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Series / The Night Manager

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"There is a whole system that keeps our country where we want it, amongst the elites, punching above our weight. Well, it's a state of being. An ontology, if you like. And it has to be maintained. I mean, we need Richard Roper. America needs Richard Roper. Whether you like it or not."
Geoffrey Dromgoole

Based on John le Carrť's 1993 novel of the same name, The Night Manager is a 2016 six-part crime drama BBC / AMC mini-series directed by Susanne Bier, which stars Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie.

It follows the work of former British soldier Jonathan Pine, working as the night manager of a Cairo hotel. The mistress of a local arms dealer is a guest at the hotel and passes Pine paperwork linking illegal international arms sales with Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie), an English billionaire. He alerts a friend in the British consulate and tries to get her to safety, but the leak is discovered and she is soon found dead. Four years pass, and then Roper visits the Swiss hotel where Pine now works. This rekindles Pine's anger, and he is enlisted by British Intelligence to catch Roper red-handed. The entrepreneur is believed to have forged a criminal alliance between the secret arms trade and the intelligence community, prompting the need for surveillance. Pine infiltrates Roper's inner circle by becoming a felon himself, with no way out except to bring him down.

With the show getting critical acclaim and sweeping quite a few awards, the BBC and AMC commissioned a second series in 2017. The project, which le Carré has given his official blessing, was in 2018 announced to be headed by a crack writing team consisting of Operation Finale screenwriter Matthew Orton, British spy novelist Charles Cumming, Humans writer Namsi Khan, and Killing Eve executive producer Francesca Gardiner. Its release date is as of this writing unknown.

Tropes found in this series include:

  • Adaptational Nationality: Jed is English in the novel, while she is American in this series.
  • Alliterative Name: Richard Roper is the villain of the piece, though he goes by "Dickie".
  • Always Save the Girl: Pine's mindset, particularly since he seems to keep falling in love with them. He makes considerable risks in order to stay true to this principle.
  • Ambiguously Absent Parent: Jed is apparently a single mother, the father of her son unmentioned and unseen (we can surmise he isn't involved or providing them support as she's Roper's mistress since her family has cut her off).
  • Arms Dealer: Richard Roper is a particularly brutal one.
  • Artistic License - Firearms: The stock list of weapons that Roper sells, includes several impractical, obsolete and high unlikely items for a mid-range weapons dealer to sell. It includes such items as a Trident Missile, the F-22 Raptor, and the Avro Vulcan jet (Of which only one is currently airworthy!).
  • Awful Wedded Life: The Langbourne's marriage is a passive aggressive adulterous mess, and Roper and Jed's relationship is a tissue of mutual lies.
    Caroline Langbourne: Sandy screws everyone and tells me everything. Roper is steadfastly faithful and tells Jed nothing.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Roper meets his fate at the hands of his would-be business partners, who've just lost $300 million thanks to his mistake. Angela realizes exactly what's going to happen, but figures he deserves it.
  • Big Bad: Richard Roper. Mastermind of the entire arms dealing situation.
  • The Brute: Frisky is Roperís Psycho for Hire and acts as his general muscle. It is him who Roper uses to torture Jed and Pine when he realises what they are doing.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Averted. Despite her short hair and Tomboyish Name, Jed is incredibly feminine.
  • Camp Gay: Corkoran is this. Roper finds it distasteful, but puts up with it because Corkoran is useful.
  • Cultured Badass: Jonathan Pine is the Night Manager of several high class hotels. Having a taste for classic literature (Including Seven Pillars of Wisdom) and smart suits qualifies him for the cultured part. For the badass, he was a former soldier turned mercenary and now a dangerous criminal, manipulate Richard Roper and personally kill both Freddie Hammid and Lance Corkoran.
  • Death by Adaptation: Major Corkoran dies in the series but not in the novel.
  • Disposable Woman: Sophie. She exists exclusively to set forth the plot and to motivate Pine before she dies.
  • The Dragon: Major Lance ďCorkyĒ Corkoran, Roperís number one man and front man. A large part of Jonathanís plans involve convincing Roper to lose faith in Corky, and replacing him.
  • Driven to Suicide: The daughter of the Spanish lawyer Apo (who is helping facilitate the Roper arms deal) commits suicide on her birthday, leading her father to offer up information to Burr and her operation in order to seek absolution.
  • Engineered Heroics: As the first step of his infiltration, Jonathan foils a staged abduction of Roper's son Daniel.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Roper's private kingdom has a multinational army of mercenaries, which he dubs "the real United Nations".
  • Establishing Character Moment: Jonathan is introduced calmly walking to work through an Arab Spring protest; when his manager expresses shock that he'd walked through the mess going on outside, Jonathan laughs and says that he's seen worse.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Roper shows genuine affection for his son, which also seems to be the only person whom Roper's got unselfish feelings for. Pine realizes this, and uses it to get into Roper's circle through rescuing the boy from a staged kidnapping.
  • Evil Genius: Lord Sandy Langbourne is this in Richard Roper operation. It is he who does the overall paper work and financial parts of Roperís arms deals.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Richard Roper. Don't let his hospitality fool you, he has an underlying air of menace and intensity — and no detectable moral limitations at all.
  • Flaw Exploitation: As part of his plan to work his way into Roper's inner circle and replace him, Pine plays upon Corky's growing alcoholism to make Roper believe the other party is concerned about it, as well as damage Roperís faith in him.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Roper's entire entourage runs on this when it comes to their nicknames: Dicky, Sandy, Corky, Frisky and Tabby.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The magic trick Roper does for the boys at his party is a classic sleight of hand trick, he later does a much bigger version of the trick in his arms smuggling deal. He has the authorities focus on the trucks actually filled with farming equipment, with the actual weapons being smuggled separately.
    • Roper's line to his son is reflected later in his relationship with Pine.
    Roper: You drink my wine, you steal my woman. Proud of you, Danny.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: Roper employs a group of mercenaries who mostly or all seem to be ex-military. They make it clear that they're comfortable with soldiering and unworried by moral issues, so working for Roper is fine with them. Roper's big mistake is buying Pine's cover as a high-end version of the same type.
  • Gender Flip: In the original novel, Angela Burr is man named Leonard.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Both are plot points. Jed is a good adulterer, as she is in a loveless relationship with an Affably Evil Arms Dealer. Sandy is a bad adulterer, as he sleeps with his children's nanny simply because he feels like it. Caroline informs us this is a regular event.
  • Guile Hero: Jonathan Pine. He manages to infiltrate Roperís inner circle through a combination of Engineered Heroics and pretending to be an ex-soldier turned mercenary; then moves up the ladder through charm and quick thinking. He integrates himself into Roperís trust and then exploits the position to manipulate events without Roper even noticing. He even manages to talk his way out of sneaking out of Roperís camp and Corky disappearing.
  • Heroic BSoD: Pine finding Sophie's brutally-murdered body.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: It's never made clear who Mr. Barghati is, or who the consortium he represents is, or what their plans are for the weapons Roper is selling them.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: The series casts Hugh Laurie against Tom Hiddleston. Many of their scenes together play as icy-eyed staring contests...
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Roper entrusts a new guy who heroically appears out of the blue and keeps ignoring and shunning his longtime ally and security expert Corkoran. He realizes too late he should have known something was wrong, and pays the price for it.
    • Jed having sex with Pine while knowing Roper to be extremely jealous isn't a very smart move, either.
  • Idle Rich: Averted in the case of Roper and Langbourne. You could not accuse either of them of being lazy. Played straight with their respective partners - Jed and Caroline both appear bored to tears, whilst being too addicted to the lifestyle to leave.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Pine is motivated into apprehending Roper initially because he feels personally responsible for the death of Sophie.
  • Informed Attribute: Langbourne is told twice he is a "bloody snob", yet never says anything indicating so.
  • In Love with the Gangster's Girl: Pine, twice. First with Sophie, then with Jed.
  • Indy Ploy: Jonathanís briefing from Angela basically amounts to telling him he needs to find a way to infiltrate Roperís operation, make him trust him and get them the information on his arms deals. Throughout the entire mission Jonathan is forced to constantly make up his plans on the fly to adapt to the challenges against him.
  • The Infiltration: The plot revolves around Jonathan Pine working his way into Roper's inner circle in order to stop him.
  • It's All About Me: Roper displays this frequently. Best shown when, upon the suicide of Apo's daughter, he mournfully notes that he'll have to reschedule his meetings.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: To learn who she's working with, Roper orders Jed tortured through repeated partial drowning (her head being forced underwater).
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Corky is easily the most consistently unpleasant person in the miniseries. He's also completely correct in his suspicions about Pine.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Roper clearly believes he can literally get away with murder, and indeed he has done so many times when the story starts. Then, in the last episode, he is arrested in Egypt, while the heroes have plenty of evidence against him. He remains confident and threatening at that point, and might indeed still survive, given his wealth and connections — except that some very ruthless people who think he's scammed them for vast sums of money take him away from the police. Then he breaks.
    • Geoffrey Dromgoole and the other corrupt British and American officials who were trying to protect Roper and facilitate his operations survive, although their scheming is defeated.
    • And, of course, Barghati and his fellow "consortium" members, who so far as we know have not even been identified by the end of the miniseries. Although they do lose the shipment of weapons Roper had promised them.
  • Lingerie Scene: Jed has several, and showcases her very attractive figure doing so.
  • Love Makes You Dumb:
    • Pine risks his own life - and jeopardizing his sting operation - to seduce and later protect Jed.
    • Arguably Roper, as well. In his case it's love for his son, and therefore gratitude towards Pine for saving his life (from an attack that Pine set up himself), which overrules his common sense and makes him incapable of appreciating his underling Corkoran's suspicion of him.
  • Mal Mariťe: Roper and Jed are a modern version of this. Corkoran even points out to Pine that Roper will kill Jed if she sleeps around on him.
  • Maybe Ever After Jed and Pine part ways at the end of the series, but imply they will see each other again soon.
  • MayĖDecember Romance: Roper is far older than Jed. Hugh Laurie as Roper is thirty one years older than Elizabeth Debicki, who plays Jed. Laurie was about fifty six at the time, and she around twenty five.
  • Morality Pet: Danny is this for Roper, Jed, and Pine. Curiously, both Danny and Jed are this for the virtually sociopathic Corkoran. Langbourne doesn't appear to have a Morality Pet - he isn't fond of his wife, and we barely see him bother to speak to his children.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jed is a shameless fanservice girl who's frequently shown in her lingerie, naked from the back, the side, and also topless a couple times while having sex with Pine.
  • The Napoleon: Major Corkoran, Roper's Number Two's most notable trait is that he's pretty short of stature. His second most notable trait is that he is a vicious jerkass.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Jonathan shows Sophie's documents to Ogilvy right away, ignoring the fact that she'd expressly asked him only to hand them over if something had already happened to her.
    • Semi-justified in that the quantity of arms on order could easily be used to take down a popular uprising, like the Arab Spring going strong at that moment, and were available for immediate use. It still got Sophie killed.
  • The Nicknamer: Roper has a habit of giving all his operatives nicknames, creating an effect that is both comedic and unsettling. He refers to his group of criminals and hired killers in a way that brings to mind the works of PG Woodhouse (especially considering who plays Roper).
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Jonathan gets one after going off-script during the fake kidnapping of Danny. It's bad enough to put him in the hospital, and kickstarts his relationship with Roper.
  • Oh, Crap!: The finale ends on a succession of those moments for Roper, culminating in him genuinely panicking as he's taken away to his death.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Burr doesn't seem the slightest bit concerned about the Egyptian buyers hijacking the police convoy and taking Roper away, presumably to his death. She even smiles about it.
    Burr: He deserves it.
  • Pet the Dog: While a dangerous arms dealer and all around Diabolical Mastermind, Roperís moments with Daniel establish that for all his many faults he does truly love his son.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: When Jed wants to put her pearls in the hotel safe, Roper indignantly says that Arabs aren't all thieves, then adds, "I'm kidding, dear, they are all thieves." He also calls the Arab militia "little brown rats" during a tantrum.
  • Pregnant Badass: The pregnant Angela Burr, mostly a back-office intelligence officer, shows a definite if desperate badass side in episode 6, when she ambushes Psycho for Hire Frisky, who has been sent to kill her and who is holding Jed hostage, shooting him in the leg.
    Angela: I'm a pregnant woman. Perfect cover.
    Joel: Ange, that's not "cover". You are a pregnant woman!
  • Privately Owned Society: On a much smaller scale than most, but "the Haven" at the Turkish-Syrian border is absolutely this, a strip of territory of which Roper is effectively the absolute ruler. It serves as a safe haven for his mercenary army and as a testing ground for his weapons; most disturbingly, it still contains a civilian population, living in villages that Roper can order cleared on a whim and then used as a weapons demonstration (and if any villagers that were too old to move are killed in the process, there's no one to hold Roper accountable for that). Adding to the irony is that the Haven is surrounded by refugee camps generously funded by Roper.
  • Private Military Contractors: Roper has a small army of mercenaries in his employ from across the world, whom he calls the "real United Nations".
  • Properly Paranoid: Whatever else Corkoran may be, the man does know his trade and notes how convenient and fishy Pine's story happens to be.
  • Psycho for Hire: Frisky, Roper's bodyguard/enforcer/torturer. Although Roper mostly keeps him on the leash, he makes it very clear, first in words and later by actions, that he has no qualms about the torturer part of his job, and probably enjoys it.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Despite being Roper's other hired muscle, and in stark contrast to Frisky, Tabby comes off as a completely indifferent guy just doing his job. At best, he's polite and alright, at worst, does what he's asked without emotion. A bit ironic since he's the only guy in Roper's entourage with a Beard of Evil.
  • Rescue Sex: Occurs between Sophie and Pine, though the rescue ends up failing, causing her to be killed.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Roper is unconcerned with being caught since he has some very high-level connections in the American and British governments (including a top member of MI6). His luck runs out eventually on that score though, since his business partners seek revenge and his MI6 connection is forced to drop him.
  • Setting Update: The story is moved up to 2015, with the first episode set during the Arab Spring.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Jed has no compunction about others seeing her in lingerie or nude, which she blithely tells Pine while undressing when he politely turns away. Thus, she's shown in her underwear or nothing at all multiple times.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Jed is quite lovely and very tall, albeit on the slim side.
  • Stress Vomit: Jonathan's reaction after being forced to serve Roper and his entourage, pretending he doesn't know about all the despicable things Roper's done, is to sprint to the nearest toilet and throw up violently as soon as he can get away from them.
  • Tomboyish Name: Jed Marshall. Unusually though, despite having short hair she is highly feminine otherwise.
  • Took a Level in Badass: At the start of the series Jonathan Pine is just a hotel night manager (granted, one with some previous military experience). By the end of the series heís taken down Richard Roper, and personally killed two especially dangerous people.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Seriously, it is made abundantly clear that both of them would be tortured and killed horribly for having an affair, and yet Jed and Pine still do it anyway. In fact, Jed in general embodies this trope, especially after said affair when she calls Pine's hotel room while he's in Istanbul knowing he's there with Roper and company. It of course blows Pine's cover enough that Angela tries to pull him out, since if anyone in Roper's organization finds out, Pine is worse than dead.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Roper's starts with a $600 million deal literally blowing up in his face. He doesn't truly crack until he realizes he's about to die very painfully.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The world knows Richard Roper as a savior of refugees and children, rather than an abusive, murderous arms dealer.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Burr relates to a colleague that she and Roper both witnessed the same nerve gas attack in Kurdistan in 2003... after which Roper made sure to add the gas to his inventory.
    And, when we got there it was a sports day. Well, it had been a sports day. You know, running races, long jump, picnics. It looked like it had been a really lovely day. Until someone had dropped two gas shells on the playing field. One was sulphur mustard. And one was [sarin]... the idea of the mixture was to stop people from getting masks on. The mustard gas burned the hands and faces of children... melted the skin and... which allowed the sarin to attack the breathing muscles. And a lot of the kids had lung tissue on their mouths and on their faces... He saw what I saw. He saw a hundred and twelve children and fifty-eight adults and he thought: "business."
  • Wall Bang Her: Pine and Jed have sex up against the wall in a hotel room.
  • We Are Everywhere: Unfortunately for the British and American agencies tasked with investigating him, Roper is very well connected in both their governments, including with their own superiors.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The fate of the Langbournes is unclear. Sandy gets arrested with Roper, but doesn't appear to get taken by the thugs at the end and Caroline and the children just...vanish.
  • Where It All Began: The action in the last episode moves back to Cairo, specifically the Nefrititi Hotel which is where Jonathan Pine met and lost Sophie, developed his hatred for Freddie Hamid and Richard Roper, and first collaborated (albeit briefly) with British intelligence.
  • Wicked Cultured: Richard Roper is a criminal mastermind who has a thing for high class hotels, living in style and fine dining.