Descent and Dissent as ‘Hijack’ ups the exterior fear factor…

With a casualty onboard and more revelations about the 'cause', will the Kingdom flight be able to land?

The young hijacker, Lewis, is still in critical condition and though ‘stable’ needs immediate medical attention. Sam sees an opportunity to get the plane to land and works out a sleight of hand that may mean the hijackers can be convinced to continue their hijack on the ground.

But even as they work together to land in Hungary, more details about those who are truly behind the attack begin to emerge and the frightening length of their reach to ensure the desired outcome… and it becomes clear that no-one on the plane or the ground may have the actual power to stop the hijack going forward…



As said in previous reviews, Hijack is consistently distilling the elements of shows like 24 down into their base elements, getting rid of any excess baggage – there’s nary a wasted scene so far, each one either acting as an impetus to what’s going to happen or a reaction to what’s already happening. You might be able to tell from the number of episodes left that things aren’t going to run smoothly and work out as planned, but there’s really no certainty as to what is going to happen. And that’s a pretty rare boast for modern tv…

For instance, in this episode, with young hijacker Lewis Atterton (Jack McMullen) fighting for his life and literally breathing through a pen, there’s a plan (instigated by Elba’s Sam Nelson) to use this as an excuse to land the plane for emergency care. Sam seems to genuinely want the boy to live, but also pragmatically knows it’ll be easier to end the stand-off if the plane is on a runway rather than in the skies. As hijackers on the plane, politicians on the ground and security forces mull over options, you – as the audience – are genuinely not sure whether the plane will be allowed to land or not. Literally until the last few minutes, it could go either way – the story continuing for another two episodes to be sure, but will it be above the clouds or under them?

Though there are some dramatic contrivances to make things play out as they do, this is a series where almost everyone is pretty smart – using their intelligence under pressure for better or worse. Even five episodes in, Sam Nelson’s impressive strengths remain in the cerebral, drawing on his uber-negotiating techniques to work his way into and out of situations. He’s the one who reacts fast enough to get word back to the doctor to give Stuart the (possible) misinformation about Lewis’ chances of survival and also sees the Hungarian badge on co-pilot Anna’s badge, formulating a covert way to get more information to the country below them when she takes the controls.

Amid the political agendas and the overt passing of the buck among governmental officials covering mainly for themselves and their positions, Max Beesley’s Daniel continues to be the more straight-arrow and decisive element on terra firma. He’s sent to find Lewis’ mother Elaine (whom you’ll remember got the dying message from her son last week) to see if she can give more information about the other hijackers. Yes, there’s a fundamental mistake (albeit plot necessity) in letting Elaine Atterton (played by veteran Ruth Sheen) out of his sight (as an audience you’re muttering ‘bad idea’ from the start) but as a sequence – with Elaine effectively committing suicide on the nearby motorway rather than being taken into custody –  it’s the series’ way of upping the stakes.

We have two significant developments relating to the background of the hijacking. The UK government receives demand for the release of two prisoners, apparently high-up controllers of an international cartel, so we now know this isn’t a monetary concern. We also now know that however intimidating the actual on-plane hijackers are – and Neil Maskell’s ‘Stuart’ can Olympically sneer for England –  those people controlling and funding them (those imprisoned kingpins or their representatives) are far more able to instill fear into their operatives to continue with the mission – at any cost – than risk failing. Whether this ultimately helps the show or not, we’ll see… so far one of the strengths has been grounding the show in a dramatic but plausible reality of desperate people and desperate hostages but now having off-camera people (apparently a cartel involved in drug-running, sex-traffiking and general awful behaviour) so scary that even hardened villains and their families will die rather than going up against them almost feels too nefarious. However, it does point to a way a second season could go, albeit away from the plane scenario.

There’s no question that Sam’s decision to get behind the idea of the landing and then aborting the landing is mostly a personal one. He now knows that there could be a danger to family members (his – and others) on the ground if the hijack doesn’t continue and he goes with that imperative rather than giving the passengers a possible way out of it all. How that will affect his standing with both the hijackers and the passengers is still an awkward question. This shadowy cartel seems to have its fingers everywhere and we leave proceedings with Sam’s son Kai very much in danger as those evil wetworkers apparently going fully international and entering Sam’s (VERY!) luxury London apartment (They apparently got such info from his passport?). What are they looking for and will young Kai survive?  (It’s a rule of the genre we have to have offspring in danger at some point!)

We’ll probably find out next week…


'Hijack S01 EP05  - Less than an Hour'  (AppleTV+ review)
'Hijack S01 EP05 - Less than an Hour' (AppleTV+ review)
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