Hooten is in Bolivia pleading for his life – he owes someone money, and there are, let’s be clear, a few guns pointed at him – when he gets a call from Alex asking if he can go to Bhutan with her in order to try to track down a priceless scroll written by Buddha himself. Well, yes he can; that would pay off his debt, although Alfonso – the guy he owes money to – sends his henchman Hidalgo along for the trip, much to Alex’s surprise. Although, of course, at first Hooten doesn’t tell her that Hidalgo’s there to keep an eye on him.
She’ll find out later. Meantime, the first stop in Bhutan – the eighth happiest country in the world, we are told – is an ailing, elderly woman who has a parchment which might reveal the whereabouts of a temple where the Buddha scroll was left. And because she’s seen TV shows before, and she knows how they work, she has some wise words for Hooten: “You lost someone. You still feel the (Secret) Pain.” She gives him the parchment, but to ensure he comes back with the scroll she gives him a poison to which she has the antidote.
And so Alex, Hooten and Hidalgo head into the mountains – rickety bridge, snow-capped peaks, that sort of thing – to find the temple. Hooten, however, is starting to suffer from the symptoms of the poison, eventually going blind; and although we know that Hooten isn’t going to be killed off in a show called Hooten & The Lady it allows us to see a more vulnerable side to him, culminating in feverish mumbles about someone named Ben who he couldn’t save. We do find out who Ben is, and it carries an emotional punch which, in truth, I wasn’t expecting.
Hooten survives, needless to say, and the scroll is recovered. Of course Alex will need to give Hooten the kiss of life, of course she’ll need to loosen his belt, and of course someone will tell her that Hooten is “a dish”, which she pretends not to have noticed, because this is not a shipping show. There’s more, though: an actual on-the-mission death; Alex saying “Hooten, we have a problem”; and even a couple of fleeting glimpses of Alex’s fiancé Edward, who seems to be as clean-cut and aristocratic as Alex herself, although I’m still betting that he’ll turn out to be a wrong ‘un, otherwise she won’t have any reason to turn to Hooten at the end of the season as the only man who she can trust. In short, and somewhat to my surprise, this was comfortably the best episode so far.