Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Mission: Impossible S5E23 - The Merchant

The Merchant (17 Mar. 1971) is the final episode of Mission: Impossible Season 5, and as such it's Paris's last outing with the IMF and the last time Leonard Nimoy will grace our screens as an every-episode regular in a live-action tv series, unless I'm mistaken. That's sad. But on the other hand, this is a corker of an episode. Not only is there intrigue, tension, and underhand dealings, but we also get to see Paris clad in nothing but a towel. I mean, it's only for a few seconds, but it's there, and there's no point in looking a gift horse in the mouth.

In this episode it's Jim's task to bring down Armand Anderssarian, an elderly arms dealer played excellently by George Sanders. While Jim convinces Anderssarian that he can steal an entire radar installation from under the noses of its guards, Paris goes all out with the help of Barney and a super computer to completely fleece Anderssarian in the casino, so that when his arms arrive he has no money to pay for them. At the end of this he will be a broken man.


Before we do anything – These – these are Peter Graves’ real hands, not the ones with loads of black hair on the backs that they try to pass off as his in so many close up shots. We know these are his because they’re attached to him.
And here he is. I think this is probably from an earlier season, a tape sequence being reused. Whatever. He’s pretty.
He just keeps on being pretty inside the chemists where the dead drop is. There’s a lot of pretty Jim in this episode.
What is that in the cupboard? I miss the days when chemists had big colourful bottles in them. I mean, I think when I was little they were pretend ones, harking back to the days when they really did have big colourful bottles, but they were still pretty.
Jim, of course, looks far too pretty as he listens to the tape, which tells him about Armand Anderssarian (George Sanders, almost exactly a year before his suicide), who is an international arms dealer who must be stopped before he sells captured American arms to guerilla groups.
Hmm, what’s going on? A man patrolling with a guard dog, Willy in a car watching anxiously through the window...
Jim’s doing something daring with a rope...
See how pretty he is. See how I’m taking too many screencaps.
Oh no! The dog hath spotted him! Jim is alarmed!
Suddenly, as the dog catches him, the fear turns Jim’s hair less white than it was. It almost looks like it’s not him...
Oh no. My mistake. There he is. Of course. An effect of the moonlight, perhaps?
As the episode starts properly we learn that we’re in the Mediterranean, that Willy is in a very 70s casino filled with people of all colours and creeds.
Well, mostly white and Christian, I’m sure, but...
We learn that Barney is in the company of a computer (of course) and some hot denim and stripy trousers, and that Dana has run full tilt into the 70s and come out of the collision wrapped in a glorious assortment of loud and gauzy fabrics and an attitude that really calls for a mood ring.
Barney starts to explain his incredible card reading machine for the benefit of Dana and the audience. Since Dana hasn’t been given any lines to speak in the opening of what will be her last episode, she favours Barney with her ‘I’d bed you right now just for your sexy techno-babble’ look instead. There’s nothing that lifts a girl out of ennui like a man explaining his amazing device.
One of the gamblers, alongside Armand Anderssarian, Barney explains, lifting a microphone, will be ‘our very own Harry Kroll. Come in, Harry.’ And here he is, sex-in-a-tux himself, Paris, also in his last episode, more’s the pity. I mean, more’s the pity for the humble viewer, not for Leonard Nimoy, who was fed up of having no character development. I mean, what’s a Paris after a Spock?
Just look at that shirt. Wow. The point of this little scene is to show that Barney has a microphone and Paris is receiving what he says through those rather fetching glasses. We get some close-ups of the speakers embedded in both the glasses arms, just to be sure we understand. We do understand.
The tone of this scene is very much that of a briefing, even with the extremely loud fabrics instead of nice blacks and charcoals and greys. The point of this picture is just to get another screencap of Paris looking hot.
‘The only one we want to break, is Anderssarian,’ Paris says. They were saying something before that, but I kind of lost track because I was falling into his eyes.
Meanwhile, Willy is still wandering around the casino. I wonder what he’s been doing all this time? He does get lost easily, poor soul. Now he’s knocking cautiously on a door.
Ahh, he’s come to tell the rest of the team. He took his time. Dana’s sleeve looks very much like it belongs to a circus performer. ‘They’ve got Jim,’ he says in deadly serious tones.
Dun-
-dun-
-dunnnnnn!!!!
Meanwhile, Anderssarian is reading through a list of arms as if it were a menu and listening to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Is it a coincidence that this episode makes a feature of his hearing aid and is using a deaf composer? It’s all very refined as he sits there calmly reading out the names of devices which will kill and maim thousands of people. He’s writing out a cheque for five million dollars for these things.
The dealer is very clear that this money is a deposit. When the ship arrives with the items Anderssarian will pay another $5 million. If he does not, the first $5 million is forfeit. That’s a hell of a deposit.
Meanwhile meanwhile our team is all concern for Jim’s treatment in the hands of the enemy.
It’s evident that all is not as it seems, but they’re not giving much away. I’m wondering if Leonard Nimoy is standing there pondering on the fact that he’s made the decision to leave, wondering where he’ll go next, what jobs might crop up. They’re talking about a radar station across the border, and one they’ve remodelled on this side of the border. This is going to be one of those episodes where I’m distracted by the eye candy and don’t keep up with the plot.
Meanwhile, again, Anderssarian is busy telling off his young female companion, for want of a better term, Nicole (Jo Morrow) for drinking too much. She drinks to stop herself thinking of all the women and children that he kills.
This really is rather a rich episode. Anderssarian tells her how her gown probably cost four children, and the bracelet cost six. Twenty for the necklace. No wonder she drinks.
Aha. At last. We’re back with Jim, who is being interrogated.
Poor Jim looks uncharacteristically nervous. But – wait – would Jim really look this nervous? Could this – possibly be a ruse?!
Meanwhile, Paris, as ‘Harry Kroll’ is doing his gambling thang, and I have taken 32 screencaps in just over 8 minutes. Anderssarian is talking about Mr Kroll and his reputation as a card shark (sharp?), and if I don’t screencap him I might save a little – something. Dignity, perhaps?
Just to show the diversity in this place, we have love-child Dana on one side and what appears to be a European head of state from the 1910s on the other.
There is something almost disgustingly and inexplicably sexy in this look of Paris’s as he replies indolently to Anderssarian’s banter.
Meanwhile, Barney is in their room practising to be a bingo caller as he reads through the hands to Paris.
In case we’ve forgotten how Paris is receiving this information, it’s through his glasses. THROUGH HIS GLASSES. Try to remember that. Otherwise we might be forced to have close-ups of his eyes again, and that would be – um – actually, forget it.
(Through his glasses, by the way.)
You know how that say a person’s nose and ears never stop growing? Case in point.
Paris has hands, by the way. Oh yes. Hands. Good hands.
He continues to be sexy in a dirty-card-player way, and I’m up to 40 caps only ten minutes in Dammit.
I never thought those kind of glasses and a dodgy suit could be so sexy.
Goddammit, Paris, stop it! (He’s busy courteously mean to Dana, who doesn’t have enough money to keep playing. We’re setting something up with Anderssarian here.)
Oh, that casual eyebrow lift...
I wouldn’t know what’s going on here if you hit me over the head with a card playing manual, but according to Barney Anderssarian couldn’t ‘win this hand if he cheated,’ but Paris gives up, so they’re obviously up to something.
So now Dana does her bit, flirting outrageously with Anderssarian right in front of his lady friend. Nicole is not impressed.
When Dana leaves and Nicole goes upstairs, tired, Anderssarian gets a cryptic note – from Willy, no less. Willy shows him a ring with a stamp on it of the same symbol. ‘The man who owns this ring needs your help,’ he says. ‘The man who owns this ring is dead,’ Anderssarian replies. But no, Willy replies. He’s being held by the police. He’s in serious trouble. I would give you a screencap of Willy here, but I’m going to need to take a few of Jim in just a second.
Jim is looking sweaty and worse for wear.
He’s still under interrogation, but all he will say is, ‘My name is Gottfried Brauner. I am an Argentine citizen,’ in a German accent. Ah, those well known German Argentines. I suppose there must be some.
Oh, those eyes... He tells his interrogator that he’s a tourist. A tourist stealing radar base plans...
Oh, Jim, you are pretty.
Jim keeps on being hopelessly pretty, but that won’t help with his would-be torturer.
He looks a little resigned. And pretty.
So, here is where we see the plan start to come together... Anderssarian has come to spring Jim because Jim is the one who had the funky ring...
Anderssarian (gosh it gets tiring typing that name over and over) believes this is ‘Hans Telmann, at 25 commander of the most elite group in the Nazi army, the Telmann unit.’ (Wow. Nazism aside, that would be a sight to see.) Hans Telmann’s group is supposed to have rescued Anderssarian, and Anderssarian sent him the ring in gratitude.
And here is the ‘proof.’ The original Telmann was said to have been wounded in the neck, and died. But here is Jim, with the scar. ‘Hans Telmann died. Gottfried Brauner lives,’ Jim says.
Telmann has a reputation for dismantling an entire naval communications centre in Loch Ayreshire and delivering it intact to Germany. And thus flat-pack furniture was born. So... Anderssarian believes Jim, or Telmann, or Brauner, is here to do the same with the nearby radar station.
I could take a lot of screencaps of Jim here, but he basically looks the same in all of them.
Meanwhile, Dana is being flirtatious on the phone, making eyes and giggling and doing all that sexy stuff that I find much more off-putting than her just being Dana.
...and Nicole is also there doing a kind of ‘mirror, mirror, on the wall,’ thing, as Dana giggles about how she likes older men, and then puts down the phone only to pick it up again and order champagne to her suite.
The minidress is really mini this year, and Nicole is not amused. (Meanwhile Anderssarian is negotiating for Jim’s release, with devious designs on the radar station.)
And so, Jim is sprung, in his slightly grubby jacket.
Armand (let’s call him that – it’s easier to type) doesn’t pull any punches. He wants the radar station.
Look at the smile. That smile is Jim telling Armand he’s not interested in the slightest.
But Armand’s lackey makes it clear that it is only Armand between him and jail.
So, Armand wants to pay $1 million. Jim beats him up to $5 million.
Jim’s got his thinking face on. He’s got Armand right where he wants him. $5 million, eh? Isn’t that exactly what Armand needs to pay for the weapons he has on order?
Yeah, I just like this shot. Jim closes the deal. Bosh.
So, Jim is still being German, and going through the plans with his men.
I’m sorry, but these four don’t look like a crack radar-station-stealing team.
Armand’s lackey is questioning him on how they’ll pass the border. Jim is pretty, and yet also masterful. ‘I am here as Monsieur Anderssarian’s personal representative,’ the lackey says. ‘Good. Then represent him in silence,’ Jim says bluntly.
Dana is being all slutty (so I imagine Nicole, who is watching surreptitiously, would think) and seductive in her braless and relatively see-through dress as she comes out of her room, talking to someone inside.
Forgive me. It’s not a dress. But it could so easily be.
So, Nicole does her jealous-spy thing, just as Dana wanted her to, and slips into her room...
Wahey! Look what she finds in the bathroom! Subtext, anyone? (We may need a few shots of this.)
That’s a hell of an outfit she’s wearing, a kind of silken fore-running of the hideous velour tracksuits that are to come. Yes, of course we’re looking at her outfit. What else is there in this shot?
Pecs, anyone?
How about some arm?
A little chest? (What is that towel thing?)
Would you like some more chest? Look, that towel thing even appears to have a pocket. If only the elastic would break...
I know, dear. We all felt like that as soon as he stepped out of shot. (It’s only after this stunning distraction that she notices Barney’s computer and what it must do, but we don’t need any shots of her looking prettily puzzled.)
So, while Nicole is being rather vacant and puzzled, Jim and his goons are sitting in a crate in a lorry belonging to the ‘International Hospital Administration’ on their way to dismantle a radar station. Presumably Armand’s lackey is going to think they’re going across the border to the real radar station, whereas in fact they’re going to Jim’s mock-up on this side, in a plot slightly reminiscent of Season 3’s ‘The Bargain.’ It’s always easy to fool a man in a box. It really is very light in this box, though.
Again like ‘The Bargain,’ Willy is playing a tape with sounds broadcast into the back of the lorry to make it sound as if they’re passing the border.
I’m not sure that Red Cross/milkman is Jim’s best look.
Armand’s lackey is relieved as they’re ‘passed’ through the ‘border.’ He looks like he should be playing a Nazi in ’Allo ’Allo. If you don’t know ’Allo ’Allo you should watch it. You’ll either find it funny or horrifying, or both.
This Mediterranean country looks suspiciously like southern California – although to be fair, if you wanted southern California to look like anywhere far southern Europe might be close.
Paris has got dressed after his bathroom moment. Why couldn’t we watch him get dressed? Why? Sigh... There’s always Catlow...
Nicole has changed too, and wearing this – How do I describe it? Velour mock-Native-American/Cowgirl minidress chic? I’m sure I’ve seen cushions made of this stuff in a 1970s caravan. Now she knows Paris/Harry Kroll is out of the hotel she calls up Armand so they can do a spot of lock-picking and see the computer.
My mistake. It’s not a minidress. Like Dana’s outfit, it’s another of those tops that could be a minidress but has flares with it. I don’t know why I dislike it so much. Perhaps it’s the zip up the back. It just looks cheap and hideous. Armand, meanwhile, as we vomit over her outfit, is admiring the computer, and noticing he can tune his hearing aid in to the frequency. Nicole is like a child who has brought her parent a drawing she’s spent hours on, but Armand is dismissive and cruel, just for the sake of it, it seems. He seems to delight in tormenting her emotionally. He is very good at playing an utterly screwed up old man.
This is it. Not only has Jim had the radar station mocked up here, he’s also somehow persuaded the landscape to be identical, too. Such is the power of the IMF. I do kind of want a giant golf club to come down and tee off, though.
The guys are getting suited up to gas the personnel at the radar station.
Jim is looking handsome again as they get Armand’s lackey worried about the gas masks. He wants to come with them, but Jim assures him that one whiff of the gas and he’s dead. On reflection, the lackey decides to stay and watch from the hill as Jim asked him to.
Wow, look at this place. It’s huge. That’s a man in the triangular window in the golf ball there.
The gas is working. It’s a good thing this is a ruse, because if it weren’t I would be spluttering at the ridiculousness of trying to take out an entire radar station with something as uncontrollable as clouds of white gas.
Meanwhile, Barney is doing his bingo caller routine again.
And Paris is looking handsome, while Armand listens in to Barney’s commentary through his hearing aid. But Barney, of course, has a trick up his sleeve. He is transmitting fake info to Armand, but can talk to Paris privately on another frequency.
What a smile. I’m getting flashbacks as Spock-inhabitated-by-the-Medusan-Ambassador in Is There In Truth No Beauty?
The heist appears to consist of stealing a single cabinet. I’m sure Barney could have worked out a way of doing that without gassing the entire base.
They’re back to pick up the lackey. There’s been a hell of a fire in these parts recently.
And as soon as the lackey is in the lorry and trundling away, the watchman in the golf ball blows a whistle, and the dead miraculously come back to life. Is it rather fitting that this guy looks a bit like Radar from M*A*S*H? A bit. Not a lot. A bit.
Jim looks so much better without the silly hat. He wants his money now.
Gasp! It’s a double cross!
Is Jim bovvered?
Is he bovvered? Look at his face. Does his face look bovvered? Face? Bovvered? No, he is not bovvered.
He doesn’t need to be bothered. They have guns, but Jim has a gas mask and Willy has a canister of lethal gas.
Would you argue with this?
I like Jim when he’s masterful. Have I said this before?
That’s a sexy ass car, too.
Look at that car!
Here’s the equipment they stole. How did all that fit in that box? I think they must have put more in the lorry than we saw. More to the point, shouldn’t James Kirk be using his illogical humanity to cause them to blow themselves up? Anyway, the government guy who comes to look is disappointed. They’re useless shells.
Meanwhile, Armand gets the phone call to tell him they’ve been had, and lost $5 million. Now all he has is the chance of winning the money...
Paris watches, attentively, prettily.
Dana exchanges looks with Paris. I think the natural look suits her more than this.
I quite like her dress here, though.
Paris is giving us a Russian look as he convinces Armand to raise the stakes.
There’s a lot of Paris-smiles going on. He wants to put up $3 million. Armand suggests $5 million.
Nicole senses a chance for revenge. Armand shouldn’t have been so mean to her. All she wanted was love.
Nicole ‘trips’ and spills her drink all over the table. Barney’s equipment goes dead.Barney is consternated.
It’s odd that Barney’s equipment is so thoroughly shorted out since the drink appears to beading on top of the baize instead of soaking through.
Nicole is very pleased with herself.
Armand is less chipper about the situation.
Paris is not exactly sanguine, either.
Jim’s back just in time for the bad news. Well, we couldn’t have the mission going that smoothly, could we?
Paris has eyes... Did you know his glasses have speakers in them?
There’s a face of concentration. Barney has just told him (and Armand) that they’re in trouble, and he needs to stall for time. From now on the game really is a game, and the tension is huge. I don’t even know what they’re playing. Poker? Blackjack? But it’s still tense.
Oh my god look at those hands.
You feel that Armand’s entire life is riding on this. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I think Armand’s hand looks better than Paris’s. It could be fizzbin for all I know, though.
It kind of looks like they’re playing for hotel soap.
This is Armand’s hand. Does this look good? What the hell are they playing?
Armand bets all his money. Barney tells Paris the bad news. The machine is totally broken.
Paris continues to have eyes. Good god, eyes. Wow. I don’t know anyone with brown eyes, I mean, not to stare into. It would be nice to stare into some brown eyes for once.
This is the face of a man on the spot. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Paris looking so nakedly vulnerable. There’s a little of Spock in him here.
Let’s have a moment of Dana looking tense/moody too. I’ve been avoiding her because she’s not as attractive.
Look at that eyebrow. What a beautiful thing.
This is Paris’s hand. Again, I have no idea.
He takes off his glasses. He is out of contact, alone. And he chooses to call.
Paris has three sevens. Whatever that means, it’s better than what Armand has.
Armand is beautifully understated in his defeat.
Paris is just as understated in his victory.


Armand has the look of the walking dead, as if he might just as well go out and put a revolver in his mouth.
It’s at this point that the guy selling the arms walks in to tell him the ship has sailed and the cargo is his on receipt of final payment. Armand is pushed over the edge into hysterical laughter. Another villain done for by the IMF.
Lots of smiles. ‘Paris. You won,’ Jim says.
Paris feigns indignation. ‘Naturally,’ he replies. And this, dear friends, is Leonard Nimoy’s end in Mission: Impossible. But not the end of my screencapping of him, because I'm not doing it in order.
Well, almost. We do get a nice close-up of his hand, and the studio lights reflected in the glasses. Good night, Paris. God bless.