I started watching The Night Manager because of Tom Hiddleston's eyes. They are very good eyes, and they are attached to the title character of this BBC miniseries, based on John le Carré's novel of the same name. I've never read anything by le Carré and I've never watched an episode of Homeland, and if this show were delivered without the promise of Hiddles's blue, sad, pretty eyes, I'd probably reserve Tuesday nights for New Girl or just marathon puppy videos of my roommate's dog. But the eyes were there, and so I streamed.
Thankfully for the rest of you, The Night Manager, whose third episode aired on AMC this week, is more than just an excuse to leer at Hiddleston, though you'll have plenty of opportunity to do that if you so desire. The show's an update to le Carré's 1993 offering—most importantly, it's set in present day, but there's been some character gender-swapping and setting changes along the way, too. And while it's not quite as sexy as James Bond, nor as clever as The Americans, it's a fun ride—not because of Tom Hiddleston, though he has his place, but because of Hugh Laurie, who plays the Very Bad Guy and is so goddamn charming you'd probably be cool with one of his napalm bombs blowing you up.
The plot is as follows: Hiddleston plays Jonathan Pine, a veteran British soldier with a sad past. He works as an obsequious night manager at fancy hotels, because night managing is the perfect gig for someone who has confronted The Darkness, or something. At the beginning of The Night Manager, Pine's in Cairo, serving rich people at a luxury hotel while Arab Spring protests rage on the streets outside. It's here that Pine meets Sophie Alekan, the mistress of a member of one of Cairo's wealthiest families. Pine and Sophie have an affair, but not before she makes him photocopy documents regarding a major arms deal her...master?...has cut with Richard Roper (Laurie), a Brit she deems "the worst man in the world."
Of course, Pine's a patriot, and he shows the docs to a friend of his with the International Enforcement Agency in London. This sets in motion a series of events that lead to Pine getting embedded as a spy within Roper's core circle, and it's here we get to meet a pretty spectacular cast of secondary characters. There's Angela Burr (re-gendered from Leonard in the books), a very pregnant intelligence operative played by Olivia Colman. There's Jed Marshall (Elizabeth Debicki), Roper's very tall, very young girlfriend who also has a dark past, of course. And there's Lance Corkoran, Roper's sinister right-hand man, played to perfection by Tom Hollander.
The crew coalesces quite well, but Laurie's Roper is still the standout here. He's the perfect villain—impeccably charming, but calculating and terrifying as hell. And though Hiddleston's Pine is a tad too bleeding-hearted for my liking, he and Roper verbally spar so well you'll forgive him for offering to make coffee for literally every human he meets.
The first episode is slow, but two and three more than make up for it—we've also got the promise of [SPOILER ALERT] this hot scene in the future. Come for the spy thriller, stay for the Hiddlebum!