Episode Two: “LB”
The BBC One Web site synopsizes episode two of “Hunted” as follows:
After a colleague is kidnapped by the criminal multimillionaire she is spying on, Sam is ordered to kill him to keep him from being tortured and compromising the team. But her colleague delivers a stunning revelation – he has information on who tried to assassinate her in Tangier. If Sam carries out the order to kill him, she will never find out.
Generally speaking, that is what happened. What it seemed to amount to, for me, was a lot of scurrying around up and down stairs, in and out of rooms, and up and down elevators, with lots of convenient hiding at the very last second behind convenient corners or doors which would be shut for nearly every other occasion, but not when someone might be hiding behind one! Umm… yeah, I had a few issues with this one.
First, the Good Bits: Jack Turner “In His Element”
But first, the good bits – and there were a few. We do get to see Jack Turner “in [his] element”, as his old buddy and fellow ex-dockworker Dave Ryder (David Sterne) aptly says. Turner’s henchmen successfully capture one of Sam’s team members, Hasan Moussa (Uriel Emil Pollack), who they believe is responsible for the kidnap attempt on grandson Edward (Oscar Kennedy), and imprison him in Turner’s labyrinthine basement. Turner is very pleased with the situation; he also proves that he’s quite willing to get his hands dirty and not at all averse to a little old-school torture with chains, crowbars, etc. He even personally selects the chain he wants his lead henchman/butler, Bingham (Colin Firth Tom Beard), to use. When Hasan defies Turner by spitting in his face, Turner suddenly snaps and administers a savage beating himself with bare fists, only stopping when he’s pulled away by Bingham. We were expecting (hoping?) to see some ruthlessness and viciousness and we got it, in spades! Extremely well (and very scarily) played by Malahide.
We also get a little more development in Turner family dynamics. Turner repeatedly shuts son Theon Stephen (Stephen Campbell Moore) out of business meetings and gives the overall impression he doesn’t think much of Stephen’s competence in business or indeed, life in general. Stephen finally goes to his father and demands respect, to which Turner replies in a low growl, “Earn it.” When Stephen insists he’s strong enough for whatever his father can dish out (uh oh…), Turner takes him down to the basement to see the captive and puts a crowbar into Stephen’s hands, goading him with, “Go on… Do it! Show me how strong you are!” Stephen can’t do it (and Turner stalks off in disgust), but he does show a flare of anger, grabbing Hasan by the throat and demanding to know why Hasan did it – only to release him in what looks like shock at his action. It’s all very well performed by Campbell Moore, from desperately seeking his father’s approval to revulsion at becoming just like his father.
And a Creepy Villain
The Blank-Faced Man (Scott Handy) continues to be a suitably creepy and effective villain as well, though I do question what would’ve happened if he’d succeeded in poisoning Sam (with a needle to the eyeball, eeewww!!) in the middle of Turner’s foyer. Would he just have left her body there and hoped no one noticed? Tried to drag her off into the coat closet? Or what? And of course, he has handed off a Mysterious Briefcase™ to Turner for future plot developments.
And Now, the Bad News…
I’m sure it was someone’s clever and stylistic idea to create a paranoiac, suspenseful atmosphere by using lots of shots where one is peering at the characters through partially open doors, or between large, blurry objects very close to the camera as if one is spying on them, but it’s damned annoying and headache-inducing and they should cut it out! My headache was not helped by the extremely dark lighting and overuse of coloured filters; Turner’s basement was green-lit in such a way that I was wondering if we were in the Matrix and Agent Smith might suddenly show up. That would be a good thing, by the way, because I suspect Smith is a far more competent agent than Sam or anyone else employed by Byzantium.
Speaking of competence, my credulity was somewhat strained by seeing the rather waifish Sam take on a grizzled baddie at least twice her weight (if not more) and emerge relatively unscathed, with only one severe laceration (to her chest, requiring her to doff her sweater, natch) but no bruises to her face, lost teeth, broken ribs, or any of the other visible injuries one might expect from an all-out, knock-’em-down fight by a canal where she’s getting thrown into brick walls and concrete. And she has not one, but two fights in this episode (three, if you count the guard she incapacitates) with opponents larger and stronger than herself. It’s possible, but… just doesn’t seem very probable, given that she comes out of it nearly untouched every time.
And not only that, but we’re expected to believe that “the best agent Byzantium has”, while staying in the house of a man who had someone killed for wearing a wire, and while trying to figure out which of her team members set her up and nearly got her killed, is so incautious that she doesn’t regularly check her own room for hidden surveillance devices. See what I mean about Agent Smith?
I haven’t even gone into all of the plot holes I noticed. I do hope “Hunted” can work out the flaws and issues it seems to be having with its story-telling, because there are some potentially good ideas and characters to work with here. It’s not encouraging that these problems are emerging in what is only its second episode. In addition, setting much of the story in Turner’s labyrinthine house does the show no favours and creates an overall claustrophobic air, confining the characters within narrow constraints both physically and plot-wise. I suppose it might be on purpose… but it’s not having the desired effect. I really want to see Turner do more than just skulk about his own hallways; he should be allowed use all that leashed energy to be the ruthless criminal he’s supposed to be.
You can watch “Hunted’s” second episode, “LB”, for a limited time on BBC One’s Web site.
I’m not at all pleased by the murkiness of this episode’s screengrabs, but they were the best I could get. Just contrast this BBC publicity photo (via the Huffington Post) with what was broadcast:
Look, bright colours! (Turner does like his reds and purples.) If the entire show had been lit and filmed like this, I would’ve been a much happier viewer.