The Night Agent is now No. 1 on Netflix — should you stream or skip?

Gabriel Basso as Peter Sutherland in episode 110 of The Night Agent.
(Image credit: Dan Power/Netflix © 2023)

Sometimes, the top shows on Netflix include a surprise: a show you've never heard of before, in its first season. Yes, in this age of sequels and spinoffs, the biggest shocker is something new succeeding. 

This is the case for the current No. 1 series on Netflix: The Night Agent — which debuted last Thursday (March 23). In the time since it arrived, The Night Agent immediately shot up to the No. 1 spot of the Top Shows on Netflix in the U.S. (and many other regions) list, as FlixPatrol reports. 

By its second day out, The Night Agent knocked the Waco: American Apocalypse docuseries out of the top spot. During its six-day reign, its fended off Love is Blind season 4 (currently holding the No. 2 spot).

But none of this informs you if you should or shouldn't watch, does it? So, lets break everything about The Night Agent down.

What is The Night Agent about?

Peter Sutherland (Gabriel Brasso) is a nice, affable guy, easy on the eyes, and a hard-working government agent. In the wild, he can't help but become concerned about potential threats — and he even finds one quite early in the series. He even comes with some emotional baggage, as his father was accused of betraying the United States of America.

Then, there's a time-jump, and we learn one year later Peter is also working a weird gig inside the government — one that's something of a redemption project. As the Night Agent, he's monitoring a phone that's only going to ring there in case of emergency. His best ally is White House chief of staff Diane Farr (Hong Chau).

Gabriel Basso as Peter Sutherland in episode 104 of The Night Agent.

(Image credit: Dan Power/Netflix © 2023)

And, then, as happens in shows about government agents and espionage — the phone rings, and Peter picks it up. He's then thrown into a deep-reaching situation that could possibly be tied to the highest positions in the United States government.

If you need more details, The Night Agent is a 10-episode long series with hour-long episodes, and it comes from TV veteran Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Unit, S.W.A.T.). Its cast also includes D.B. Woodside (Lucifer, 24, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer).

Oh, and there's even a "whodunnit?" plot with a government mole who may or may not get exposed.

The Night Agent reviews: What critics and audience members say

So, The Night Agent — if you ask us — is the latest piece of proof that Netflix understands what its audience likes better than critics do. Or at least that's what its Rotten Tomatoes scores — 67% for critics and 82% for audience — suggest.

At Decider, Joel Keller says that The Night Agent is filled with "a lot of stock characters," and that its "conspiracy... doesn’t start in a particularly interesting way." M.N. Miller of Ready Steady Cut declared "The Night Agent can be entertaining but ultimately is a trite and diluted attempt at a genre that keeps getting recycled year after year."

A positive word from the critical mass came from no less than the esteemed Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times, who compliments the back half of the season, stating "the action is ramped up" and audiences are "rewarded with some payoffs."

(L to R) Gabriel Basso as Peter Sutherland, Luciane Buchanan as Rose Larkin in episode 104 of The Night Agent

(Image credit: Dan Power/Netflix © 2023)

Stronger applause came from the likes of audience commenter Joseph T, who gave it five stars and wrote "Great show, good plot and pacing. Enjoyed the full cast of this series. Would love to see a second season." 

Ned M also enjoyed it, and his 4.5-star comment reads "Lots of fun. A popcorn series for sure, but just when you start to worry that the whole thing is becoming silly, the characters and the plot pull you along to the next cliffhanger, and there are a lot of those. The final episode wraps everything up nicely. We need a Season 2 if Matthew Quirk is willing to provide an acceptable premise."

That said, there is some dissent in the audience, Brian M rates it 2/5 stars and wrote "A recycled 24 meets Quantico in this largely predictable thriller. A decent enough show to keep your attention while mindlessly scrolling social media, but lackluster acting by Hong Chao and plot twists you can see a mile a way limits your time at the edge of your seat."

The Night Agent — stream or skip?

So, the decision to watch The Night Agent or look for something else can seemingly be boiled down to expectations. If you're OK with something familiar, something that doesn't try and break the mold, you'll probably binge the 10 episode run over the course of a week, if not a weekend.

But if you're not a fan of government espionage series, or want some originality, you should probably skip. In that case, might we recommend our list of the best Netflix movies you haven't watched yet?

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Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.