Written by Frank Spotnitz
Directed by Alrick Riley
Every episode of “Hunted” has been a strong continuation of the one preceding, but that’s finally paying off as this episode is able to keep up the level of engagement and interest it garnered last episode. Part of that’s due to the Sam-heavy focus, but the writers are still taking steps to peel back the characters and keep them as the interesting core of the show’s byzantine workings.
In “Ambassadors”, Aiden’s identity as the mole is compromised and he’s forced to work against Byzantium for his own survival, and to protect the secrets of Sam, who has an enlightening chat with the man posing as Dr. Goebel. Working together, Sam and Aiden seek out the truth behind Hourglass and why it’s so determined to have Sam killed. Meanwhile, Ian takes a chance to get closer to Jack Turner, who is cleaning up loose ends, and Deacon struggles with the steps he must take to keep Byzantium’s operation secure.
The focus on Sam’s backstory and mythology is a bit of a mixed blessing. She’s always been the most engaging part of “Hunted” and until last episode, the show was severely floundering when it took its eye away from her mission and concentrated on the Turner operation. It was nice to see the show delve deeper into that plotline than ever, between her connection to Dr. Goebel, the trip to the countryside and a fateful meeting at the National Gallery (which seems to be London’s go-to spot for clandestine meetings). But while Frank Spotnitz manages to up the ante on intrigue, the ultimate reveal of what Hourglass really is flies in the face of the show’s otherwise grounded sensibility.
Aiden is evolving into a solid co-protagonist, as Adam Rayner gets more and more of his own material to chew on. His interrogation scenes and the escape from Byzantium were both very well-done; the former helped shore up dynamics and characterisations that would be vital to latter parts of the episode, while the latter was an exciting series of action scenes, decent stunt work and good style on the part of director Alrick Riley. Adding some honesty to his relationship with Sam really helped put the two on a level playing field, and despite some ongoing deceptions, we come away from the episode feeling like Aiden is on the side of the angels in this whole mess.
The other Byzantium characters are becoming more interesting too. Aiden’s dynamic with Deacon in the interrogation scenes is the hook into the latter character, so that when he visits his priest friend again, we care about his dilemma and feel as though Deacon is a genuinely moral person in an impossible situation. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje has always brought a brilliant presence to his roles, and finally it feels like he’s getting to use it in “Hunted”. Similarly, Stephen Dillane’s character feels like he’s emerging from the shadows a bit more. He’s still maddeningly ambiguous, but it seems like the actor and writers have made a firm decision what side of the line he stands on, and the performance has subsequently become a little more sinister and interesting.
There was some movement on the Turner plotline, but most of it is confined to the last act, with the time before devoted to digging a bit further into Jack and his son’s psyche. On the whole, “Ambassadors” is an episode that develops the characters involved in this tapestry of intrigue and death, so that when the show is ready to delve back into the Turner operation, we’re going to care a lot more about what’s going on. It was a necessary instalment, and a rather good one at that.