Sophie Died On 'The Night Manager' & Her Death Is An Unfortunate One
The first death on the AMC spy thriller minisieries The Night Manager will probably not be its last. This updated adaptation of John le Carré's 1993 novel pits an ex-military hotelier named Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) against an international arms dealer with a spotless public image. Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie) and his company supply foreign governments with weapons powerful enough to decimate entire towns. This is a cat-and-mouse game with global repercussions. The first immediate victim the audience mourns is Sophie Alekan (Aure Atika), the mistress of Freddie Hamid, one of Roper's customers. Sophie is murdered in Pine's hotel after handing over evidence of Hamid and Roper's arms deal. Her death is the catalyst for much of the action and the last shed of proof Pine needs to realize how ruthless these people are.
Seen a spy movie before? Then you probably realized the moment that Sophie glided by the concierge desk that she wouldn't make it out of the first episode alive. Sophie is lovely and self-aware. She knows exactly who Hamid and her friends are, and she knows she's about as important to him as a car or a 3D-enabled TV. He "owns" her too. Sophie is also impeccably dressed, always calm, and the very picture of Act I tragedy. The Nefrititi Hotel guest lives just long enough to draw Pine into the action and to get him to drop the professional act and fall for her. There's a love scene in a safe house bedroom that has to be lighting up Tom Hiddleston fan Tumblrs with gifs right now.
By the end of the episode, Sophie is appearing to Pine as a ghostly vision, four years after her death at the hands of Hamid or one of his friends. Pine is haunted by her murder and his unwitting role in it. He couldn't save her from her fate, but he's been waiting for an opportunity to make things right. And hey, "fridging" is a popular conceit in this genre. Think of how many dead women James Bond has avenged.
The Night Manager can fortunately boast some feminist wins. It's helmed by female director Susanne Bier. And Olivia Colman's International Enforcement Agent character Angela Burr was a man in the book. But, it's hard not to be frustrated by the predictable killing of a non-white female character in order to drive the story forward and to give the hero some noble regrets. Sophie spent most of her screen time talking to and about the men in her life. The only personal detail the audience ever gets about Sophie is that she changed her name from Samira because she was enamored with the West. And then boom, she's dead.
So far, I'm enjoying The Night Manager, warts and all. Angela made quite a first impression as a determined dog with a bone in this first episode, and I'm eager to see where she goes from here. I'm also hopeful that Roper's Hitchcock Blonde girlfriend Jed (Elizabeth Debicki) will bust some gangster's moll stereotypes. But to some degree, Sophie's death will hang over the rest of the miniseries. And, I suppose that was the idea all along.