The Night Agent

For viewers everywhere, the Night Agent is an interesting watch.


Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 by PLBechly

The White House is an iconic symbol of the American government.

West Wing, The Recruit, Scandal, House of Cards, Madam Secretary—political dramas are, for some unknown reason, wildly popular with American audiences. This fervor has recently peaked with Netflix series The Night Agent, a show investigating the dark, inner workings of bureaucratic agencies through the use of compelling character arcs, surprise twists, and incredibly 2000s mood lighting in order to push American nationalism…somehow.

Beginning with a scene set years before the events of the show, The Night Agent pulls audiences in by dropping them in medias res, setting up one of the cleanest subplots in recent television in the process. The series then follows White House agent Peter Sutherland (played by Gabriel Basso) as he attempts to unearth a conspiracy threatening the integrity of the United States government as well as his own image.

On a positive note, the show has excellent pacing: episodes were concise and lacked dead moments while the season itself adhered to a time-tested, standard narrative arc without hitting a dead area pre-turning point. Additionally, The Night Agent has an exceptional understanding of its own tone as well as how to modify it in order to create and subvert tension. Exemplifying this, the series’ use of dramatic mood lighting summons tension like secret service reinforcements but is selectively abandoned in favor of bright, natural light—a masterclass in juxtaposition. When paired with the protagonist’s actually interesting character arc in addition to the show’s copious amount of surprise twists, it’s easy to see why many think The Night Agent needs a promotion.

However, all is not well at The Capitol. Despite having a stereotypically rule-breaking American protagonist that succeeds due to his willingness to, well, break the rules, The Night Agent ultimately pushes for unappealing, rank-and-file behavior among viewers by shielding all but the leader complicit in the show’s conspiracy from terribly significant consequences. Thus, the show frames most of the U.S. government as entirely innocuous in their behavior…which is curious.

So, while The Night Agent may be an excellent show on paper, its conflicting messages put a damper on the excitement. Still, one cannot judge an American show for being lowkey propaganda. Just kidding, someone needs to veto that.