Episode Title: "Ambassadors"
Writer: Frank Spotnitz
Director: Alrick Riley
Last Friday, we ran an interview with “Hunted” creator, Frank Spotnitz wherein he promised that episode 5 would be “the turning point in the whole show” with “huge a-ha moments.”
Unfortunately, I think that Spotnitz oversold this episode. I kept waiting for “Ambassadors” to blow me away, but it never did. However, it was one of the strongest episodes since the series premiered.
Full spoilers lie ahead for the most recent episode of “Hunted.” Don’t read this review until you’re caught up with the series.
Perhaps the big turning point that Spotnitz was referring to was the Blank-faced man (Scott Handy) revealing himself as an ally to Sam Hunter (Melissa George) as opposed to someone trying to kill her. Hardy’s character comes off as such a creep that it’s hard to take what he tells Sam at face value. But the Blank-faced man does save Sam at a critical point in the episode, so maybe he isn’t what we initially thought he was.
I suppose the definition of Hourglass could also be potentially game changing, but I found the idea that Hourglass is another Illuminati style conspiracy about rich and influential people secretly controlling the world to be really boring. It’s an idea that’s been done so many times before that it needs an innovative hook to work again. So far, Hourglass simply seems generic and pointless.
It was more interesting that Aidan Marsh (Adam Rayner) really was responsible for letting Sam’s attackers know where to find her a year ago, even if he didn’t intend for that to happen. As MI-6’s mole within Byzantium, Aidan was also the one who gave up Hasan Moussa (Uriel Emil Pollack) to Jack Turner (Patrick Malahide).
Regardless, Aidan professed his loyalty to Byzantium when his bosses, Rupert Keel (Stephen Dillane) and Deacon Crane (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) confronted him with their suspicions. Aidan’s dramatic escape from the Byzantium building was one of the highlights of the episode. And Sam is right to still have suspicions about trusting him, but I do enjoy the way that Sam is forced to partner with Aidan because she simply has no one else to turn to.
While Keel remained largely bland and uninteresting, Deacon at least showed some heart when he confessed to a priest that Byzantium was setting up two innocent people to be killed by Turner’s men just to maintain Sam’s cover within the Turner household. And ultimately, it happens. The death toll to keep Sam’s secret is three people this week; which is a number that is bound to go up.
“Ambassadors” did have a fairly major turn with Sam’s relationship with Stephen Turner (Stephen Campbell Moore), and to a lesser extent, Stephen’s son, Edward (Oscar Kennedy). I’ve had a hard time buying the bond between Sam and the Turners because even when they are on friendly terms there’s a wide emotional gap between them.
At least Edward seems to love Sam as a surrogate mother figure. I’m not sure if Sam actually reciprocates that feeling, but she at least seems to care for him. Meanwhile, Stephen apparently had romantic desire for Sam almost from the start. Stephen always defends Sam to his father and he went out of his way to visit Sam in the hospital twice, just to deliver a get well card from his son.
So, when Sam puts forth an emotional vulnerability to explain away her early check out from the hospital, Stephen envelops her in a hug and he begins passionately kissing her. On my first viewing of this episode, I thought that Stephen was being unusually assertive with Sam by initiating that encounter.
However, on a second viewing, that moment didn’t seem quite as predatory on Stephen’s part. Keep in mind, Stephen only knows Sam as “Alex Kent,” a woman who lost her husband and her child in an accident. It’s close enough to Sam’s own tragedy that she doesn’t have to fake many of the emotions behind her facade.
Looking at the scene from that perspective, it’s easier to see why Stephen makes a move on her. Stephen also views Sam as a surrogate mother for his son and on some level, he probably wants to rebuild the family unit he lost when his wife died. It also gave Stephen the rare chance to be assertive in a relationship. We’ve seen Jack humiliate and emasculate Stephen in their private and public conversations. With “Alex,” Stephen gets to be the dominant figure in a relationship... and he’s at least kind about it.
It’s less clear if Sam returns any of Stephen’s affection, but she’s apparently going along with his desires at the end of the episode. I’m curious to see if Stephen brings up the multiple bruises and scars on Sam’s body next week. How’s this for pillow talk? “My.... what an interesting bullet scar you have.”
Up until now, Sam has been the only character on “Hunted” who seems to have some life to her. But Aidan is coming along. It’s intriguing to learn that “Aidan” is simply an assumed identity he stole that Natalie Thorpe (Indira Varma) and MI-6 used to hold over his head in exchange for being their man inside Byzantium. That seems to imply that Aidan otherwise wouldn’t have turned against the company.
The shoot out that pitted Sam and Aidan against the assassins from Hourglass was well played, as was the earlier confrontation between Sam and Aidan before their reluctant team up. I still don’t care about the rest of the Byzantium.characters, a dam in Pakistan or the ridiculous Hourglass theories.
But I’ll watch a show about Sam Hunter. Aidan is just an occasional bonus.