Unfriendly Skies: Rapid ‘Responding’ as ‘Hijack’ goes fourth…

Hijack's fourth episode raises more questions and keeps up the tension as blood starts to flow...

A shot has been fired aboard the hijacked Kingdom Airlines flight – but who has been hit?  As efforts are made to hide the dead and tend the damage to the wounded, it’s clear that things are falling apart aboard the aircraft and already tense nerves are starting to shred on all sides.

Meanwhile, on the ground, decisions are being made for a variety of agendas. Soon it becomes not just a case of protecting the passengers from the hijackers but from the military forces scared that the plane may now be nothing but a missile heading to their capital cities…



Four episodes in to Hijack and the show has really kept up the level of restrained chaos – with flashes of violence all the more effective as they are kept to a minimum, underlying that for all its genre-ingredients, this is a series is less about ‘action’ and more about how taught you can pull the rope before ‘tension’ becomes a snapping point.

The previous episode ended with a gunshot and, for a good few minutes of this entry, it was confusing as to who the casualty had been. Sam (Elba) and several passengers had gambled on the hijackers guns being blanks (and it seems likely that some were) but ‘Stuart’ (Neil Maskell) the lead hijacker was armed with the real deal and it turns out the person killed was the blonde passenger who was trying to help locate the missing poppet from last week’s entry. It was a little worrisome that the show might go fully down that ‘where’s the kid gone?’ sub-story-arc (similar to the likes of the Flightpath film which created a ninety minute drama out of Jodie Foster losing her child mid-flight and stretching the head-scratching belief that a child can’t be located on a plane). Thankfully, Hijack‘s wee anklebiter is found within a few minutes of Not Responding‘s start… hiding under a seat and seems somewhat oblivious that her disappearance has caused a fatality.

With one of the younger hijackers, ‘Lewis’ (Jack McMullen) also seriously injured – stabbed during the chaos – Sam uses his limited medical knowledge to help with bandaging the young man. Once again, Hijack impresses by not making Elba’s character a default superhero or an expert on absolutely everything and he can only assist the crew member in treating the fallen man’s wounds rather than perform open heart surgery with one hand tied behind his back… or, in this case, handcuffed. (Ultimately Sam does act by helping push a hollow pen into the wound to help fend off imminent death and clear the victim’s lungs, but it’s interesting to watch Sam make decisions on a fast and pragmatic level that speak more to his mental skills than physicality). Sam’s offer to help Lewis speak to his mother as the hijacker looks likely to die (and assuring him that if his own son – around the same age – was mortally wounded he’d want someone, anyone to help him too) seems benevolent… but he also uses the moment to redirect a voice-message to Sam’s wife so she can relay important details to those working to help the plane on the ground. It’s impressive, dangerous multitasking that likely indicates Sam as a genuinely emotional guy but also a skilled negotiator… still, someone that, four episodes, in we’re still haven’t got a complete handle on which is interesting in itself.  It’s the kind of subtlety that sometimes went astray in later runs of 24 which went for the more stressed, gung-ho approach.

The other danger in Not Responding is diplomatic but with no less problematic. The plane is now flying over Bucharest air-space and fighter jets – responding to the lack of communication – have to perceive the plane as dangerous. As articulated by the captain ‘they don’t see us a hijacked plane, they see us as a potential missile en route to their capital’. It’s noted, with some truth that the UK itself would likely shoot down a passenger plane if they perceived it to be attempting a 9/11 type atrocity on the city long before it ever reached the suburbs. So it’s up to those on the ground at all levels to assure the UK’s allies that the plane isn’t a threat to those countries, only the UK and it should be allowed to continue its route for now. With pilots ready to fire, the negotiations  come down to a few seconds to spare and while you – as an audience – know there’s several episodes to go and therefore the immediate peril will be averted, it’s still edge-of-your-seat stuff.

It’s also interesting that the show is really highlighting that the balance of action and common-sense are being more deftly handled by the low-level players. Sure, Idris Elba is the pivot for the show and it’s fabulous to watch the actor fire on all levels… but it’s Eve Myles’ Alice that’s keeping the correct information in perspective on the ground, Max Beesley’s Daniel connecting dots and even Sam’s ex-wife Marsha (Christine Adams) that are quietly saving the day through their actions thus far…

There are a few more wrinkles thrown into the mix. Why is a team on the ground trying to locate Sam’s address (or, more accurately, his ex-wife’s home) as it seems that there’s been no direct contact between the plane and the ground so far. We’ve been led to believe that Sam’s presence on the plane is purely coincidental, so how do all these pieces fit together?

'Hijack S01 EP04  - Not Responding'  (AppleTV+ review)
'Hijack S01 EP04 - Not Responding' (AppleTV+ review)
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