TL;DR – While not groundbreaking, what we get is a solid spy thriller with a dash of West Wing to boot.
Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this show.
The Night Agent Review –
I am always looking for a new spy series to dabble in after last year’s delightful The Recruit. When I heard rumblings that The Night Agent was one to give a watch. So, I had some time off from work and thought I would give it a watch, then bamm, that first scene happened, and then wait, where did all those episodes go?
So to set the scene, Peter Sutherland (Gabriel Basso) is an FBI agent who was going about their day when they noticed that a gentleman (Andre Anthony) had just left their bag on the DC Metro. Opening it, he found there was a bomb and was able to evacuate the train before it exploded. A year later, Chief of Staff Diane Farr (Hong Chau) has given him a job in The White House, working the late shift as a Night Action operator. Most nights, all that entails is him looking over briefs and giving advice. But one night, the phone rings because Rose Larkin’s (Luciane Buchanan) family has been attacked, and she has been given this one lifeline for help. Now from here, we will be looking at the series as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
What we get from this first season is a solid and compelling narrative with several twists and turns. The grand conspiracy being an incompetent vice-president (Christopher Shyer) and the CEO of a private military contractor (Ben Cotton) trying to kill a forging dignitary (Adam Tsekhman) by taking out two city blocks only to fail and then need Farr to come in and clean up their mess is just the right level of stupidity to make you think that it could almost be plausible. The conspiracy also creates layers of relationships that change and shift throughout the season as different players try to cover their own arses when things go sideways. This helps create a symbolic landscape where our heroes can never find solid ground because it constantly shifts from underneath them.
This changing landscape leads to some compelling moments, which some you could see coming, but others did genially surprise me. While it was not a significant shock that Farr was somehow involved, I liked how they revealed it in the show and then trusted that the audience would catch the slip-up as Sutherland did. The kidnapping of the Vice-President’s daughter Maddie Redfield (Sarah Desjardins), was also a moment that escalated wildly in a way I was not expecting. Generally speaking, I think all the cast hit their roles well, which is good because the show has some vastly different tones between the more stoic Sutherland and Larkin and the two assassins Ellen (Eve Harlow) and Dale (Phoenix Raei) are sent to kill them.
While I did have a generally good time watching the show, which had an almost nostalgic feel, it was the sort of show you would see on tv in the early 2000s. Some moments did dip into the more frustrating territory. I wish they could have let Peter Sutherland be a touch less stoic and given him a bit more range to play with. Also, this is a show that woefully underutilised Robert Patrick. I am not sure the sub-plot of the secret service agents needed the old agent returning from almost retirement (D.B. Woodside). Chelsea Arrington (Fola Evans-Akingbola) could have carried that on her shoulders. The show goes out of its way to position the narrative around Yugoslavia but desperately does not what to be specific about where it is talking about in Yugoslavia. This is almost as comically apparent as Top Gun’s ‘we are not fighting Iran because we won’t call them by name’. Finally, some decisions, like not checking for trackers, do not make sense with the credibility characters are meant to have.
In the end, do we recommend The Night Agent? Well, there may be some frustrations around the edges of this show. It was a delight to watch when it hits, and I enjoyed the almost nostalgic romp that this spy/political thriller gave us.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Night Agent
Directed by – Seth Gordon, Guy Ferland, Ramaa Mosley, Adam Arkin & Millicent Shelton
Written by – Shawn Ryan, Munis Rashid, Seth Fisher, Corey Deshon, Imogen Browder, Tiffany Shaw Ho, Rachel Wolf & Munis Rashid
Created by – Shawn Ryan
Based On – The Night Agent by Matthew Quirk
Production/Distribution Companies – MiddKid Productions, Exhibit A, Project X Entertainment, Sony Pictures Television & Netflix
Starring – Gabriel Basso, Luciane Buchanan, Fola Evans-Akingbola, Sarah Desjardins, Eve Harlow, Phoenix Raei, Enrique Murciano, D. B. Woodside & Hong Chau with Robert Patrick, Andre Anthony, Christopher Shyer, Toby Levins, Ben Cotton, Kari Matchett, Ben Cotton, Jessie Liang, Andres Collantes, Philip Prajoux, Curtis Lum, Greyston Holt, Hiro Kanagawa, Adam Tsekhman & Alex Rose
Episodes Covered – The Call, Redial, The Zookeeper, Eyes Only, The Marionette, Fathoms, Best Served Cold, Redux, The Devil We Know & Fathers