now that Jonathan has gathered intel, he needs to get it to Angela, who's hanging out at a nearby beach resort. Yet he knows he can't just walk up and say, "Yo girl, it's going down TONIGHT!" He needs a sneak attack.

Angela, meanwhile, has enough eyes on Jonathan to know when he's coming to town, so she follows him there. And then they improvise this system where Jonathan SEEMS to be talking to Danny about ice cream and an upcoming party. Really, though, he's mentioning specific names and places that Angela needs to hear.

To wit: when Jonathan jokes to Danny that mean old Lance Corkoran doesn't like him, and has mistrusted him since the days of ancient Egypt, he's actually telling Angela that Corkoran is close to blowing his cover. ("Ancient Egypt" equaling "the Egyptian hotel from Episode 1" and so forth.) He also gets Danny to list some key guests at the party, which is nominally for children but actually a cover for dastardly meetings. It all goes smoothly, and Danny never suspects.

Which gets me to my favorite thing about this episode: Jonathan's relationship to Danny. Even if the specificity of Danny's information is dramaturgically suspect, his reasons for spilling it are totally believable. For one thing, Jonathan appeared to save his life in that fake hostage situation from last week. For another, ever since then, Jonny's paid extra attention to the kid, who is frequently ignored by his dad. So OF COURSE this little boy, hungry for a male role model, is going to open up to the guy who (a) protects him, (b) listens to him, and (c) occasionally gives him a surprise piggyback ride on the way to get a pistachio cone.

That's sweet! Except it's also REALLY slimy, because Jonathan is fully using this kid. He knows exactly what he's doing with those piggyback rides!

I love that the show lets us marvel at how Jonathan works Danny without ignoring how cruel it is. (After all, he did meet the boy during a staged kidnapping attempt.) And sure, maybe Jonathan really likes the boy -- he's a pretty cool for a second-grader! -- but it's always clear that Jonathan's working his mission. After all, because Danny trusts him, he's able to steal the kid's phone, and then use it to send messages to Angela. That's not how we treat our true friends! I just hope Danny never knows about all this, or he may never be able to enjoy pistachio ice cream again.

Readers liked this episode
What did you think?

Discussion

Explore the The Night Manager forum or add a comment below.