Netflix’s ‘The Night Agent’ is a high-octane thriller that follows the story of an FBI agent and a tech entrepreneur who gets caught up in a series of events that threaten to unravel their lives. Peter Sutherland is tasked with monitoring a telephone that rings only when a huge crisis is about to happen. The phone doesn’t ring for a year, but then, he gets a call from Rose Larkin.
Peter is assigned to keep Rose safe while his bosses figure out what her call means for national security. This is when Rose discovers the existence of night agents, which further leads to uncovering other secrets that could threaten the White House. If you are wondering whether night agents exist and a job called night action actually exists, here’s what you should know. SPOILERS AHEAD
Are Night Agents and Night Action Real?
In the Netflix series, when Peter Sutherland is asked whether he knows anything about Night Action, he says he doesn’t. Diane Farr says that it’s great because he shouldn’t. It is a highly confidential job set up to help secret agents who are working on top-secret assignments. The Night Agents work on the ground, and the Night Action is a hotline that they call only in the worst-case scenario.
While it cannot be confirmed whether the terms “night action” and “night agents” are used, we can assume that government agencies who deal in espionage have such setups where their secret agents can contact them in distress. Author Matthew Quirk, who wrote the novel on which the Netflix series is based, revealed that he learned about this from one friend. “A friend of mine in DC worked an overnight shift at the FBI. He didn’t talk much about his job back then, but from what I was able to pick up, he was part of a night watch, charged with staying on top of any breaking crises and, if need be, waking up the director,” he said.
Knowing little to nothing about his friend’s job, Quirk used his imagination to fill in the gaps. He thought about a scenario where the phone rings and the agent are “suddenly dropped into the middle of an emergency, face-to-face with the most powerful people in Washington?” To understand it better, Quirk talked to his friend, who revealed this seemingly simple job’s importance. The idea of a low-level employee suddenly becoming a point person directly in touch with the agency’s director and even the President appeared to be a potent concept to explore.
While his friend worked at the FBI, Quirk wanted to raise the stakes for his story, so he transferred the setting to the White House, which is where the real decisions about the country take place. He talked to people in the FBI and the CIA to understand how a crisis is handled in the Situation Room and what protocols agents like Peter Sutherland follow.
For Quirk, the research was essential to ground the story in reality and make it as relevant and believable as possible. With this in mind, we can say that jobs like “night agents” and “night action” exist. However, they must be top-secret, so we’ll never fully know what it means. We can only get a gist of them from shows like ‘The Night Agent.’
Read More: Is The Night Agent Based on a True Story?