We’re introduced to Sam Hunter (Melissa George), an undercover operative working for an unnamed clandestine organization. She’s betrayed by someone on her own team and seriously wounded while on a mission in Tangier, but somehow manages to make it back to her family’s home in Scotland. After a year’s worth of convalescence and physical re-training during which she remains entirely incommunicado with her employers, she returns to London to see if she can get her old job back, determined to discover who engineered her betrayal and why. Her boss, Rupert Keel (Stannis Barath–… I mean, Stephen Dillane), is reluctant to take her back at first, having been unable to locate Sam or track her movements while she was recuperating. However, he badly needs Sam for an upcoming operation so he takes her back, despite harbouring suspicions about where she’s been and what she’s been doing.
Sam’s new mission is to infiltrate the household of high-powered gangster Jack Turner (Malahide), a self-made – if by “self-made” you include using extortion, blackmail, and murder along with stocks and financial acumen to accumulate wealth – millionaire who got his start as a dockworker in the 1970s. Turner’s son, Stephen (Stephen Campbell Moore) and his grandson, Edward (Oscar Kennedy) are identified as his vulnerable points. Turner’s eldest son was gruesomely murdered by his enemies in either retaliation or warning, and his son and grandson are all he has left. Sam earns Stephen and Edward’s trust by saving Edward from a staged kidnap attempt, posing as an American, Alex Kent, who’s seeking work in the U.K. after losing her son and husband in a car accident. Stephen then asks Sam to move into the Turner family home (something of a posh fortress, really, with lots of henchmen and goons about) as Edward’s new nanny, since the boy has bonded with her.
Jack Turner: A Very Dangerous Man
The catch is that the highly suspicious Jack Turner does not trust anyone new in his home and is a very canny and very dangerous man; we learn that his enemies tend to meet rather unsavoury ends. Moreover, he’s in the process of setting up a large-scale deal to purchase a hydroelectric dam in Pakistan and is especially on his guard. We also catch a preliminary glimpse of Turner family dynamics; Turner might adore his grandson, but he’s somewhat contemptuous and dismissive of his public-school-educated, non-Cockney-accented second son. One does get the impression that the murdered son was his favourite.
Sam manages to set up surveillance equipment, which will be monitored by her team from a nearby location. However, factors are already at work that place the operation in danger; a team member is abducted from a stake-out and a water scientist, Dr. Horst Goebel, is killed by the mysterious Blank-Faced Man (as he’s listed in the credits), who then masquerades as Goebel in a meeting with Turner. The Blank-Faced Man (Scott Handy) is also connected with Sam’s past in an as-yet unexplained way.
Written by Frank Spotnitz of “The X Files” fame, this is a promising start to a new series. We get a sense of the plot threads in play and the grave danger of Sam’s situation, with a sustained level of tension and suspense and mostly well-constructed storyline – with a few provisos/issues:
- Sam’s “secret room”/bolt-hole has a big window facing the street. Umm… I’m not a spy, but…
- Sam’s employers didn’t think to look for her at her family’s old home?
- And this is kind of a bad one: Turner’s lackeys didn’t do a background check or even get a picture of Goebel before Turner met him in person? Hmmm. Balon wouldn’t make a mistake like that.
Aside from these things, Patrick Malahide is extremely effective as Jack Turner, a filthy rich and utterly ruthless Cockney gangster who won’t hesitate to use any methods at his disposal to achieve his ends. He is seriously scary in this, even in the first episode, and he hasn’t done anything nefarious yet! Impressive. 🙂 He also seems quite fond of the colour purple. I’m very much looking forward to see what develops in the next episode.
You can view more information on “Hunted” or watch the first episode, “Mort”, for a limited time on BBC One’s Web site.