While many are comparing "The Night Manager" to another staple of British espionage, James Bond, a better comparison for AMC's compelling new spy-saga might be everyone's favorite Netflix binge, "House of Cards."
Our hero, Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston), is in fact not very heroic. His journey into the criminal world of Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie) may have been launched by loss and tragedy -- and even the noblest of intentions -- but from the moment he steps into his new persona, he leaves all notions of heroism at the door.
Rather than a typical spy drama filled with explosions, harrowing rescues and last minute countdowns, "The Night Manager" relies on quiet manipulation and the push and pull of mind games between characters; the kind of espionage you'd find in the back rooms of Washington D.C rather than atop moving trains or skyscrapers.
When we first meet him, Pine seems fearless. He easily walks through the rioting streets of Cairo during the Arab Spring, despite the fact that guests of the hotel he works at seem to be panicking and fleeing for their lives amidst the turmoil. His natural charm and charisma attract the attention of Sophie (Aure Atika), a guest of the hotel and the mistress of a powerful man in Egypt: Freddie Hamid (David Avery).
We sense immediately that Pine is a man of strong moral conviction, who hopes to help Sophie escape Hamid's clutches, while also turning over the evidence she has compiled against Richard Roper to the authorities. An attempt which eventually gets her killed.
A fortuitous bit of luck later puts Pine in close proximity to Roper, the man he blames for Sophie's demise, prompting him to seek out the help of a British intelligence officer, Angela Burr (Olivia Colman). In the original novel by John le Carre, Burr's character was a man, a fact Colman was excited to play with.
"I was thrilled that they'd taken the decision to turn one of the main characters into a woman," Colman tells Zap2it. "The book was updated anyway for the purposes of the television program, so it also made sense to update that ... It was right that Burr is a women. I can't now imagine her as a man."
Together, Burr and Pine will create a persona worthy of Richard Roper's attention and trust, but the real question may not be whether Pine can find a way to take Roper down. It may be whether he will lose himself in the process.
"The Night Managers" airs Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.