Episode Six: “Polyhedrus”
BBC One says:
Sam suspects that Jack Turner intends to assassinate Fatima Zahir, a Pakistani presidential candidate opposed to the sale of the dam he is trying to buy. Sam and the team race to save Zahir’s life, only to discover Turner has an even more important target – a scientist possessing a deadly secret that implicates Byzantium’s own client.
It’s funny how Byzantium has all of these little tasks to complete, and Jack Turner keeps doing end runs around them. Did I say, “funny”? I meant, “delightful”. 🙂 Who says Turner is the bad guy again? I realize Frank Spotnitz has Turner’s comeuppance planned for some time very soon, so as much as I wish Turner would get away with absolutely everything he’s doing and flee unscathed to the West Indies, I must enjoy his glorious nefariousness while I can. 😉 This episode was a little light in Turner goodness, but we did have a couple of scenes to enjoy.
A Cryptic Fax
The episode opens in Islamabad, Pakistan, with presidential candidate Fatima Zahir (Meera Syal) about to embark on a fund-raising trip to London, to help keep the dam in Pakistani hands. Her nephew, Umair Qassani (Phaldut Sharma), sends a mysterious fax before her departure, and he’s willing to kill to prevent his action being discovered. The cryptic fax is received in… Turner’s home office, of course. Turner seems pleased, but Bingham is uncharacteristically cautious: “I know how important this is, but the risks are considerable.” A deed in the making that makes even Bingham hesitate! Turner’s answer to this is to stand up, look Bingham in the eye, and say, “I will do whatever it takes, however long it takes. Do you understand?” in a way that not only brooks no disagreement, it whacks disagreement over the head and throws it in the Thames. Bingham reaffirms his loyalty – because really, any other answer would be stupid – and Turner seems to accept his words, but he does look thoughtful in a “what would it take to replace Bingham?” way. Turner then proceeds to burn the fax, looking quite mesmerized by the bright flame as he does so. You watch one paint factory fire as a child, and you’re hooked on them for life.
In another part of chez Turner, Stephen and Sam have just finished having sex (oh Stephen, we tried to warn you!). “That was nice,” says Sam (See?? Poor Stephen!). Stephen notices the scar from the attempt on Sam’s life, which she explains away as the result of the fictional accident that took the lives of her equally fictional husband and son. She’s later picked up for a briefing by Aidan, who, upon being told of the reason for her late arrival, gives one of the least convincing portrayals of jealousy I’ve ever seen, demanding to know why Sam chose that course of action (ie. sleeping with Stephen) in remarkably flat, uninflected tones. It would be easier to have tension or doubt about Aidan’s veracity concerning his and Sam’s relationship if he were more convincing about it and actually expressed some emotion in his voice or face, or if he had some teensy, tiny amount of chemistry with Sam, but he doesn’t. It’s an unfortunately large weak spot in what is supposed to be one of the central relationships of this show.
An Assassination Attempt?
The usual expository Byzantium briefing provides viewers with a brief recap of events thus far. We’re also informed that Turner has put his entire £1 billion into liquidity in preparation for buying the dam, and that the fax he received is connected with the murder in the Pakistani airport. Aidan suggests that Sam get details from Stephen on what might be going on (isn’t “assassination attempt” an obvious guess?); she replies that Stephen knows nothing about his father’s criminal activities (which, when you think about it, is quite amazing, really; Jack is a self-made multi-millionaire crimelord and has been one for a long while, and Stephen didn’t look that surprised at seeing a captive in his dad’s basement in episode two). Instead, Sam says that she’ll get details from Lewis Conroy, and seems genuinely surprised and surprisingly remorseful (was she really that close to Lewis?) to learn that Lewis is dead, killed at Turner’s order, to cover for Sam’s being spotted at Cage’s murder scene. We do get one plot hole slightly plugged after the briefing: Keel tells Crane that he thinks Aidan is lying about being the mole, Sam knows about it, and they’re working together. Keel says he’ll take care of Aidan and Sam, then nips off to the loo to throw up, as expressionlessly as he does everything else (this is actually explained later). Fowkes gets to miss the meeting because he’s off buying a sniper rifle and inadvertently participating in a double homicide with Tyrone.
Sam does some more snooping and discovers the Khyber dam’s technical specifications in Stephen’s bedroom (not that surprising, really) listing Dr. Arthur Hill (Rob Jarvis), the man she rescued in Tangier in episode one, as one of Polyhedrus’ engineers. Meanwhile, the rest of the Byzantium Spy Kids (I just love that term – thank you, Admin!) connect Tyrone’s sniper rifle purchase with a possible assassination attempt on Fatima Zahir.
The Bodies Are Piling Up
The next morning, Stephen learns of Lewis Conroy’s death, which the police are ruling a double murder (of his secretary and her husband) and suicide. Turner is appropriately “shocked and surprised” to hear of it, saying he “didn’t see that one coming” and describing Lewis as a “good friend to this family” – which didn’t keep him from having Lewis rubbed out once he became a liability, of course. But that’s why we love Jack Turner. He’s so unrepentantly evil! Stephen decides to meet with D.I. Everett (Jonny Phillips), not knowing that he’s his Dad’s “clean-up” man, to give him further details about Conroy.
A Message (Improbably) Retrieved
While everyone else is inexplicably occupied, Sam once again snoops through Turner’s office (a-GAIN!! such an over-used plot device! seriously, why doesn’t he lock the door?? have surveillance on it?? a trip wire?? alarms??) and discovers ashes and fragments of the burned fax, which she collects to give to Zoe (Morven Christie) for possible deciphering. However, given the fascination with which Turner watched those flames, I highly doubt he’d have left any fragments that were readable (as shown), let alone any that also had unburnt edges (also as shown) or hadn’t crumbled into ash. Due to a deus ex machina CSI-type magical scanner (sponsored by HP!), Zoe does manage to obtain a partially legible, if cryptic, message: “[garbled] C 4 – I am trusting you”, which puzzles the Byzantium Spy Kids since they can’t figure out how it connects to Fatima Zahir.
Stephen then meets with Everett (observed by a suspicious Bingham) in an attempt to defend his dead friend. He says it wasn’t possible for Conroy to commit suicide, and asks why Conroy’s death isn’t being investigated in conjunction with Vincent Cage’s, since the two men were so closely connected. Everett says he’ll look into it, but Stephen is not reassured when he sees Everett conferring at length with Bingham outside the house.
Stephen is observed in his observing by Jack (now he appears! but never when Sam’s snooping in his office!), who offers a “You all right, Stevie?” by way of expressing some sympathy (or facsimile thereof) for Lewis’ death. Stephen asks how the bid’s doing; Turner replies that they just have to persuade Soomro (the Pakistani government minister overseeing the dam’s sale) to accept Turner’s bid over the Chinese one, adding (with a cocky grin) that he’s “working on it”. Stephen finally asks in a round-about way how the extra £32 million appeared so fortuitously in their portfolio right when they needed it; Turner answers, with a masterful lack of detail, that they were “just lucky”, gives Stephen a reassuring(?) smile and pat on the shoulder, and disappears into his office (which is, for once, empty of snoopers). Stephen doesn’t question this rather sparse type of explanation, which seems to have worked successfully on him for the past thirty-odd years of his life.
More Byzantium Antics
Meanwhile, Crane and Aidan case the venue for Fatima Zahir’s speech (how they got into such a secure location, let alone have the time to leisurely examine it, is not shown), while Sam tracks down Dr. Arthur Hill. He claims to know nothing about Bernard Faroux, why Faroux had him kidnapped and tortured in episode one, or anything about Hourglass or why Polyhedrus/Hourglass would want Sam dead, but she’s convinced he’s lying. Sam manages to steal Hill’s ID and sneak into Polyhedrus, where she conveniently discovers the same cryptic fax received by Turner (does no one shred documents?) amongst other papers conveniently available on Hill’s desk. However, her use of Hill’s ID is detected and for once, Sam’s amazing fighting powers seem to desert her; she gives up without a struggle when faced by ten (only ten!) security guards when she tries to escape Polyhedrus. She’s later bailed out by Keel, whose Polyhedrus connections presumably tell him that one of his agents is being held. I suppose I should also mention that we discover Keel is afflicted with a malignant brain tumour at this point, explaining his nausea and a few other mysterious details; he’s as emotionlessly lobster-like about his illness as he is about everything else – he could be discussing his groceries – which makes it rather hard to feel any sympathy for him.
Stephen Finally Becomes Suspicious
Now it’s Stephen who decides to go snooping in his Dad’s office(!! I suppose he’s the only one left who hasn’t, except maybe for Eddie), and he discovers documents describing “underground London”, though he doesn’t immediately connect them with the Goncourt blast. Amazingly enough, he’s surprised in the act by Bingham, who’s never once managed to catch Sam in her repeated snooping trips. Bingham reminds Stephen that he’s in his father’s office, and Stephen somewhat snippishly asserts that he has a right to go anywhere in his own home and furthermore, Bingham works for him, to which Bingham flatly replies, “I work for your father, sir.” Stephen then accuses Bingham of threatening him (he really should be far more afraid of his Dad), chastises him for “the kind of work” he does for Turner, and attempts to shame Bingham by asking what happened to the man in the basement. For his part, Bingham doesn’t appear concerned by Stephen’s words at all; he’s more interested in getting Stephen out of Turner’s office. However, the incident does cause Stephen to google his suspicions at last and connect the extra £32 million with the Goncourt explosion. It’s a bit surprising that this is the first time in Stephen’s life that he’s ever thought to question where his father’s money comes from, though he’s described it as “dirty” in the past, but I suppose he had to wait for the camera to be on him to do it.
R.I.P. Rafi the Rabbit
Back at the fund-raising conference, Crane and Aidan explain to Fatima Zahir that she’s at risk for an assassination attempt, but she decides to go ahead with her speech anyway. Fowkes, who’s been instructed not to let Tyrone out of his sight, has the surreal experience of assisting in kidnapping a middle-aged man in a fluffy, white rabbit costume (Douglas McFerran – who is seriously listed in the credits as “Rafi the Rabbit”) for purpose or purposes as yet unknown. Alas, it’s poor Rafi’s role to be unceremoniously shot by Tyrone in the trunk of a car, much to Fowkes’ shock and anger; I guess the Byzantium employment Web site never mentioned situations like these in their job descriptions. It’s worth noting that Tyrone wears gloves throughout the murder while Byzantium agent Fowkes does not; this ends up being rather important later.
A Father/Son Confrontation
We finally get to the best scene in the entire episode. Back at chez Turner, Stephen screws his courage to the sticking post and asks for a word with his father, “alone”. Turner starts out being surprisingly gentle with Stephen, saying, “Bingham said you’d had words” and that he can understand if Stephen’s upset about Lewis. However, Stephen jumps straight into it, asking if his father thinks he’s stupid and saying that he knows Turner wasn’t “just lucky”; he accuses Turner of causing the explosion at Goncourt to generate the £32 million overnight and emphasizes that a woman was killed. At first, Turner denies knowing what Stephen’s talking about, but Stephen persists, saying that he’s Jack’s son. This, surprisingly, causes Turner to hesitate for a long moment, looking uncharacteristically uncomfortable and at a loss for words, before he finally says, somewhat reluctantly, “I tell you what you need to know.” Stephen counters that he needs to know the truth, and he accuses Turner of never having any intention of going legitimate with the dam. This inadvertently touches off what seems to be a very sore spot with his father, and his tone becomes angry: “That word… legitimate. Do you really think these men you went to your fancy schools with, these bankers and lawyers, are any better than your own father?” (We see more than a hint of class consciousness/inferiority issues at play there, as well as anger; all of the things Turner must have experienced on his way up and is still experiencing.) Stephen replies that such men never get anyone killed. Turner tells him to read the papers and find out what’s really happening in the world; he then sarcastically asks if Stephen is “crying ’cause [he] wants respect.” Stephen spits back that he doesn’t want Turner’s respect and in a sudden change of mood, Turner’s voice breaks with emotion (he almost seems near tears!) as he says, “You’ll respect the life I built for you, and for your son!”
It’s a very surprising moment of genuine hurt and human vulnerability from our previously (nearly) impervious crimelord. To go all analytical for a moment, this is a man who’s still wearing a wedding ring from a long-dead spouse, suggesting he has a strong sense of attachment. His son and grandson are all he has left of his family, and his hurt gives us a tiny glimpse of what all of this means to him. But Stephen rejects both his father’s words and sentiment, angrily declaring that his father’s way of life is “wrong” and he and Eddie should have left a long time ago. Turner then instantly switches gears from vulnerability to aggression, turning on Stephen and growling that he can leave at any time, “but you’ll never take my grandson.” (A promise, a threat, or both?) There’s a bit of a stare-down, then Stephen stomps off and Jack stands pensively for a moment or two… perhaps calculating how easily he could be rid of Stephen…? It’s a great scene!! Totally worth the entire price of admission! Very well acted by both Stephen Campbell Moore and Patrick Malahide.
The Real Target
Back at the Asia Promise Society, Madame Zahir’s speech takes place without even a whiff of trouble and it appears Aidan and Crane may have been chasing a red herring. Tyrone drops off Fowkes at a nondescript set of flats and tells him to wait in number 33, which turns out to belong to… our dearly departed friend, Rafi the Rabbit. A large picture of a rabbit and a picture of the man himself (which he keeps next to his own phone – seriously, this guy must be very lonely, a single guy who loves rabbits and lives alone – sort of like a crazy cat lady, but a crazy rabbit guy) are obvious identifiers of whose flat it is. The Byzantium Spy Kids have just figured out that Arthur Hill is going to have a whistle-blowing meeting with Zahir when Zoe gets a frantic and seemingly incoherent phone call from Fowkes, saying that Tyrone murdered Rafi the Rabbit and Fowkes is waiting in Rafi the Rabbit’s flat. It’s truly a sign that “Hunted” takes itself far too seriously when Zoe’s line of “You’re waiting in Rafi the Rabbit’s flat… for what?” doesn’t cause any of the other agents in the car to so much as crack a smile or even look quizzical, nor does Zoe ask Fowkes if he’s been doing drugs. No one (except Turner) has a sense of humour around here!
Fowkes does at least realize that Rafi’s flat is conveniently located next to Zahir’s hotel. The Byzantium Spy Kids race over and scramble all over the hotel to figure out where the meeting’s taking place, before Sam brilliantly deduces from a “you are here” map and the fax she stole from Polyhedrus that Zahir and Hill are in the Winston Spencer Churchill suite (she’s Byzantium’s best agent!). They get there in time to interrupt Hill, who has just said that he was responsible for thousands of deaths – whereupon he’s promptly shot through the head by Tyrone from the roof of Rafi the Rabbit’s building across the way, having been Turner’s real target the entire time. See what I mean about Turner doing end runs?? He accomplished exactly what he wanted to accomplish and Byzantium was in a reactionary role during the whole thing. He’s a brilliant strategist! Who’s two steps ahead now, Stannis?? 😉
Fowkes the Patsy
Madame Zahir, who is apparently cannier than all of Byzantium put together, rapidly figures out that her nephew Umair was the only one who knew of her secret meeting with Hill and therefore was her mole, a deduction that takes her only two seconds where it took Byzantium five episodes! Meanwhile, Fowkes belatedly realizes he’s being set up as the patsy for Hill’s death, complete with his fingerprints (remember, Tyrone wore gloves, he didn’t) all over the murder weapon, which was discarded by Tyrone onto Rafi’s balcony while Fowkes was rather half-assedly waiting in the flat to be told what to do next. Fowkes legs it just ahead of the cops. We do hope he gets away; he and Zoe are among the few entertaining non-Turner elements of this show.
Stephen Goes Over to the Dark Side
Meanwhile, Stephen has apparently decided to take a leaf or two out of his Dad’s book. He offers D.I. Everett double what Bingham’s paying him to tell him anything that Everett finds out, before he tells Bingham. Stephen offers a downpayment of £10,000 which Everett accepts, and his first installment is a packet of information about “Alex Kent”: “She’s not who you think she is.” Ooo, cliffhanger!
Next Episode Teaser
The teaser for the next episode shows Stephen demanding answers from Sam, and a very nattily dressed Turner (trilby! overcoat! red and navy tie! red scarf!) having what looks like an old-school confrontation with Soomro down at the docks (it’ll be kind of interesting to see Turner at the docks again). “I hope you don’t expect pity,” says Soomro, and Turner replies, “Nah, not pity… respect,” finishing in dead serious tones. We also see Turner startled by a drop of blood falling into the water while shaving. Is it a nosebleed? What can it portend?? Our fearless Admin theorizes that it may have something to do with the Mysterious Briefcase™, and I think that’s correct – but we really don’t want to see Turner die of some horrible disease!
There was a lot of back and forth in this episode, but at least it wasn’t claustrophobic. We got very little Turner, but the bits we did get – indirectly threatening Bingham (who really should know better) and being confronted by Stephen – were wonderful. I especially enjoyed Patrick Malahide’s portrayal of the ever-so-tiny cracks that seem to appear in Turner’s armour whenever particular sore points are touched; first we had the mention of Jack Junior in the previous episode, and now we see a smidgen of class consciousness, insecurity, and even envy, combined with a sheer predatory and protective instinct for his family, but especially his grandson. It seems Turner has the creation of a dynasty in mind, and Malahide gives him exactly the right sort of fierceness and drive.
And I simply must mention… Turner’s remarkable sartorial splendour in this episode. We’ve long been aware of (and enjoyed! don’t get me wrong) his fondness for bright colours, reds and purples in particular, but there are very few men who would, or could, combine a pink-striped shirt, blue suspenders, and a purple tie, AND get away with it. I can only theorize that it must be to lull his opponents into a false sense of security, or that it acts as protective camouflage, because people would assume no one wearing something like that could possibly be dangerous. Anyway, I’m not complaining or criticizing at all! I am merely awestruck and admiring. 🙂 Turner’s flamboyant clothing choices suit him perfectly.
You can watch “Polyhedrus” online for a limited time on BBC One’s Web site.