“No one in the White House can be trusted,” is the timely refrain that encapsulates Netflix’s new 10-episode political thriller, The Night Agent.
Set in Washington, D.C. with scenes at Georgetown University and Camp David, the series is derived from Matthew Quirk’s 2019 novel of the same name.
Gabriel Basso, most noted for his performances in Showtime’s The Big C, plays the lead character, Peter Sutherland, an FBI agent assigned to phone duty in the basement of the White House. Alone at a desk, he awaits rare phone calls from endangered counterintelligence agents. When asked why he chose the FBI over the Secret Service, Sutherland replies, “I’m not dumb enough to take a bullet for somebody just because they got more votes than the other guy.”
Hiding from a gunman involved in the murders of her aunt and uncle, Rose Larkin (Luciane Buchanan), fresh off being fired by the board of her cybersecurity start-up, calls the Night Action number and begins a series-long comradeship with Agent Sutherland. There’s enough romance to provide some counterbalance to the program’s shoot-outs and chase scenes.
A political action drama, set in the nation’s capital with much of the intrigue centered in the White House, and not once during the series does the viewer hear the terms, Democrat or Republican.
To which party do the president and vice president belong?
One can only surmise from vague allusions such as the president’s chief of staff referring to a James O’Keefe-like character as a “conspiracy theory troll spreading lies.” Departing the White House, she tells Sutherland that she’s off to a meeting with the “Scotch and Viagra crowd.” In a strained conversation with the Deputy Chief of the FBI, she says, “I’m not a f***ing Washington Post reporter–don’t spin me.”
Nevertheless, with lines so blurred today, it’s hard to know to which party the fictional administration belongs. The absence of party designations sullies the plausibility of the thriller.
Unlike network television where viewers need to wait weeks to get to the end of a series, The Night Agent can be binged in one sitting. If closed captioning is employed, often viewers will read, “Ominous music playing.” The program is rife with villains–good guys are as rare as double-yolk eggs.
There’s a touch of propaganda. In one scene, institutional racism is alluded to when after her training graduation, a black female Secret Service agent meets with her mother. The mother laments, “Why would I want my daughter risking her life for a country that doesn’t give a damn about her.”
If viewers enjoy Prime Video’s Jack Ryan, BBC’s Bodyguard, or AMC’s The Night Manager, The Night Agent should be equally entertaining.