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Hijack Series Premiere Review: A Plane Hijacking Like No Other

Hijack Series Premiere Review: A Plane Hijacking Like No Other

It’s always a huge risk to reuse a concept that has been done in various capacities, whether as a movie or a TV series.

The concept behind Hijack was not new because many movies have been made about hijacked planes, and if we’re to go there, it also happened in real life on September 11, 2001.

What was supposed to set this show apart was that events were unfolding in real-time, and as a result, everything depicted on Hijack Season 1 was to take place in ten hours. The time it takes to fly from Dubai to London boarding time included.

Yet, showing events in real time was also not new, having been executed perfectly in the series 24 starring Kiefer Sutherland.

It would appear that they were taking many risks in creating Hijack, but maybe it wasn’t that risky for them because they knew how to set the show apart from other existing works.

I was skeptical of it because, based on the trailer, it felt like something we had seen before. But by the end of Hijack Season 1 Episode 1, I was convinced of the opposite.

The opening scenes did a great job of capturing the airport environment, introducing us to everyone from the air controllers who make sure grisly accidents don’t happen to the flight attendants who ensure you don’t kill yourself or others by accident, and even the pilots who transport you from one point to another safely.

We were also introduced to the main character.

Despite appearing like a man who can take fifty men and not break a sweat, Idris Elba has always had this calming effect through his line delivery and general demeanor, which would serve him well in portraying Sam.

One could tell that he was generally a nice guy by how he interacted with other characters, from the check-in officer to his seatmate.

He had a way with words that made someone feel like the bad guy if they didn’t do what he requested. Even when he wanted to tell someone off, he did it in the nicest way possible.

From some of his earliest acts, we were already on his side, which is a good thing when you’re crafting the protagonist.

A flight is one of the few places you will find people from all walks of life in an enclosed space without the possibility of getting up and leaving if your immediate neighbor is not the nicest.

Hijack Season 1 saw tensions begin to flare up between other passengers.

A young woman just wanted to travel from one place to another, but a mother whose children were wreaking havoc clashed, becoming instant enemies. It can’t be overstated how important it is for a parent to have some level of control over their children.

Young Woman: You don’t get one.
Mom: So… Sorry, love?
Young Woman: The lockers, it’s not like they’re allocated. They all belong to all of us.
Mom: We’re entitled to ’em as much as anybody else is.
Young Woman: No, yeah, I know. I’m just saying…
Mom: And there are four of us. It’s not just us and our fruity water. We’ve got kids.
Young Woman: I hadn’t noticed.

It is selfish to ruin everyone’s mood because you can’t get your children to behave.

Things were not going so well with Sam and his neighbor too.

Sam: Enjoy the movie.
Hugo: Movie?
Sam: Or whatever it is you’re gonna do that doesn’t involve speaking to me.

At the back of our minds, we knew something was about to happen, and if they were to get through it, these passengers needed to support one another. But will their little squabbles stand in the way of safety?

The episode didn’t keep us waiting because after some students discovered the bullet, the bad guys accelerated their timeline, and the hijacking happened faster than you can say fast.

Terry: One of our lot left a round in the toilet, and some girl found it. We bring it forward.
Marcus: That’s my call.
Terry: Yeah. That’s why I’m here, to advise you to make the call.
Marcus: The plan was three hours.
Terry: Plan’s gone to shit.

The reactions were what you would expect, ranging from misguided bravado to composure and health issues.

The situation was volatile, with many reactions, and anything could go wrong. It made the situation tense.

Under no circumstances should the cockpit be opened when a threat like this happens. In most movies, the bad guys appeal to the humanity of the pilots, but in this case, they manipulate secret love.

The episode revealed a lot, but it didn’t feel overwhelming because it was what we would expect.

A lot of mysteries came up naturally, including the big questions. Who were these hijackers, and what did they want? How did they get guns on the plane, and were they going to murder people, or were they bluffing?

On the ground, a lot was also happening. What was the relationship between a random security guard and the hijackers?

Why was the Saudi air controller disappointed that the threat didn’t escalate?

In London, we met Sam’s ex-wife and son. We also met Daniel, his ex-wife’s boyfriend.

Focusing on the people on the ground didn’t make sense when all the action was in the plane. But after seeing the texts between Sam and his wife, it was heavily insinuated they both knew what might happen, and he was on that plane intentionally.

By the end of “Final Call,” enough intrigue had been created to warrant following this story.

Let me just tell you where I’m at, okay? Let me tell you where I’m at with this, all right? I don’t care about any of those people. I just wanna get home to my family. So here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna help you.


The episode was well done, with a considerably fast pace and suspenseful music used appropriately. Cutting between the inside of the plane, Dubai and London did a disservice to the thrill factor of the show.

Most of what was happening on the ground could have been shown in a few consecutive minutes at the beginning and end of the episode, leaving the rest of the time inside the plane.

Overall, the Hijack pilot episode was a good one that checked all the right boxes but found a way to elevate every point beyond what we would expect from a show like this. The worst it could have been was predictable, and predictable it was not.

Hijack Season 1 Episode 2 was rough for the first three-quarters because it veered away from what was most interesting and focused too much on what was happening on the ground.

But the final quarter paid off well even though we could have used a better use of the time.

Most of what happened on the plane was still something one would expect.

Discord had begun between the passengers as soon as they got on that plane, and being caught in a hijacked plane was not doing the situation any favors.

Passenger 1: So, what did you do then? Come on, you must have done something.
Passenger 2: Don’t talk to her like that.
Passenger 1: Well, think about it. They’ve not put her here for no reason.

Sam stepped up in a big way, raising some red flags for the viewer and the passengers.

Passenger 1: You all right, pet? What’s happening?
Passenger 2: What’s happening? There’s a man up there who’s gone over to their side. He’s just betrayed us all to help himself. That’s what’s happening.

One of the few things known about him is that he is a corporate negotiator called upon when huge mergers are about to happen and aids in the negotiations.

Yet this was not a typical negotiation where the worst that could happen was some extremely rich corporations losing a fraction of their wealth.

Sam seemed eerily prepared for this, like someone who knew it might or would happen.

There was a constant shift between various characters in London and Dubai.

In London, Sam’s ex-wife’s boyfriend followed up on Sam’s cryptic message from the airplane. He got in touch with flight control, who said that the problem had been resolved.

It seemed stupid that they would take the other end’s word for it and didn’t compare and contrast the time difference or the source of the two calls for help.

A few more characters were introduced, which felt like it was bogging down the story.

When you have a job, some things are expected of you. It’s called the bare minimum. But some people go beyond the bare minimum.

In Dubai, a flight controller didn’t buy the story that everything was just okay. Once might be a mistake, but twice, especially in something as important as this, there must be a bigger story.

He followed up on some information but ultimately met his death.

We had been wondering just how far these kidnappers were willing to go, and it was confirmed in the worst way possible. They were willing to go all the way.

It also exposed how wide the hijacking team stretched. People from various races, genders, ages, and even languages existed.

This observation brought forward the question in everyone’s mind. Who were they, and what did they want? Hijackers are usually a monolith of race or religion with a political message. These kidnappers were the most random people ever. 

It was evident that the show was trying to keep that a mystery for as long as possible, but it was affecting the story.

Oddly, they didn’t want the ground to know what was happening on that plane. The earliest thing hijackers do is communicate their demands. They were a random group of people. What cause could they have in common?

We met a new character in London whose life we traced from home.

The show tried to communicate that Alice is not the best timekeeper, but it went on far too long.

But when she got to her workstation, she did what we wanted to get into the show and do all along. She asked all the right questions.

Alice: I mean, that’s really weird, don’t you think? Somebody on board calls the UK, manages to get a message to us via Counter Terrorism of all people? But the passenger who’s done that, who’s gone to all that trouble, they’ve also got it wrong?
Simon: Maybe they dealt with it.
Alice: Then why didn’t the second caller say that too? If it was all fixed, why didn’t the second caller send any more messages?
Simon: Well, because for some reason the Wi-Fi was down.
Alice: Because for some reason the Wi-Fi was down?
Simon: Okay. Yeah.
Alice: Something smells dodgy.

3 Degrees” was imperfect in many ways, but we were still interested in seeing where this flight landed.

The magic in the season premiere was significantly less potent, and the show needs to get to the hijackers’ demands, or they risk losing us.

Flight Controller 1: It’s a three-degree shift. It’s meant to be at 320 degrees but someone’s changed it to 323.
Alice: So, something has happened to Kingdom 2-9… and someone is calling for help.

Too much focus on the backstories of the ground characters is unnecessary in a show where every minute is important, and forty minutes is too short for a streaming show.

Over to you, Fanatics. What did you think of the series premiere?

Are you along for the flight?

What is their cause do you think? Climate change activists? Anti-war activists?

Chime in in the comments section.

Denis Kimathi is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He has watched more dramas and comedies than he cares to remember. Catch him on social media obsessing over [excellent] past, current, and upcoming shows or going off about the politics of representation on TV. Follow him on Twitter.

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