Something of a pincer movement from Hooten and The Lady at the start of this week’s episode: Alex is, painstakingly, making a presentation to some very important people in Egypt, requesting permission to excavate a sensitive archaeological site which she is convinced holds an object that will help to locate the site of the lost tomb of Alexander the Great. Permission is duly refused; but the point is moot anyway, because Hooten – who between the end of the last episode and the start of this one seems to have been hired on a freelance, no-questions-asked, don’t-look-at-me-if-it-all-goes-wrong basis by the British Museum – is already on site and blowing shit up. This proves to be successful in obtaining the relevant artefact; unfortunately, he then goes and spoils everything by falling into the clutches of femme fatale Melina – who isn’t what she seems, in more ways than one – and giving her a head start on finding the tomb. Which, of course, contains unimaginably valuable treasure.
And we’re off again. To start with I thought the plot was going to go long on villainous foreigners and virtuous Anglo-Americans, but in fact it was neater and more nuanced than that. Add that to lots of fights, guns, explosions, and double-crossing, none of it filmed in a quarry in Dorset, and once again it’s great fun, even if Jessica Hynes and Shaun Parkes continue to be underused as the back-home support team.
The relationship between Hooten and Alex continues to be difficult to parse, mind you. This week, once again straight from Shipping 101, Alex interrupts Hooten and Melina in flagrante and pretends to be Hooten’s wife, allowing Hooten to speculate about a “definite subtext”. He will double down on this later: Alex is told that Hooten is dead, so when she next sees him – very much alive, natch – she tenderly embraces him. “I knew”, murmurs Hooten, “there was a bit of subtext”, which, in Alex’s opinion, ruins the moment. Except there is a subtext, of course; he knows it, she knows it, we know it, and the show knows it. Which makes it odd that everyone connected with the show should deny it.