Hooten & The Lady: 1.06 Moscow
This week starts us off with Hooten in Moscow, in an episode more rooted in pulp espionage serials than the pulp adventure stories we’ve had so far. Fleming and Le Carré inspire the events, which have to inevitably include a shadowy mastermind on a yacht, spy gadgets, tuxedos and all the trappings. Femme fatales and car chases, bad puns and a Fabergé egg, it’s all here.
While this is Hooten’s gig, and Lady Alex is very busy dealing with wedding preparations, she is still at his beck and call, willing to drop everything at the drop of a hat, a desperate plea and a cocky smile. Something Hooten tactlessly points out to her as being incongruous to her much-vaunted pre-wedding bliss. An argument she denies to focus on the quest to hand. This time she’s up against a former colleague, treasure hunter and thief, Russian catsuit aficionado Valeria, racing to find the mythical 51st Fabergé egg.
The key meta-narrative revelation in this episode is of Hooten’s heartbroken past, his dead wife and son. Killed, it appears, by a nemesis previously presumed dead. A shadowy scorpion obsessed Blofeld-like nemesis that rears his nefarious head once more to threaten all that Hooten holds dear. Chief amongst which these days is Lady Alex.
After last week’s Ethiopian lull, it’s good to see HATL back to its brisk pace and easy humour. Even the sublimely ridiculous scene where an assassin is chasing Hooten wearing an under-sized reindeer onesie. The show continues to excel in simplicity, joy and a deep knowledge of its roots. That and a solid adherence to the theme. They almost never keep the artefacts they find, to return them to the British Museum; and this throughline of loss is threaded throughout the narrative. A subtly hidden bittersweet undertone amidst the raucousness.