This review contains spoilers.
Praise be. After its enigmatic, expensive series opener was followed up by last week’s ‘hiding in alcoves’ special, Hunted has regained its footing with episode three, and delivered a tense, eventful instalment that moved apace.
Yes, Hunter still spends too much time pouting at her flashback wall (which must have come as one half of a matching pair with her childhood trauma sleeping corner), and yes, the plot still rings somewhat hollow and videogame-like, but for surface action and intrigue, Hunted is highly watchable stuff.
Hourglass began with a horribly tense double murder and the body count kept rising from then on in. Following on from the Holms assassinations, Aidan staved in the skull of one of Turner’s goons in the woods, Hunter was on back on neck-snapping duty in the hotel maze, and Bernard Faroux finally copped it in his suite, but not before Hunter unlocked the name required for her to complete the level: Hourglass, the organisation supposedly behind the Tangier attempt on her life.
Anyone who’d paid attention to Hunted’s moody opening credits will have nodded wisely at the revelation of the name, and then breathed a sigh of relief that the hourglass in question is a Treadstone-style shady organisation codename rather than another childhood trinket like that clunkily emphasised copy of The Snow Maiden the show’s makers are so keen to leave in shot (apparently it’s a story about a girl made from ice who is melted and thus destroyed by love, for anyone on the hunt for intertextual parallels).
Hourglass made a reappearance right at the end of the episode, as Natalie (the government agent Aidan’s been meeting for clandestine nooky sessions and spying on Byzantium for) introduced what looked very much like a crossover character from the world of John Le Carré, an old spectacles-wearing MI6 spook named George. The Smiley-clone, it turns out, has been keeping tabs on the private sector firm and is now the latest candidate for having ordered the failed hit on Hunter. No doubt he’ll pop up again next week.
That’s not a given though, as the sinister fake Dr Goebel – the creepiest thing about last week’s episode – was side lined in Hourglass, as was the murderous fellow Hunter gave a kicking on that canal barge. With five episodes remaining in the series, let’s hope MI6 George is the last new character to be introduced as it’s becoming difficult to keep track. Perhaps I just need a spell in front of Hunter’s flashback wall to refresh me.
Aidan and Sam notwithstanding, Byzantium’s team of skilled operatives were all given a second paragraph to their character descriptions this week, and shallow as that felt, it still provided a useful hook for viewers. Deacon was revealed to be a religious family man, Zoe to have wistful feelings for an anonymous topless man, and Fowkes to be a sentimental maverick handy with a snooker ball (improvised weaponry was very much the theme of the episode after Hunter’s fire extinguisher extravaganza). More importantly, the writers revealed themselves to have a sense of humour with that rather dark gag about Hassan’s boot. More like that, please.
Everyone’s still accusing everyone else of having set up Hunter back in Morocco, and though she’s edging closer to uncovering the culprit, it’s still all to play for at this point. So paranoia-courting is Hunted that the only character who’d prove a true surprise if revealed as the one responsible would be poor sweet Eddie, the little boy with the nanny who protects him from nightmares by skewering them with crowbars in his multi-millionaire grandpa’s basement.
With its midnight lakeside meetings, mysterious hotel vaults and maze murders, the heightened world of Hunted is beginning to grow on me, despite its inconsistencies. The sex-worker aspect of Hunter’s undercover roles is troublesome in a show that patchily transcends gender, and this week’s seedy pole dancing club a somewhat disappointing cliche (blame The Sopranos). Hunter’s still too distant and Teflon-coated a protagonist for any real peril to be felt when her life is threatened, but the Turner family are a good watch, and despite all the sealed bid/secret squirrel Swede rigmarole edging towards the ridiculous, you can’t say the episode lacked for tension or style.
Next week, Hunter throws a bloke through a plate-glass partition wall, as is her wont, and we’ll presumably find out what low-rate Bond villain Frank Turner is planning to do with that billion pound hydroelectric dam. Until then.
Read Louisa’s review of last week’s episode, LB here.
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