Netflix’s ‘The Night Agent’ Seamlessly Utilizes Some of the Finest Romance Tropes

Peter and Rose on a stakeout in The Night Agent.

Note from Marvelous Geeks’ Team: With the ongoing WGA strike, it’s imperative that we state we stand in solidarity with all writers asking for better wages and the respect they deserve in this industry. No story comes to fruition without the idea born and nurtured inside a writer’s head. Writers are the beating hearts of everything we love — we stand with and for them. 

Netflix’s The Night Agent is a trope-filled daze that moves the narrative forward in a heart-squeezing fashion. High-action spy dramas often include some sort of a romantic arc to ground the overall story, but what viewers see with Rose Larkin and Peter Sutherland is akin to series like Chuck and, dare I say, the best of Casino RoyaleWhere some shows fumble with questionable characters, Netflix’s The Night Agent crystalizes that we’re meant to root for this romance’s endgame.

At the same time, the series utilizes some of the best romance tropes as effectively as content geared specifically toward the genre. The relationship between Peter and Rose progresses organically through familiar beats that maneuver the narrative with sufficient tension and matchless longing. It’s elating when the finest moments occur subtly—stolen glances when they think the other isn’t looking or gazes lingering a little too long. Netflix’s The Night Agent takes a single moment in time and orchestrates an entire tapestry of reasons why the two of them work better together, underscoring the significance of innate loyalty at the crux of their attachment.

The Night Agent Places Loyalty at the Forefront 

Peter and Rose in the boat with her head on his shoulder in The Night Agent Season 1, Episode 6.

Trust is a puzzling concept in this genre. As infectious and memorable as Bond and Vesper are in Casino Royale, they’re proof of this detail. Yet The Night Agent flips the script and cements that Peter and Rose can and should trust each other. As questionable and complex as the characters are from the beginning, the series ensures that we can trust them both from Season 1, Episode 1, “The Call.” And that trust acts as an invisible string, binding them to constant collision with one another as they orbit around the singular safe space in a world full of espionage.

The initial hesitancies acutely bring their humanity to the forefront as they begin as strangers, but once it becomes easier to align with one another, there’s no turning back. “How many times do you want me to get shot at to prove it,” Peter says when Rose asks if she can truly trust him. And that’s the catalyst that darts loyalty to the center of their relationship. Yet, it isn’t until the series allows Rose a moment of rare vulnerability, making their entire dynamic that much more enticing. It isn’t easy to open up about one’s loneliness and lean into someone else. Peter is proof as someone who shells himself away from any form of vulnerability, yet Rose wholly owns up to it from the start, exhibiting a rare form of bravery TV and romance novels are especially good at.

A shot of Peter and Rose's hands in The Night Agent.

Rose’s reason to trust Peter might boil down to the detail that he’s all she has left, but film and TV rarely allow women to be this vulnerable. In such genres, they’re either resorted to the damsel in distress, or it takes years for them to open up because they’ve been jaded by something in their past. (While both are still fantastic character traits to explore, this still remains a refreshing character arc.) Rose is a clever mix of both, allowing her to be that much more well-rounded and perhaps even relatable. She is jaded, but she’s also at wits’ end, terrified, and entirely human. Her vulnerability then acts as a catalyst for Peter to eventually open up without even thinking about it. As Cisco later reveals to Rose in Season 1, Episode 6, “Fathoms,” everything Rose already knows about Peter is far more than anyone else has seen. But before another character notes this aloud, the audience sees it in Season 1, Episode 4, “Eyes Only,” when he mentions his ex-fiancée, then reveals why he bottles things up.

It’s Rose who then reiterates that it’s not so much about constantly talking to one another but the contentment and understanding that subsequently strengthens in the silence because, with some people, the unsaid words matter just as much. One shared hotel room, two beds, relatively distanced from one another, yet the entire scene openly illuminates that there’s transparency in their connection as well as a relief exposed in their silence.

Forced Proximity and Hurt/Comfort and Only One Bed 

Peter and Rose kiss on the boat in The Night Agent Season 1, Episode 7.

The Night Agent writers point-blank understand that for romance to succeed in this genre, forced proximity must be the number one trope utilized. And thankfully, with that comes the comforting angst in hurt/comfort and the only one bed (which isn’t put to use as it should be, yet it’s still exciting). A plethora unravels when two people are stuck together, often confined in close quarters. From the moment Peter decides he isn’t letting Rose out of his sight because they can’t trust anyone during their time on the run, the forced proximity works wonders to establish their feelings.

They then seamlessly go from strangers to the one person the other knows they can rely on, which then leads to moments of hurt/comfort, starting from the first episode and ending with all the frazzled embraces in the finale. And in romance novels, it’s during these moments where the silence between the couple often translates to someone bigger—the physical bandaging becomes metaphorical in hindsight. Stitches don’t just denote healing on the surface, but they become a semblance of caretaking that mends internal wounds too.

Peter and Rose kiss in The Night Agent Season 1, Episode 7, inside the boat.

Further, while The Night Agent doesn’t use the “only one bed” trope in the traditional sense of placing them there while they’re still very much in the beginning stage of their burgeoning romance, it nonetheless allows them a moment of reprieve in the boat, away from prying eyes, commandeering the one moment where saving the world isn’t their sole priority. It’s a beat that brings the tension to an exhilarating high, dropping them right into each other’s arms with the kind of first kiss that’s both hot and wholesome.

Bodyguard Trope: Touch Her/Him and You Die 

Peter and Rose kiss outside by the plane in The Night Agent's Season 1 finale.

Ultimately, The Night Agent makes Peter and Rose equals from beginning to end. She has no tactical training, yet her determination to fight for him is unequivocally chef’s kiss. It’s endearing, but at the same time, she isn’t joking in the slightest. How she holds her own in the field and relies on her convictions makes her a compelling character while heightening the romance to feed into their kindred connection. He needs her just as much as she needs him in every way. The way she rests her head on his shoulder when the news breaks of his fugitive status, silently promises to him that she will stay with him through everything. He doesn’t need to thank her—she never left and never will. These small gestures brilliantly showcase how easily their balanced focus on one another allows them to understand each other at a deeper level, giving them the safe space to fall in their solitude and silence. How they gravitate toward one another becomes increasingly familiar with every episode, steadying them beautifully in dark and formidable points.

How his jaw clenches ever-so-slightly when she’s either taken from him or if her life is remotely in danger captures the beat of romance exquisitely. If this were a romance novel, we’d get pages of dialogue sparking the very idea of “touch her, and you die.” At the same time, there’s a myriad to say about how the directing intentionally fixates on highlighting Rose’s nervous thumb taps, ensuring that not only Peter sees them too, but that he later brings attention to it by holding her hand to confirm that she isn’t alone anymore. Neither of them is—ceaselessly proving through every little moment that what they continue to unveil with one another is the best detail to sprout from this miserable mission.

They don’t need to utter every word aloud for the audience to grasp how serious they both are about putting the other’s safety above their own. The entire series takes place during a brief amount of time, yet the shared moments allow us to get a clear picture of who they both are and how they can be as a couple. In the one season we have so far, we get plenty to prove that this is an endgame we can rely on. NBC Timeless creator Shawn Ryan knows exactly what fans adore, operating all the quiet, important beats to tell character-driven stories that feel earned when the entire picture is complete. One phone call jumpstarts everything, and stillness amidst roaring actions brings a plethora of emotions to the surface. 

The Night Agent Season 1 is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.


Leave a Reply