Comply, Slowly: ‘Hijack’ story expands, but keeps best tension in plane sight…

Adding more nefarious characters to the mix, 'Hijack' is best when it stays with the imperiled passengers and their revolt....

As tensions rise on the Kingdom flight it becomes clear that whether the hijackers like it or not, they are answerable to the whims of those they want released from prison. When a killing is required to ensure that the British government knows they mean business, Sam Nelson comes up with an idea to placate everyone with a devious sleight of hand – but it’s a gambit that will only work once.

Daniel attempts to keep the nefarious Janssen in his sights, but with the politicians vacillating over what to do and with a strategy to ‘comply, but slowly‘, time is running out. Reluctantly Sam agrees that the time has come to defy the risks and take back the aircraft, but who is actually in control and what are the real dangers to Sam’s family back on terra firma?



Coming in to the last two episodes of Hijack and the tension is still mounting and the most interesting challenge remains the mind-games between the plane’s hijackers, the plane’s crew, its passengers… and the various forces on the ground that might hold their fate in their hands. But the broader canvas, by either choice or necessity produces some changes in style.

So far, the series has consolidated and streamlined the best parts of 24 down to their purest forms, but in this penultimate episode we get our first real exposure to the nefarious (and until now incarcerated) men behind the whole event. That means the claustrophobic suspension of disbelief shifts just a little. Now, instead of being up-close-and-personal and a largely contained narrative full of recognisable people in harm’s way, we have an almost Hannibal Lektor type character informing events on the ground (and ultimately in the sky). Mecurial-voiced veteran actor Simon McBurney (a screen veteran and last seen in Carnival Row) gives us a head-shaven ‘Edgar Janssen’ who drips menace and intimidation as he and his partner are released from custody and lead the forces tracking them a slow but determined chase.  It’s perhaps the most overt change of flight pattern for the series and asks you to go along with the in/conveniences of this thread which does feel more like a drama series contrivance than anything that might really happen in such a situation. That being said, the show has earned some of its broader strokes by its previous microscopic intensity to date.

The various politicians and crisis-management team scurry about to-and-fro, spending as much time working out how they can pass the buck in the event of failure. Max Beesley is the driving force, trailing Janssen but powerless to do much to stop him and poor Zahra (Archie Panjabi) seems relegated to roll her eyes in despair.  Sam Nelson’s wife Marsha (Christine Adams) is nowhere to be seen this week and their son Kai is trapped in his apartment with the previously seen ‘cleaners’ establishing a presence downstairs within seeming orders to use Nelson’s family as a bargaining chip. We’re definitely a little in ‘Kim Bauer’ territory here with a family member being forced into the action and hopefully fall back on their genetic resources of, well, being resourceful. It’s a little hard to believe that Kai could scurry through the house unnoticed and when his attempts to call for help on a reconnected phone appear to work, the procedures of the police on the other end (basically, ‘You might not be able to speak freely, so don’t say anything now but we’ll ring you back to confirm!‘) are just baffling.

Back on the plane, Nelson’s continued quick-thinking prevents another immediate territory. It’s clear that lead hijacker Stuart doesn’t really want to kill a passenger (following Janssen’s demands he do so) but is willing to do so if he must. Nelson points out that if Stuart has to provide evidence of a kill he can just use the body of the passenger shot earlier rather than create more casualties. This works in the moment (and convinces both Janssen and the government command-centre to which he sends a photo) that the hijackers are willing to kill.  However, Nelson realises that such a sleight-of-hand will only work once and begins to circulate a plan that if another death is demanded, the passengers will have no choice at that point but to rebel and take their chances. When that moment comes towards the end of the episode, all hell breaks loose and we know we’re in the endgame of the story. or are we?

The episode ends with another twist that, in its few moments on screen, don’t seem to make a lot of sense. Those of us wondering why an actor like Holly Aird has been glimpsed in a non-speaking role as a passenger throughout, get some validation when she’s suddenly spurred into action during the passenger uprising. For a few moments you wonder if she’s just a passenger reacting udner stress, then wonder if she might be an air marshall who simply hasn’t had the time to react thus far and might be largely unaware of Sam Nelson’s subversive approach further up the plane. But as she gets a gun, she then shoots the pilot and locks herself in with the controls… it appears she’s Janseen’s Plan B and one suspects she’s going to be willing to crash the plane. As with Janssen’s cat-and-mouse arc through the episode, your mileage may vary as to whether this is a clever organic twist you didn’t see coming or just a needed-for-the-script imperilment to add something ahead of the finale. The answer will likely only come after the final episode airs next week, but it feels a bit off.

There’s a lot to be resolved in the final episode. One way or another the plane has to come down, the architects of the hijack (hopefully) have to be re-caught, Kai has to be rescued (again, hopefully) and one does wonder whether the storyline about Marsha’s job-interview will actually prove relevant or just a way to side-line the character for a while. So far, the series has thoroughly impressed when sticking to its core mission statement, but it will all be about sticking the landing and there’s only an hour to go…

'Hijack S01 EP06  - Comply, Slowly'  (AppleTV+ review)
'Hijack S01 EP06 - Comply, Slowly' (AppleTV+ review)
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