[For The Night Manager “Part One” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
Part One. A Cairo hotel night manager receives a plea for help from a well-connected guest.
If you love old school spy stories with exotic locations and binary hero/villain characterizations, The Night Manager will be your late night TV viewing pleasure. Our hero, Johnathan Pine (played by the wholeheartedly British Tom Hiddleston), begins the story as The Night Manager of a chic Cairo hotel during the Arab Spring. A dutiful but romantic loner, he’s good at his job but easily seduced by pretty ladies and a compulsive urge to save the day. The other side of this story’s coin is the dastardly Richard Roper (played by our favorite TV doctor, Hugh Laurie) described in an early scene as “the worst man in the world”… but really just a good old fashioned greedy fuck like every other one percenter you’re likely to meet these days.
The story opens as the Arab Spring riots peak and thus we see Mr. Pine help his hoity toity hotel guests quietly flee the country as President Murabak resigns and Cairo thus descends into a state of somewhere between revolution and anarchy in the streets. Pine’s obviously hellbent on being “of service to all” so one of the guests, Sophie Alekan, mistress to a notorious gangster-type named Freddie Hamid, takes advantage of that. She has Pine make her coffee and then quickly enlists him as her savior and lover. After all, getting coffee for pretty ladies is such a slippery slope – at least in the world of John le Carre it is.
She has Pine make copies of classified documents so that he can’t help but notice they’re invoices for a ton of deadly war-mongering weapons. These papers connect her boyfriend, Hamid, with a company called IronLast, Richard Roper’s company – but we don’t yet know that part so shhhh. Sophie tells Pine if something is to happen to her, an “accident”, he should give the envelope of documents to his friend, Ogilvey who’s with the British Embassy in Cairo. Johnathan mentioned knowing Ogilvey to Sophie before and thus we’re meant to presume this is why Sophie’s chosen Pine as the one to give the information about the weapons arsenal. There’s also the fact that she keeps giving him the “let’s bone later” eyeball up and down, but that could just be the frosting on her whistleblower cake.
Pine gets frazzled by the impact of these documents on his innocent constitution and immediately uses his connections in the hotel kitchen to find the whereabouts of Freddie Hamid. They hook him up quickly and with only two polite and savvy phone calls to other Cairo establishments Johnathan discovers that Hamid is currently meeting with a Mr. Roper. So Jonathon Googles “Roper IronLast” and finds a Youtube video of a philanthropist speech Roper gave about one of his charitable organizations. He seems like a fine old chap in the video… OK not really. He watches Roper talking about all the good he does in the world and then Pine scans down the invoice of weapons to the bottom of the list where it says “napalm”.
In the next scene Jonathan brings the IronLast ammunitions invoice to his buddy Ogilvey at the British Embassy but won’t tell him where he got it. Ogilvey then sends it to the International Enforcement Agency in Victoria, England and they immediately recognize the name Ironlast as Richard Roper, shake their heads like “here we go again,” and begin investigating anew. Their leader, Angela Burr, then meets with an intelligence representative to talk about “the art of the possible” but it seems the British government would rather weaponize a monster like Roper than embrace the ongoing Egyptian revolution which will likely have a much more unpredictable financial outcome for them. Shocking surprise.
Next Sophie calls Jonathan up to her room and says she needs to know who Johnathan showed the papers to because apparently Roper was warned and thus Freddie Hamid beat her to a pulp for leaking the documents. This is the scene where Sophie describes Roper as “the worst man in the world” even as she says her Freddie merely has “a temper”. Next we see Jonathan at the hotel front desk as Freddie comes in to demand entry for Sophie’s room. The reluctant Mr. Pine brings him to the room but in the previous scene he’d surreptitiously moved her to another room. Ha ha! Foiled again, Freddie. Now Freddie’s freaking out on the phone with Roper and tells him he’s looking for Sophie and “handling it” along with some arabic which Jonathan pretends to not understand but clearly does.
Then we see Jonathon secreting Sophie away to an undisclosed location far away where she can’t be found. She whispers “come with me… please” using her best sensual magic and, since he has blood in his veins and a boner in his pants, Pine joins her. They drive out to the hideaway and gyrate the night away under mosquito netting. In the morning she tells him her real name is Samira. Apparently, now Pine loves her. He gets a text saying that Hamid is looking for Sophie so Pine says she’ll need to leave the country in order to stay safe. He says maybe he can get her to London using his connections (Ogilvey) then leaves to return to the hotel and make arrangements. Once there, Ogilvey tells him the authorities were grateful for the documents. Jonathan retorts that if they were thankful why did they tip off Roper? To this Ogilvey doesn’t answer and instead pivots. Pine doesn’t notice the pivot, though, because Ogilvey says he knows Pine’s source was Sophie and that she’s Hamid’s “ex girlfriend” and that’s a problem. Ogilvey knows he has Pine’s attention now. He says Sophie’s only chance is to convince Hamid that she knows nothing about the documents. She can’t go to London because the British government are on the side of Freddie Hamid, who’s worth billions to them and sending Sophie there will only tip off Hamid and Roper even more that she ratted them out. So, Pine immediately calls Sophie and tells her he won’t be able to get her to London after all. She’s crushed and angry, believing her death imminent. But Pine insists all will be OK even though he has no evidence to back up that claim.
Then the International Enforcement Agency investigation into the IronLast invoices gets abruptly cancelled. So, Angela Burr calls Ogilvey to see what’s going on and the next thing we know she’s following up that conversation with another call. This one’s extra urgent and to Pine. Burr leaves a message saying Pine has to get Sophie out of the hotel because her life’s at risk. Then Angela leaves a number where she can be reached. Sophie has already settled back in at the hotel by the time Angela leaves this message. So, when Jonathan gets Burr’s voicemail he races to Sophie’s room. But he’s too late and finds her dead, covered in blood on the floor.
Flash forward four years later and Pine now works as The Night Manager at a hotel in the Swiss Alps. Late one night Richard Roper checks in and Pine’s aware that there’s a package waiting for his esteemed “worst man in the world” guest. He welcomes Roper warmly and when Pine introduces himself as The Night Manager a flash crosses Roper’s face as if he recognizes the name and title as significant. He then asks where Pine previously worked and Pine lies, not mentioning Cairo. Roper has a sexy young lady friend with him, named Jed, who wears yellow with strategic daring. Jed’s also got a noteworthy slick hairstyle and cold-hearted gaze. Pine lies once again to Roper and says the parcel he’s awaiting hasn’t arrived yet. After meeting with them Pine quickly takes a timeout to vomit before opening Roper’s parcel, taking notes on the contents, and then reclosing it to send up to his suite. Later he extricates whatever’s left from Roper’s package – little gold nubbins, it seems – after going through the evening’s trash bags. Fun and sexy stuff, night managing. The significance of the little gold nubbins remains unclear to us in “Part One” but the fact that Pine is breaking all the rules, lying and going through garbage bags, makes him a bit less of a tight-ass goody goody, so we’re all for it. They seem to be some sort of modern day version of microfiche or film, the kind of stuff spies frequently hid up their butts back in the day.
Later at home Pine finds the number Angela Burr left on his voicemail the night Sophie died four years ago and he calls her. He then returns to work that night and sees Roper negotiating and socializing at a clandestine meeting. By chance, Pine and Roper meet outside in the snow briefly after the meeting. Roper makes a comment about how anyone else would have tossed their cigarette when a paying customer turned up, so good for Pine that he didn’t. It seems that maybe Roper does know of Pine’s connection to Sophie and this is his way of trying to make him squirm a bit. The next day Pine meets with Angela Burr over lunch and gives her the little gold bits of Roper loot he got out of the trash. He tells her about the clandestine meeting at the hotel the night before. Then as the episode closes Angela asks Pine what he’s prepared to do about all this. It seems inevitable that Pine will do just about anything, haunted as he is by Sophie/Samira.