Tuesday, 10 September 2013
Mission: Impossible S4E21 - Lover's Knot
Well, I have to say that Lover's Knot is a painful episode. Paris in love is as hard to take as Spock in love. Actually, it's harder. With Spock you get the marvellous internal struggle. With Paris it's just weird. But it's not just that. It's that the producers seem to feel that we need to be bludgeoned over the head with the idea that Paris is in love and that Jim and Barney are concerned. It's the kind of technique you see when an author isn't sure about a plot point. I do it myself. You keeping giving reasons why this is happening, and reminding the audience that it's happening. It's unnecessary, or should be if the plot holds up.
Then we get the weird Barbara Cartland (to borrow from a friend) montage to show their love. I'm not sure if this is to suggest time passing (after all, the episode seems to slip seamlessly from autumn to February 14th) or to show the depth of their attraction, but it's not Mission: Impossible. It's really not.
You'll also have to forgive me for pointing out a lot how southern California does not look like the English home counties. It just doesn't. I'm sorry. But on the other hand we get Paris in tweed and Jim in a rather lovely brass-buttoned uniform – and a hat! We get to see Jim gambling and being drunk and having a fake fist fight with Paris, and being fake-killed and thrown into a fake-furnace that Barney's made. All worth it.
Look, we're in London! There are London buses and no-left-turn signs and all sorts. Yay!
There are the Houses of Parliament getting a Mission: Impossible stamp on them! This is an unconventional opening. No Jim picking up a message. No voice on the tape machine...
Instead there's a burning picture of 'Cora' on the fire and a dead man on the floor and someone trying to make it look as if he's committed suicide. This does not bode well for those who fall in love with Cora.
Meanwhile, outside the US embassy... there are zebra crossings and Belisha beacons and a man in a flat cap. Very British, what what!
It turns out that the IMF are over in Blighty to stop the head of the espionage organisation which was involved in the man, Patterson's, death. He was being blackmailed for the unscrambler codes for the embassy's telephones, and was killed by the gang. Paris is already strangely maudlin over the photo of Lady Cora Weston (Jane Merrow), even though he knows she is part of this group.
I must say, this is not the face to produce instant infatuation.
Paris seems maudlin and regretful with the photo in his hands.
Jim is quick to remind us that it is NOT LADY WESTON THAT WE'RE INTERESTED IN. Paris, take note. Don't be interested. It's her boss we want, the enigmatic 'K.' It's all a bit obvious at this point. Jim says that she'll zero in on him, Jim, but Paris may have a problem. He didn't bargain on Paris's magnetic attraction, though. Paris is maudlin still at the thought of this beautiful black widow type. We can see what we're being set up for. Paris is a romantic at heart.
They're not keeping local police informed. They're on their own. This caption is merely an excuse for the screenshot that shows Jim with such very, very blue eyes.
And here's Barney to prove that we love him too, and he is actually in this episode – unlike poor old Willy. Maybe his passport wasn't in order?
Paris, with his semi-perm, is still brooding... Oh dear.
Here are some very English baddies, complete with strange-looking-trigger-happy hit man on the left, Rorke – who in real life was originally from Manchester, and at one point was a Methodist minister. Well. Actually a lot of these guest stars are originally from England. Kudos to MI for getting people with the right accents.
Wow. Look at this. This is Lady Weston's home – the Home Counties, by way of the Rockies. I wonder if anyone from California has ever seen the Chilterns? Since I'm in picky mode, I'll point out the wooden fence, the dry grass, the dry dusty track, the trees, the architecture. No. This is not England.
Here, by the way, are the Chilterns. My diatribe is slightly shot in the foot by the fence in the foreground here, but I think it's metal, and not very common compared to hedges and wire fences.
Paris and Lady Weston are desperately trying to pretend it's England though. Paris has on his tweed with elbow patches. There's a lovely horse in the mix. Damn, why didn't they get Jim to do the horsey stuff? He's so good with horses and such a good rider...
He's wearing a cravat, though, so maybe we can forgive him.
I'm guessing Paris is supposed to know something about horses as he kneels down to inspect the horse's injury. And we get to see him crouching on the stable floor looking cute.
'The world hasn't run out of happy endings yet,' Paris says, setting us up for tragedy later.
Oh. My. God. Jim, posing as 'Commander Tom Monroe,' in a very, very hot uniform.
Meanwhile, Paris gets to stand next to a lady wearing bacofoil.
I'd like to interpret Paris's conversation with Lord Weston as a marvellous bit of double meaning and innuendo. He starts off by saying, 'I stopped by your stables, and was very impressed.' (and we all know what he was impressed by. It wasn't the horses.) 'Do you ride?' he asks. (Does he ride what?)
'No, I leave that to my wife,' Lord Weston replies. 'I'm afraid it's far too strenuous for a man in his dotage.'
Paris laughs politely. I'm sure he must be aware of what they've both just been talking about.
I'm sorry. I love Leonard Nimoy. I do. But side by side, in those outfits, there's a clear winner for me.
Paris is pensive again as Lady Weston and Jim chat. Jim's starting to sound just a tiny bit drunk. Paris is starting to look a tiny bit smitten.
This is just a lovely look. I'm not sure why Jim's looking worried too, unless it's because it's hard to conceive of a beautiful woman committing evil. Jim goes off for more champagne. Paris decides to ask Lady Weston to get away from the party in a very obviously romantic way, despite the fact that she's married.
And so follows a dubious romantic interlude where a woman who definitely isn't Jane Merrow and a man who may or may not be Leonard Nimoy canter around on horses in the autumn (fall) in a bizarrely parched and unfenced part of southern England (southern California.) Must have been a hell of a summer.
The interlude continues. There's lots of fading shots into other shots and wistful voiceovers from Cora and Paris.
'We strive so hard and all we really want is this, isn't it?' Cora asks. For the rolling downs to become huge hills and England to be far, far more sunny than it ever dreamt of, perhaps?
'I need a shoulder, Bill. A shoulder to cry on,' she tells Paris as they drift over a lake, and he laughs understandingly, because even though they're wistful, they're happy.
But nothing is that simple. As the relentless ennui of her life as a trophy wife/spy crashes over her she is accosted by Rorke, the trigger-happy hit man, who reminds her she needs to go after the communications officer (Jim), not Paris. Sigh...
So she calls to ask Jim out for a date at the casino. Paris will not be happy.
Jim is looking good, with his tie undone. The tie gives you something to grab on to.
Paris is pensive (still/again.)
Jim is worried. Barney is worried. Paris has suddenly become a dodgy romantic wild card.
At the casino, the staff are really very obvious about the rigged table. The director here was very keen on 'looks' and reaction shots in this one – but it's Reza Badiyi, who I thought was usually better than this. They're going to let Jim win for a bit, then let him lose. Bad casino.
Now he's losing.
Writing out cheques, all left-handed and pretty, getting out the cigarettes. Still losing. And it's Valentine's Day, too, which is strange considering Cora established it was autumn earlier. Have they been in London that long?
He's starting to sweat. And has pretty eyes.
This is the face of a desperate man. Don't gamble, folks. The house always wins. Jim's Valentine's Day date ends in him walking out of the casino, a broken man.
Luckily for Cora, Paris is on the case, ready to drop in on her the next morning. Ennui is weighing heavily on her shoulders again.
Also luckily for her, Paris is wearing a pretty cravat. I wonder if he has a separate suitcase just for cravats?
By all rights Cora should be an alcoholic. She has an empty life that she despises, and spends her time acting as a kind of high class prostitute. Paris is jealous of her 'fun' with Jim and really is being very unprofessional. Somehow he's fallen in love with a completely unattainable woman who he knows is a spy, and he's acting like a spoilt boy who's been refused sex because she's doing as she's supposed to and making up to Jim. I find it hard to have too much sympathy with Paris in this episode. He plays hurt and pensive and deep-voiced (yum) very well, but really, he's being an idiot. In this line of work he can't afford that, and neither can his team. (That is a bit of a lie. I do have sympathy for him, because Leonard Nimoy plays it well enough to make me feel sympathy – but this bit of writing doesn't do justice to his character.)
But he manages to get some making out done, at least.
'Why did you choose Tom?' he asks rather unfairly. He knows exactly why she had to choose Tom.
'Because I was afraid to choose you,' she replies. That's when they kiss, and the violins start playing. He's rather cruel, really. He's offering her something that neither of them can have.
A little extra screencap to say, Hands! Oh my god, hands! (Well, hand, but you know what I mean.) And about that other hand, hers, the one we're not looking at. I wonder if they deliberately set up the shot to show her wedding ring so prominently? I know it's not hugely prominent in this screencap, but it is through the kiss.
And then this one because it's just rather beautiful.
Dear god, have mercy! The uniform, and now the hat! This episode is proving difficult. I'm taking too many screencaps.
Rorke tells Jim to get into the car, at gun point, probably because he's annoyed at how hot Jim looks.
This is where Mr Conway (of the Conway casino) tells Jim he owes him $50,000 and has until tonight to get it. Aha, a subject ripe for blackmail!
Meanwhile, Paris was still making out with Cora, when the telephone rings.
It's Jim. Paris will be pleased...
If that were Spock sitting there, that glass would be crushed powder in his fist. It's hard to tell from this angle, but I have to wonder if his cravat has been undone. His jacket's come off, and his cravat looks ruffled. And we all know what that means. It's like Jim (Kirk) pulling on his boots with a lovely blonde in his cabin.
Jim (Phelps) looks like a naughty little boy in Cora's room, as he asks her for money.
This is where Rorke and Conway burst in.
'I'm going to kill you,' Rorke says, 'and I'm going to enjoy doing it, Commander.' Nice guy.
Rorke is such a nice guy that he's standing there stroking his gun. But Cora promises, weeping, to get them the money. She's a good actor.
Paris is still brooding. Yes, still.
Hands! Do they belong to Peter Graves? I hope so. They look right. (He's holding the unscrambler he's going to pass over to the bad guys, that will convince them they're listening to real info, but we're not looking at that.)
'How did she handle herself?' Paris asks.
Jim gives one of those short, in-the-chest laughs I love and says, 'She's a talented young lady.'
'And a very misguided one,' Paris says, broodingly. Because she can't possibly have got into all this off her own back. Not at all.
In case that we don't get that Paris is too emotionally involved we get reaction shots again. One from Barney.
And one from Jim. We even get a couple more between Barney and Jim after Jim reminds Paris that she's a cold, cold woman. (I'm sorry, but every time I say 'Barney and Jim' I get the theme tune to Rosie and Jim running through my head. I so want a series with Barney and Jim's adventures on a canal boat. Kinda like Quincy and Sam but without the forensics and the homoerotics. Maybe without the homoerotics...)
My brain can't quite process this. Barney is hauling a large box up the stairs. By all rights Barney should be in the box. Can we have an episode without Barney being in a box?
Barney's setting up some devious plot with a furnace. Which begs the question – do we/did we ever have things like this in the UK? The furnace in the cellar seems a very American thing.
So here are our naughty spies listening and getting all the wrong information. Ha. That'll learn 'em. I think the information is implicating Paris in all sorts of wrongdoings, but I've lost track of the names.
Meanwhile, Barney is a fricking genius. I wonder sometimes why Mission: Impossible was so expensive – after all, a lot of the effects just involve using set design secrets!
Meanwhile, Paris is (still) brooding, waiting for Cora to phone. We get another reaction shot of Jim being worried, but I can't cap them all. Not really. It would all just be endless caps of Paris looking pretty and brooding and Jim looking pretty and worried.
More impassioned kissing, which of course Rorke is filming and getting off on.
Enter Jim, drunk. I like drunk Jim.
Jim pretends to be very pissed off about Paris being there, in an adorably drunk way.
So Jim and Paris stage a lovely fight over whether or not Cora is a tramp. Jim hits Paris.
Paris hits Jim... (Thigh, ass, rarr)
And Jim falls over and cracks his head on the hearth in a very traditional-accidental-manslaughter-scenario way.
'He's dead,' Paris says in a shocked voice. He has the magic power of telling that someone is dead by touching the back of their head. It's very useful.
I won't mention the fact that Jim has camel toe (I'd say moose knuckle, but really it looks like camel toe). Apart from the fact that he's breathing very subtly, Jim (or the Commander, at least) is quite, quite dead. To be fair he's doing very well, but his hand on his abdomen gives him away a little as it moves.
Barney is getting ready for the inevitable dead body. Barney gets himself into all sorts of uncomfortable situations, doesn't he?
Jim also seems to have broken his ankle during the move from Cora's flat to the cellar. I do hope that's a fire blanket he's wrapped in, because no matter how fast Paris shoves him in, it's going to smart.
Well, hello, Jim! That was a risky stunt – although I must say I felt reassured at having Barney on the other side. It didn't have quite the same feeling of peril as when he was put into a huge furnace in the Season 2 episode The Killing because he was being carried by one of the team and had one of the team on the other side to receive him. But Jim does seem to be in the habit of being fake-killed and put into furnaces.
Barney and Jim are still worried about Paris. I wonder if Jim ever stops to think about the strangeness of his job. Here he is sitting in a fake furnace with his friend having just peeled a fake head wound from the back of his head. Not the usual day job. (May I also mention – hands. Yum.)
Meanwhile, Paris and Cora try to reconcile themselves to what's happened, no doubt both acting a lot. Well, Cora may not be. She hadn't expected 'Tom' to die.
Paris tells Cora that they're tied together now. This is where things start getting more complicated, as Cora tells Rorke to come in with the tape. But you can tell that she feels for Paris more than she had ever expected to. Paris is more than a little miffed.
Paris is doing a good job at looking shocked and betrayed as he 'discovers' that Cora works with Rorke and they've taped the embassy's phone calls.
Cora has a look of pity in her eyes. Rorke has a look of not giving a flying toss except to be pleased that he's screwed someone over.
Cora tells him that her people want to offer him asylum – in return for what he knows. She even offers to come with him.
'Cora, can't you stop selling yourself?' Paris asks sadly. 'Or has it become a reflex?'
Oh dear, this love affair is so, so doomed. He seems so betrayed – but he always knew that she was a spy.
Paris insists that he will only talk to 'K.' Cora and Rorke find this somewhat shocking. Cora reminds him that if anything goes wrong, 'he'll kill us both.' Is Paris's lip-biting for himself or for her?
Cor blimey, Mary Poppins. That's a Rolls Royce on the left, and a lovely copper on a bicycle on the right. We really are in merry old England. Except that the car that drives by is left hand drive. (I'm sure England is no more stereotyped or misrepresented in this episode than Germany is in so many other episodes, and I am being very Anglo-centric here, but it is amusing for me.)
So we get to see Paris blindfolded by Rorke and he drives off in another left hand drive car.
Luckily Jim (oh, the blue eyes...) and Barney are tracking him through a device in his cuff link.
Our driver appears to be very lost. He's in a left hand drive car, driving on the left of the road, on an English road that has bizarrely acquired double yellow lines down the centre... Let's not mention the very American buildings and slack-wired telegraph poles in the background. Or the huge mountains they're driving towards.
Jim, because he is awesome, has managed to get hold of a right hand drive car. Good boy. Also, I like this shot.
So Paris has his blindfold removed to reveal – shock! – K is actually Lord Weston! We never expected that!
Now, there's an awkward meeting...
Poor Paris... There's lot of intense staring going on between him and Cora.
Jim is confused. They were trying to track Paris, but have ended up in the Californian hills...
Actually, Jim isn't confused. He's cooler than that. He simply picks up his phone to report they've found K and Scotland Yard should be sent to get Paris out.
K really is a ruthless bastard. When they intercept a call to say that Paris's character has been cleared of all wrongdoing, K tries to make him become a double agent, offering him more money, and making Cora 'completely available' to him. There are a lot of pained looks between Cora and Paris. Cora really is nothing to K.
I could take a lot of caps here, but Barney and Jim in the bushes has to be a winner. They're waiting for Paris to be driven out. But Lord Weston has just received a call to say that one of the parties in the phone calls they were intercepting has just dropped dead. Twenty minutes before the last phone call. Ouch. So the gate guard is pulling out a gun to stop Paris, and all hell is about to break loose. And while that could be illustrated with any number of shots, Jim and Barney looking worried in the bushes has to be the most visually pleasing.
Luckily for Paris, Jim is there with his 'I'm going to hit you' grimace, to take out the guard. But Paris intends to go back for Cora.
'You were used, Cora,' Lord Weston tells her. 'Used most outrageously.'
That pretty much sums up her life, I think.
Never let it be said that Jim lets his buddies down. He's gone back with Paris in the guise of the chauffeur, and is giving Rorke a much needed clip around the ear.
I just love the way that Jim's doing this all out karate chop, and Paris carries on walking, just looking casually over his shoulder.
Would you mess with these guys? If you would you'd be a fool. Understandably Cora is rather shocked to see 'Tom' come back from the dead.
Because Jim is a gentleman he likes to take his hat off when holding someone at gunpoint.
This is how it ends so many times for Paris/Spock. Poor guy. It's all impossible. He will always be lonely.
Jim very pointedly leaves Lord Weston alone with his gun on the table. In his own way he's showing him mercy. Better to die than to be captured.
After they've left, we hear the obligatory Mission: Impossible off-screen gunshot. Is suicide always better than capture?
It's a sad but pretty car full.
Paris is sad. They're taking Cora to Scotland Yard. She's going to be in prison pretty much forever. Sigh...
'I was through with him. I really was,' Cora says.
'It's just too late,' Paris tells her. It's always too late for Paris.
Barney and Jim exchange another of their 'we're worried about Paris' looks, because we need to know that Barney and Jim are worried about Paris, in case we haven't gleaned this. Perhaps later they'll take him and get him roaring drunk and buy him a prostitute and he'll forget about Cora.
And so they drive away... It's a long, long way from southern California to Scotland Yard...