The real highlight of this episode is the gradual evolution of Stephen's darker, more autonomous side. At the beginning of this week's episode he's finally getting it on with Sam, and somehow their romantic encounter seems to give a real boost to his character. Up to this point I've struggled to connect with him, but thankfully some of Sam's/Alex's intensity seems to have rubbed off.
He's found his voice - suddenly declared his disgust for his father's work, and not a moment too soon. It's clear that there's going to be a showdown between father and son before season's end. The really interesting thing about this is that grandson Eddie is going to be the pawn in the centre of that battle. It wasn't until this episode that I realised how powerless Stephen is, so complete is his father's hold on him. It doesn't appear that he's aware of this either, but is it conceivable that Jack would kill his only son? The next two weeks will decide that once and for all.
For me the great development of this episode is that the cat is out of the bag - Stephen has discovered that Sam/Alex is not who she says she is. Judging from the clip of next week's episode, he's not taken the news too well. The emotional dilemma Sam now faces is whether to choose Aidan or Stephen. The former is the man who lied to her and placed some part in the trauma she suffered in Tangier. The latter is the man she has manipulated and deceived (he would also provide her with a fairly psychotic father-in-law, but surely we don't have to dwell on that?). At this point, Aidan is looking like the far more likely choice, but is there a possibility that Stephen will be able to overcome her betrayal?
The main plot arc this week failed to grab me as much as in previous ones. The past few weeks established a substantial mythology around Byzantium and the Powers that Be, but this week's plot surrounding the attempts to kill political icon Fatima Zahir left me a little cold. It's not that the concept didn't work, but rather that I wanted richer scenes between her and Sam. After watching the episode I was struck by how nicely the parallels between the two characters fit together, and how their combined presence helped to reinforce the themes and messages that Hunted has been drip-feeding us since week one.
Zahir is openly opposed to the Khyber dam fiasco, and like Sam she is no stranger to being a target for others in a world full of men threatened by the existence of strong, vocal women. Both of them are betrayed most painfully by those closest to them, and both continue to place themselves in great danger when others want them to hide away. As Zahir tells us herself, if she was terrified of people trying to kill her she 'wouldn't get out of bed in the morning'. I wanted more of this throughout the episode - Zahir's bravery cast a new light on Sam, helping me to understand her plight a bit better, and liking her all the more because of it.
Despite some shortcomings, this week's episode reminded me why I've stuck with Hunted: because I admire it's message that these women are admirable because they refuse to be silenced, by neither the words or bullets of the men who despise them.
What did you think of this week's 'Hunted'? Will Sam end up with Stephen or Aidan? Leave your musings below!