Netflix’s ‘The Night Agent’ follows the story of Peter Sutherland, a young FBI agent who finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy that threatens the future of his country. At the beginning of the series, he is a low-level agent going through the motions, waiting to prove himself and get a promotion. When he picks up a call of national importance, he is thrown into a whirlpool of conspiracy and plotting, which involves a mole inside the White House. One thing that sets Peter and his story apart is that it hits closer to home, feeling more real compared to other super-charged spies we generally see in the genre. If this makes you wonder whether he is based on a real spy or an FBI agent, then here’s what you need to know.
Is Peter Sutherland a Real FBI Agent?
No, Peter Sutherland is not a real FBI agent. He is an original character created by Matthew Quirk for his novel, ‘The Night Agent,’ which serves as the source material for the show. The author was inspired by a friend who was an FBI agent and worked an overnight shift at the agency. The secrecy surrounding his job caused intrigue in the group, and the only thing that Quirk could discern was that his friend was a “part of a night watch, charged with staying on top of any breaking crises and if need be waking up the director.”
Years later, when Quirk started working on ‘The Night Agent,’ he met his friend again to learn more about his job and realized that it was much more “interesting and hush-hush” than he’d previously believed. The idea of “a young guy sitting by a phone all night every night” waiting for a call to charge into action interested Quirk. Extrapolating from here, he wondered what would happen if the phone rang and the young agent was thrown into a world of turmoil.
While bringing the character of Peter Sutherland to the screen, the creator of the show, Shawn Ryan, revealed that the protagonist is not presented as “some kind of unbeatable killing machine superhero.” Talking about how the character was written in the novel, Ryan explained: “He’s an FBI agent, so he has some training, but he’s not Jason Bourne. He’s not a trained assassin. He’s very much an underdog in the middle of all this. He’s someone who, when he’s in a fight, those bruises stick around. He’s not just miraculously recovered immediately afterward.”
While preparing for the book, the author researched the lives of rookie agents and what things look like in the Situation Room of the White House if a crisis surfaces. He talked to people in the FBI and CIA to understand “how a counterintelligence scenario like the one in the book would play out.” Quirk also familiarised himself with the urban escape and evasion course. A lot of action in the story stems from Peter trying to keep himself and Rose safe, which requires them to run around the city and dodge people tasked with killing them. The course helped Quirk figure out Peter’s state of mind and how he would think.
Considering all this, it is clear that the author put in a lot of work to make Peter as realistic a character as possible. He might be well-trained, but he has his limitations. His vulnerability and blind spots make him relatable and open the door for plot twists that the audience does not see coming.