Hijack plot explained: who is Sam and how is he helping?

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Hijack is the TV series that landed on Apple TV+ in June 2023. Starring Idris Elba as the very calm passenger Sam Nelson, the plot follows the hijack of a plane flying from Dubai to London. The series is not opening up the mysteries easily, and many questions are open: what do the hijackers want? Who is Sam Nelson, and how is he helping against the hijack exactly? Let’s have all the elements explained while the episodes go on.

You can watch the official trailer for Apple TV+ Hijack here on Youtube.

Hijack plot explained: who is Sam and how is he helping?

In the plot of Hijack, we follow a plane taking off from Dubai, heading to London Heathrow. Shortly after the takeoff, a passenger discovers a bullet in the bathroom, letting us know that a group of hijackers is on the plane. The discovery makes them change their plan, anticipating the hijack, which takes place immediately. The plane falls under their control. Most passengers follow their orders; two men attack the hijackers and get captured. 

While all this happens, we follow the careful evaluations of Sam Nelson (Idris Elba). He observes all details of the situation carefully, planning something to do. What do we know about him? Who is he? From the conversation we hear between his ex-wife and her partner, Sam is an expert negotiator. His background is not in crime, he works for big companies, but in negotiations, “he’s the best.” So we can assume he’s skilled in having difficult conversations and dealing with conflicts. And talking to a plane hijacker definitely represents an example of a complicated conversation.

For most of the first two episodes in the plot of Hijack, we may have the feeling that Sam Nelson wants to help the hijackers and make sure there won’t be problems – or at least that’s how he explained his behavior. He only wants to reach home safely. There are many occasions where he could have done something practical against them (like the moment when he has a gun in his hand). Still, he always decided to appear cooperative in the hijackers’ eyes. And sometimes we may really believe it: when he suggests the hijackers bring the pilot out of the cockpit, Sam seems concerned about the pilot returning the call from Iraq air control. Otherwise, someone on the ground would understand that there is a problem. He looks convincing; he really seems to help the hijackers. And the criminals are not suspecting anything different.

However, we can safely confirm that Sam Nelson is trying to do something practical against the hijackers, and the plot of Hijack has explained it already: when the pilot sits close to Sam, he starts chatting with him. We discover later that Sam gave some instructions to the pilot, asking him to slightly deviate from the plane’s trajectory to send a hidden signal to air control. We understand it when the pilot confirms to Sam that he did it via chat.

This means that what Sam did, suggesting the hijackers remove the pilot from the cockpit, and forcing them to bring him in quickly again when air control asked the identification, was a trick to create a moment of panic. In that moment of confusion, the pilot was able to modify the plane’s trajectory, accomplishing Sam’s intentions.

Sam’s character keeps evaluating every possible step, maneuvering the events without letting the hijackers suspect anything, at least until episode 2. Every episode covers precisely one hour of events in the plot of Hijack: we will see how the series will have Sam’s plan explained to us.

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