Sky Atlantic Premieres Espionage Thriller The Sympathizer on Monday 27 May

Sky Atlantic presents a compelling adaptation of Viet Thanh Nguyen's acclaimed novel, bringing a fresh perspective to the spy thriller genre.

The Sympathizer HBO

Sky Atlantic debuts the limited series The Sympathizer, based on Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Premiering on May 27 at 9:00 p.m., the series blends espionage and cross-cultural satire with a top flight cast, including Hoa Xuande and Robert Downey Jr. in multiple roles.

The Sympathizer takes us into the world of a half-French, half-Vietnamese communist spy during the Vietnam War’s final days. The series opener, “Death Wish,” introduces the Captain (Hoa Xuande), a North Vietnamese mole embedded in the South Vietnam secret police. The episode begins with the Captain in a North Vietnamese reeducation camp, forced to write and rewrite his confession despite his insistence that “everything [he] did was to advance the cause“.

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The story then jumps back in time to January 1975, four months before the fall of Saigon. The Captain meets with his CIA handler, Claude (Robert Downey Jr.), at a movie theatre to watch Death Wish, starring Charles Bronson. However, in a narrative twist, the Captain later reveals that he had previously reported the movie as Emmanuelle. This is the first of many unreliable narrations and retroactive revisions in the episode.

The Captain is tasked with retrieving a list of South Vietnamese secret agents from a North Vietnamese captive. However, it is revealed that he is the double-crossing spy behind the mission. As the situation in Saigon deteriorates, the Captain must juggle his allegiances to the communist party, the South Vietnamese army, and his CIA handler, all while grappling with his conscience.

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Directed by Park Chan-wook, The Sympathizer employs flashbacks and unreliable narration and many other stylistic devices that mean you never quite know where peoples motives and truths lie.

With its unique literary perspective, The Sympathizer offers a fresh take on spy thrillers, exploring the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

The series is produced by HBO, A24, and Rhombus Media. All seven episodes will be available exclusively on Sky Atlantic and NOW in the UK.

I'm Noah Masire, I look after UK TV News at Memorable TV. From the gripping crime of Happy Valley to the feel good storytelling of All Creatures Great & Small, I bring you the latest news about what's what and who's who in the world of iconic British TV shows. Stay tuned!