Both Hooten (Michael Landes) and Alex (Ophelia Lovibond) get to grips with elements of their past this week, as the show comes to Moscow on the trail of a (possibly mythical) 51st Imperial Fabergé Egg.
Meeting with an old contact who claims to know the egg’s location, some more of Hooten’s mysterious backstory is brought to light with talk of his family murdered at the hands of a now dead foe. However, their conversation is being recorded and by the time Alex arrives on the scene, Hooten has been captured, beaten and hung up naked.
For Alex, the call gives her an excuse to escape the clutches mother, the fabulous Lady Tabitha Lindo-Parker (Jane Seymour), who is intent on nailing the wedding preparations and has even come equipped with her own comedy sidekick assistant.
As the tale, from series co-creator Sarah Phelps (Dickensian), unfolds in Moscow, we discover that Hooten’s immediate adversary also has a link to Alex; the glamorous, leather clad Valeria is a former rival from university with a chip on her shoulder and a nice line in needling our heroine… as well as brandishing a handbag sized crossbow!
While Hooten believes his contact, Alex is utterly certain that the Fabergé Egg must be a fake. With this tension and emotions running high, we see a terrific bust-up between the pair – Hooten delivers some unwelcome home truths on her commitment to the wedding, and this looks set to fracture their uneasy working relationship for good.
Providing perhaps the daftest chase sequence on the show so far, with Hooten dressed in a too-tight Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer onesie, director Julian Holmes (Spooks, Class) also entertains with a woefully mismatched car chase and some great slapstick around a wedding reception too.
Among the guest cast, Hooten’s master thief pal is played by the ubiquitous Anton Lesser (Endeavour, Game of Thrones), who always provides a touch of class and a level of intensity to proceedings. Olivia Grant (Indian Summers) is amusingly arch as Alex’s arch nemesis and, carted off in a police car, we imagine she will be back to bedevil another time as she clearly has unfinished business.
Despite her mother’s intervention, putting pressure on Alex’s museum boss Clive to make her daughter desk bound, Alex clearly has a taste for adventure now – as confirmed when she went back after the Egg once Hooten had disposed of it.
While it is relatively late in the game, the revelation of this shadowy “big bad” into the show escalates tensions nicely and whets our appetite for the final two episodes – one of which will presumably feature Alex’s wedding, as well as Hooten’s newly awakened lust for revenge.
Airs at 9pm on Friday 21 October 2016 on Sky1.
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