'The night agent', the unforeseen phenomenon while the media were watching 'Succession'

The media were awaiting the premiere of Succession, which returned on Monday, as if it were the quintessential television phenomenon.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
31 March 2023 Friday 00:03
66 Reads
'The night agent', the unforeseen phenomenon while the media were watching 'Succession'

The media were awaiting the premiere of Succession, which returned on Monday, as if it were the quintessential television phenomenon. It is what high-end television, adult and intelligent, is supposed to be, and on top of that, the two Emmy awards for best drama series endorse this enthusiasm. The general public, on the other hand, was waiting for a series that we had not even marked on the calendar as an outstanding premiere. I am referring to The Night Agent, the thriller that Netflix released on Thursday of last week and that has swept audiences on the platform.

In legitimate defense, it can be argued that the lack of promotion by Netflix, which had not over-advertised it, did not contribute to having it on the radar. The platform has become accustomed, with few exceptions such as Wednesday, to launching news with hardly any advertising strategy: the content is placed on the cover of the catalog and it must demonstrate its ability to capture the interest of the viewer.

Later, once they analyze the consumer data and see which series have traction, they go all out with the creation of promotional material to sell the image of success, finish convincing the undecided, and convey to the potential audience that the series of the moment they have them, that it is worth subscribing to the service. In Spain, moreover, advertising efforts had focused on the second season of I'm Georgina, the documentary series about Cristiano Ronaldo's wife.

But, when Tuesday night arrived, the moment in which Netflix reports the consumption data of its service, The Night Agent gave a surprise: the ten episodes of the first season had accumulated 168.7 million hours watched in its first four days. It was the third best English-language premiere in the platform's history, only behind Wednesday and Dahmer. With these data, it was out of the question for the inevitable to be announced this morning: that it will have a second season.

And, what is most important for the serial reader, is the series worth it? The simple answer is yes.

The Night Agent centers on Peter Sutherland, a rookie FBI agent who has been answering a secret White House phone since he made headlines after preventing a terrorist attack on the Washington subway. When he gets the call from Rose, who gets the number of her uncles, who she didn't know were secret agents, the two find themselves at the center of a conspiracy that could end American democracy. Finding out the truth with no one to trust, not even the White House, turns out to be hard, especially when they have two brooding mercenaries hot on their heels.

This political thriller does not fall into the category of fiction that redefines the genre or that marvels at finding a way to tell something new. The night agent is absolutely predictable, not because one can imagine what will happen at the plot level (twists are the order of the day, as dictated by the theme) but because it follows the commonplaces of this type of production, both in the narrative as well as the visual.

We get a “newbie finds himself in the eye of the storm” starting point spiced up with a “I must restore the reputation of my disgraced late father” character plot, an increasingly romantic dynamic between the FBI agent and the star witness, and the constant suspicions towards any character that appears in the shot, waiting for everything to be resolved in those ten episodes. Behind, after all, is a scriptwriter as experienced as Shawn Ryan, who has moved on prestigious television with the creation of The Shield or Terriers and also on more commercial grounds with Lie to Me and SWAT.

As I said, it does not invent anything and it could well make an effort to have personality, but the advantage is that it is well resolved, Gabriel Basso and Luciane Buchanan work in the skin of the protagonists, their search for the truth has a pulse and has enough twists and suspicions to keep the viewer on edge. In fact, it would be interesting to be able to better analyze the Netflix figures, to see if the viewing records are due to the number of marathons executed by the incautious who started the series, who found a classic and effective fiction.

If recent phenomena such as Wednesday or The Night Agent on Netflix, Preacher on Amazon or Yellowstone on SkyShowtime are of any use, it is to understand that, no matter how much the public lived through the third golden age of series, often all they want is a easy and recognizable entertainment.