Red Eye episode 1 recap: Why is Matthew Nolan being framed?

 Richard Armitage plays Dr Matthew Nolan and Jing Lusi plays DC Hana Li in Red Eye episode 1 recap.
Richard Armitage plays Dr Matthew Nolan and Jing Lusi plays DC Hana Li in Red Eye episode 1 recap.

This Red Eye episode 1 recap contains spoilers... Set on a night flight between London and Beijing, this tense thriller follows cardiovascular surgeon Dr Matthew Nolan (Richard Armitage) who finds himself battling to survive when he's caught up in a dark political conspiracy.

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When he's arrested at Heathrow and extradited back to Beijing at the start of this opening episode, London-based detective DC Hana Li (Jing Lusi), is ordered to accompany him. Yet when people start dying on their flight to China, she starts to wonder if Nolan has been set up...

Here's how Red Eye episode 1 went down...

Why is Matthew being framed?

The story opens with a drunk and disoriented Dr Matthew Nolan careering through the streets of Beijing and crashing his car on a rain-drenched motorway, before fleeing the scene.

Arriving in London 15 hours later, the wounded cardiovascular surgeon is arrested at Heathrow and taken into custody. When the police question him, he tells them he’d been in China at a medical conference run by World Pacific Medicine. “You came home a day early, why did you cut the trip short?” asks one of his interrogators.

The authorities then search him, cutting his bag to ribbons and even removing the dressing from the wound on his side. He claims he got the injury when he was stabbed by a bouncer in a Beijing club and left the club alone, so he's shocked when the police tell him the girl he was with at the club was later found dead in his car.

Meanwhile Director General of MI5 Madeline Delaney is working out while listening to a news report on a nuclear deal being negotiated between the UK and China. When she gets into work at Thames House she learns about Dr Nolan’s case during a Zoom call with a Chinese government minister.

He tells her Nolan must come back to China to face murder charges and he wants four other doctors who were on that trip to be brought back to give testimony. Delaney is reluctant, but her counterpart says dragging the situation out for months will serve neither country well “nor our current negotiations”. It seems Nolan's case could affect the nations' imminent nuclear deal and as such, he'll be sent back against all usual protocol, while the other four doctors are free to choose for themselves.

Richard Armitage plays Dr Matthew Nolan in Red Eye episode 1 recap
Richard Armitage plays Dr Matthew Nolan in Red Eye episode 1 recap

What happened to Hana's mother?

DC Hana Li has been assigned to accompany Dr Nolan back to China, but is deeply reluctant due to what happened to her mum when she left the country aged five. But what happened to her mum we wonder?

Before departing, Hana pays her family a visit and while she seems to get on well with her step-mum, she and her father don’t seem that close.

Back at Heathrow, Matthew is told he’s being extradited to China on manslaughter charges after crashing his car and killing his passenger while drunk. He claims he was drugged and alone in the car, yet photos from the Chinese police suggest that wasn’t the case. “He left her to die,” says the police officer. “He might have gotten away with it too, if she wasn’t the daughter of a general.”

Meanwhile his fellow doctors Steven Hurst, Amber Hurst, Kate Ward and Chris Peel arrive home, but are told to wait behind after their fellow passengers disembark the plane. They’re asked to return to Beijing to give testimony about what happened the night before. Three agree, but Chris Peel refuses. Yet when he gets to his car, he’s quickly bundled into a white van by some sinister figures. Eeek!

While walking back to the gate, Matthew manages to break free from his captors and climbs on some seats at a busy departure lounge, asking people to film him while loudly proclaiming his innocence. It’s a clever move and his story will soon be trending on social media, but he’s soon rearrested by armed police.

The story is soon picked up by Hana’s half-sister, Jess, a young journalist searching for a scoop. It’s clear the sisters have clashed over a story Jess wrote not so long ago, however when she hears Hana has flown to Beijing for work, she puts two and two together to realise her sister could be her ticket to a massive story.

Richard Armitage plays Dr Matthew Nolan in Red Eye episode 1 recap
Richard Armitage plays Dr Matthew Nolan in Red Eye episode 1 recap

Who's hiding in the hold?

Elsewhere, a flight steward walks into a toilet with an overnight bag, which is soon switched by another passenger. She then makes her way to Flight 357 and stashes the bag on board, but what’s in the bag?

Meanwhile in the hold, ground crew load cargo aboard the flight as other passengers begin to board. “Where’s the other bloke gone?” says one worker to another, implying that someone has snuck aboard somehow, but who and why?

After take off, Matthew’s vegan meal arrives, yet he offers it to a fellow passenger who’s decided at the last minute he wants one after all. He then turns to Hana and tells her he’s being framed, yet it’s the crime he's accused of has touched a nerve for her.

However before long the man who ate Matthew’s meal has collapsed. It seems he’s having a heart attack and the surgeon tries his best to save him, performing CPR and attempting to shock him back to life, but to no avail. The passenger who ate Matthew’s dinner is dead, which he finds very suspicious indeed. Hana isn’t showing it, but she also finds it odd. “It doesn’t make any sense,” says Matthew.