The Night Manager episode 5 review: explosions, death and a return to Cairo set up an exciting finale

The death of Corky and some pretty smart double-dealing have racked up the tension in the penultimate instalment of the Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie thriller

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Well, that was an explosive hour. Yes there were the usual tense machinations (more of that later) but this will be remembered as the episode where Richard Roper held his “fireworks display” of weaponry in the desert. And the one where Corky was killed.

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Half the drama’s budget (rumoured to be £18m for all six episodes) seemed to have been spent on the nighttime display, when Roper showed off his weapons to his buyer. Surface-to-air missiles, cluster bombs, aircraft falling down.

“Nothing quite as pretty as Napalm at night,” was Roper’s typically cruel and understated assessment.

The setting was The Haven, Roper’s little empire of mercenaries in the desert where his entourage were holed up.

But that was not the only surprise. Jed and Corky suddenly arrived, Tom Hollander’s Major C bringing an arsenal of his own, although his weapon of choice consisted mainly of sneaky little asides to Pine and Jed about about their nighttime assignations in Majorca.

But of course, he didn’t get a chance to squeal. Just when he thought he had caught Pine trying to escape, Pine turned the tables on him and battered him to death, having already planted the idea in Roper’s mind that Corky was the Judas in his midst.

Normally you’d feel sorry for a man who was usurped by the young and good-looking interloper who then double-crossed him and smashed his face to a pulp. But Corky isn’t the kind of man who elicits enormous amounts of sympathy. Remember what he said after the suicide of Apostol’s daughter at her own birthday party? “Still, the canapés were good”.

It was rough but appropriate justice.

And to add insult to Corky’s (extensive) injuries, Roper didn’t seem overly upset at the death of one of his oldest friends. He didn’t so much as grieve as look mildly put out. And Roper’s bodyguards even made a joke of it after they had interred his corpse. “That’s the smallest grave I ever dug,” quipped one.

You could write a whole essay on the banality of evil in this drama, the way atrocities are committed with public school indifference, horrors made palatable by their posh perpetrators with horrific English understatement and cut-glass accents. It’s been a compelling and revolting aspect of this series all along.

Apostol, we learned, was “no longer with us” (you could say that about someone whose throat had been slit from ear to ear in his own bed) while Roper (again) explained Corky’s absence to Jed by insisting that he had a dicky tummy.

But we know what really gets Roper going: it was the weapons that really stirred his juices.

“War is a spectator sport,” he told Pine (now known as Andrew Birch). “ We are the emperors of Rome, Andrew. Blood and steel, the only elements that meant anything.”

Elsewhere, Roper’s chums at MI6 seemed to have Roper’s back, scaring off Angela (Olivia Colman) and alerting their man to the whole investigation. Which was why the final moments – when we thought his arms dump was about to be unearthed by the US military – went awry. He had put agricultural machinery in the trucks because he knew he was being followed. Smart.

All of which means that Joel (David Harewood’s CIA operative) thinks Angela’s “boy” has been turned by Roper – but he couldn’t be more wrong.

Angela seems to retain her faith in Pine, but things have become even more personal for her after her home was raided and her husband was clunked over the head.

And Pine himself? Well, he is back where he started, in the Nefertiti Hotel. Even Freddie Hamid is back and in on the fun – but will they recognise their former Night Manager? 

Things couldn’t be better set up for next week’s final episode…

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The final episode of The Night Manager is on BBC next Sunday at 9pm