Thursday, 30 April 2015

Mission: Impossible S4E20 - Terror

Terror is one of those hit and miss episodes. I feel like it could be better, but it’s hard to pin down why. On the other hand we get to see Jim trying out a British accent and Paris in a headdress. We also get to see Arlene Martel, aka T’Pring from Amok Time, looking stunning as usual, and Michael Tolan, who is also in the Mission episodes The Play, and Trial By Fury. Because of these things it rates quite highly for me. It’s also giving me ideas for a Star Trek/Mission: Impossible crossover (sshh, I have no plot yet.) There’s just something about this episode, though, aesthetically. It’s very beige and brown, and the other colours are over bright. It just isn’t very pretty. Don’t worry about the colours, though. Just sit back and look how blue Jim’s eyes look in the prison uniform scenes, and imagine the deep rumble of Paris’s voice.

Hi, Jim! Jim’s in another one of those cars that look big enough to be a decent sized private yacht.
I have to say, Jim’s looking quite young and blonde here. Yum.
Today, Jim is getting his mission from an apparently broken down station wagon. It’s one of those episodes where the cassette goes into the car stereo.
So, a man who doesn’t have Peter Graves’ hands gets a photo out of the Middle East’s most ruthless terrorist, Ismet El Kabir. This is Michael Tolan (also in two episodes of Route 66), who crops up in a couple of other Mission: Impossible episodes, and I love him. I think he’s marvellous. I cannot see him as anything like the Middle East’s most ruthless terrorist. Most ruthless teddy bear, perhaps. Jim has to make sure that El Kabir is never released, in order to prevent a terrorist uprising.

Then there’s this guy, El Kabir’s secret supporter, Ahmed Vassier (David Opatoshu), also presented by not-Peter-Graves’ hands. I have similar problems with him, because I think he may be Robin Cook in an Arab headdress. He also played Anan 7 in Star Trek’s A Taste of Armageddon.

This is Robin Cook not in a headdress.
Look at this. No ladies present. Just the four guys and an olive oil bottle. Hmm. Interesting... I’m saying nothing.
Willy’s looking very solid and handsome, as usual. I bet he has to have his suits specially made. He asks him when Major Sulti and Captain Lewis were captured.
‘Lewis?’ Paris asks, intrigued, giving us a chance to see how nice he looks in his open collar and neck tie. Jim tells him he’s a former British intelligence officer who stayed on in the country as a mercenary. He also stayed on, the Mission: Impossible Dossier suggests, because it would be impossible for Jim to disguise himself as an Arab. As a result, we’ll get to hear him later putting on a British accent. Actually, we won’t, because this blog doesn’t have audio. What a shame.
They chat for a bit, and I try to resist taking screencaps repeatedly of Jim and Paris looking pretty. Then Paris gets this photo out. ‘El Kabir’s woman,’ he says. ‘Interesting face.’ No!!!! Spock!!! It’s T’Pring!!! *ahem. Sorry.
She’s called Atheda and is played, of course, by Arlene Martel. With El Kabir in prison she runs the organisation. ‘She’s committed at least a dozen murders. She’ll commit a dozen more if she thinks his life is in jeopardy,’ Jim warns Paris. Paris probably has that tingling feeling of familiarity, but he doesn’t quite know why.
Paris is getting strange unaccountable flashbacks of rolling around in dust and sand, feeling randy as a stoat, while people ring bells.
Barney isn’t having any such flashbacks, but I wanted the chance of getting a screencap of him. He looks equally perturbed at the thought of coming up against such a ruthless woman.
Meanwhile, in a Middle Eastern country that looks suspiciously like southern California...
These two handsome men are loitering on the road in the path of the high explosives lorry. Look at that beard on Barney! Feeling self-conscious about the beard, Barney runs off to hide in the bushes, while Willy flags the lorry down.
While Willy distracts the men with his accent, Barney sneaks into the back of the truck.
You know, Barney, while I acknowledge the need to render these guys unconscious with gas, I don’t think I would have done it by means of a kind of Roman candle ignited with a lighter in the back of a lorry that’s packed to the gills with explosives.
My mistake. He’s not knocking them unconscious. He’s making it look smoky. I suppose that would give you pause if you were the driver, for the reasons just cited.
The guys leap out of the truck and run down the hill, as you’d expect them to. At this point Barney jumps out of the back and hops into the driving seat, and off he goes. Slick, Barney. Very slick.
Meanwhile, El Kabir is in jail and the guard tells him that Minister Vassier will be here soon to tell him what to say in his press release when he’s let out. El Kabir doesn’t want to cooperate with that.
I know he’s a hardened terrorist, but really, he’s a teddy bear.
Our two soldiers are walking along the road when a jeep arrives, and look who’s in it!
‘Our truck was stolen,’ one of them says. He does a little mime of a steering wheel just to emphasise the meaning of the word ‘truck.’ I have to say, he looks a little drunk.
Paris makes quite a nice Arab-esque person, but I can see why they decided to make Jim’s character English. Arab via Norway is not quite plausible. ‘Calm down, soldier,’ Paris tells him. It sounds like a catchphrase.
Oh, wow, Barney! Not content with the beard, he now has a fez too. This is awesome!
And here she is. T’Pring, come to take his order (coffee and baklava, if you’re wondering). I must try not to call her that. She’s Atheda here, but she is pretty much as composed and badass as T’Pring was.
Barney starts to lure her in by speaking of El Kabir.
This is nicely shot with Barney in this curtained off booth, talking to Atheda through the grille as he tells her about the army truck of explosives that was stolen. ‘I’ll bring your baklava,’ she says, in a seductive tone. There’s an unlying air of, ‘any man who can offer me high explosives is going to get baklava and a whole lot more.’
So, Sulti and Lewis’s IDs are being looked at. Gosh, I bet it was easy to fake an ID in those days.
im’s looks a bit like he was saying, ‘Now, look here you chaps!’ as the photo was taken. And can you get a more English name than Alan Lewis? I suppose you can, but still...
They’ve arrived at the place where El Kabir is being held, and so of course the guy in charge has to be very careful to be sure their credentials are right. They’re not right, but this is Jim he’s up against, so he’ll never know.
Some of the extra precautions include getting Paris to talk on the phone with a guy called Rafik, who presumably doesn’t really know what Major Sulti sounds like.
Meanwhile, Barney is convincing Atheda that he does in fact have the army truck by showing her the license plate.
Arlene Martel is always so impressive. I think it must come naturally to her.
Rene from ’Allo ’Allo comes in to search Barney. (Actually it’s ‘Jenab’, played Ron Feinberg, who was in three other Mission episodes, but hereafter I call him Rene, because I didn’t get his name at the time.)
Barney looks a little bit reproachful, like he never expected a woman who gave him baklava to then order him to be searched by a French Resistance fighter.
I swear this is Rene.
I mean, look!
Barney tries to be all masterful. ‘What difference does it make who I am?’ he asks. T’Pring – I mean Atheda – tells him either he will tell them where the explosives are, or they will kill him. This results in us getting a good look at Barney’s freckles.
Meanwhile, Paris is being shouted at on the phone by Rafik, who is telling them to come back to headquarters no matter how many dynamite trucks have been stolen.
Jim’s got something of a Hugh Laurie expression on. Is vacant gaping a feature of British men?
Paris is looking inscrutable.
Jim is looking worried, in a slightly gormless, English way.
But Jim presses in a button on the end of a biro (very Man from Uncle) which signals Willy at his rather lovely antique roll top desk and desk chair, which are in a warehouse, it seems, with the army lorry and jeep, and so Willy phones back...
Paris and Jim and just leaving. Now, I know Leonard Nimoy isn’t that much shorter than Peter Graves, but he looks it here. It must have been odd for him going from a cast where he was one of the tallest, to being the shortest.
Paris listens intently to the phone conversation. Is Willy pretending to be Rafik? I can’t quite imagine it.
I know, this is an almost identical cap, but he’s pretty.
Jim is looking pretty too. I’m sorry, Jim. I’m not ignoring you. I’m really not. It’s just – things are hard at the moment. Leonard Nimoy is very much in my thoughts.
Well, apparently Willy was impersonating someone, but it turns out to be ‘General Rashned’. Maybe he could have managed that.
General Rashned agrees about the stolen truck and says Sulti and Lewis, aka Paris and Jim, should have a free hand. ‘I will begin with El Kabir,’ Paris says, treating us to a marvellous raised eyebrow.
There was something that got me about Jim’s voice here, something endearing that I couldn’t quite pin down – then I remembered that he’s trying to do an English accent. That’s why he says ‘paasttimes’ as if he’s from Surrey rather than ‘pasttimes’ as if he’s from Lancashire – or Minnesota.
So, Paris goes down to talk to El Kabir.
He sticks the biggest bug in the world under the best with the most impeccably manicured hand in the world. Dear lord, hands...
When Paris implies El Kabir had something to do with the stolen truck, El Kabir responds by suggesting that Paris has a sense of humour. Paris’s non-verbal response? No.
I like this guy. I’ve said it before, I know. And I know I’ve suggested he’s slightly unbelievable as a terrorist due to his teddy-bear qualities, but really, when you actually watch him, he’s very believable as a man who cares fanatically about his people.
He’s quite tall, too. He doesn’t look it. 6’1” according to IMDB.
Too many screencaps? I couldn’t resist the close-up of Paris’s face as El Kabir questions his intelligence. He wants to know what Paris really wants, because he knows he’s not here to talk about the truck on the eve of the election. ‘Kabir, put away your hostility,’ Paris says in a beautiful, purring voice reminiscent of Spock. ‘The government concedes. You have won.’
Have I?’ El Kabir asks. ‘I will not have won until I am the government.’
Meanwhile, Robin Cook, aka Anan 7, aka Vassier, has arrived upstairs.
We have a slightly typical Mission: Impossible moment as Jim steps forward to greet Vassier, and Vassier says, ‘This is not Captain Lewis.’ (Cue an advert break.) The trouble is with these moments is they happen so often, and unless they’re very well played they just seem a bit cliched. This episode does suffer very slightly, as the Mission: Impossible Dossier suggests, from being a rehash of the Season 3 episode Nitro, which funnily enough starred another famous Vulcan, Mark Lenard.
Post-advert break, and Jim still looks aghast. Vassier asserts that he cannot be Captain Lewis because he knows Captain Lewis and Major Solti are across the border.
Jim quickly assures him that it’s all right, they’re back from across the border and their report has been dispatched. Paris returns just as the crisis is over.
This may not be the best Mission: Impossible episode ever, but Paris is very pleasing in it. He’s particularly Spock-like. He reports back that he believes that El Kabir is planning to escape.
Vassier has just called El Kabir a patriot and Paris an ‘irresponsible provocateur.’ Ouch. Strong words.
Next on the agenda, when Vassier leaves to inspect the facilities, is to cast aspersions over his position. ‘It certainly bears out our information, doesn’t it?’ Paris asks, immediately leading the chief to intrigue and then the reassurance of being taken into their trust. I think he’s called Major Marak (played by Joe De Santis. He was also in the Route 66 episode A Feat of Strength.)
Paris tells him the minister has been the subject of a special investigation, and that he’s been associated with the terrorists for years. Jim then suggests that he himself is placed in a cell near El Kabir in order to get information from him.
Meanwhile, Vassier is downstairs trying to get El Kabir to cooperate, and to at least seem grateful for his release. Of course, El Kabir is cynical about his motives.
Next, Paris is busy getting ready to make himself up as Vassier. I like the cinematography here. We go straight from El Kabir insinuating Vassier’s duplicitous nature to Paris in front of multiple images of him and about to impersonate him. He doesn’t look like Leonard Nimoy in the mirror here. I like little moments like this, though. This is what Leonard Nimoy saw whenever he looked at himself. Our mirror image is an intimate thing that really only we share.

When he turns his head, he does look more like himself.
Nooo, Paris, don’t cover up that lovely face!
Oh, Barney! I’d almost forgotten about Barney! Rene has knocked him out!
Vassier is still desperately trying to convince El Kabir not to try to escape. El Kabir has some beautiful lines in this, and Michael Tolan delivers them so well. He tells Vassier, ‘You know, there are little fish that follow sharks and take nourishment from between their teeth. Do the sharks need the little fish, or is it the other way around?’
Paris has got into his Vassier makeup. Willy tells him, ‘Very good, Paris. They should be about ready for you at the café.’ Oh, devious people. I’m always slightly disappointed when Paris is so deep into his disguise that he’s another person, though, because we’re denied Leonard Nimoy on screen.
So, Paris-as-Vassier turns up at the café, and Barney is carried out. Ouch, Barney. I wonder what thoughts are running through Paris’s mind on seeing him beaten up like this? He gives him a little look of concern, but once Barney is gone he tells Atheda that they plan to hang El Kabir. He’s giving her an urgent reason to break him out.
Atheda is not awfully happy with this news.
‘Vassier’ assures her there is a way to save him, and that his ‘business associate, Alan Rogers’ (aka Jim) will be placed in the cell next to him to prepare him. Oh, but these plans are cunning. He tells her about the possibility to tunnel to the cell from the water system.
It doesn’t take long for Atheda to decide to pay Barney some money, at least, for the explosives.
They need to get though this wall. Yes, this one. ‘Not with dynamite,’ Barney tells her. ‘You will need something much more concentrated. Plastique, or nitro.
Poor Barney is quite beaten up. Bechod.
Atheda is thoughtful... She knows that it’s possible to separate the nitro-glycerine from the dynamite. It’s dangerous, but possible.
Yay, Paris is back! The liver spots on his hands are very well done.
He always looks so pleased to be out of this makeup.
Pretty pretty.
Meanwhile, Barney, Willy, Atheda, and Rene are getting ready to make the nitro. Barney wants the rest of them to leave. ‘Have you ever seen a nitro explosion? No blood, no bones, nothing. It’s as though you never were.’
‘Sergeant. I do not frighten,’ Atheda tells him stoically.
So, Barney gets to it.
It’s all very tense as Barney slips the first stick of dynamite into the hot water...
Meanwhile, Jim is being terribly English, and just a little Dick Van Dyke, as he’s thrown into jail...
Kabir is mildly interested, but only mildly.
Oh, lord, Jim.
Jim is concentrating. He has his concentrating face on.
Meanwhile, a thunderstorm is raging, as Barney tries to extract the nitro. Not good. He wants to stop work, but Atheda won’t allow it. (If I were Willy, I’d hold the bottle a bit closer.)
Willy is almost as stoic as Atheda.
Everyone’s nervous though. I would be.
We get another look at Barney’s freckles.
Willy’s looking quite handsome, too.
Jim, meanwhile, is complaining loudly and Britishly about his treatment while simultaneously getting a little notepad and pencil out of the bottom of his shoe and writing a note. He’s dropping a lot of ‘h’s. To be fair to him he doesn’t do too badly. I’m not quite sure which British accent he’s doing, but it’s passable.
Indignant, but cunning. He’s telling El Kabir about the bug that Paris planted earlier.
Oh, Jim, you’re pretty. Michael Tolan is looking quite pretty too, but Jim pips him.
He’s found it. Clever boy.
Jim continues to look highly attractive.
Now El Kabir is definitely intrigued.
Jim tells him that he’s Alan Rogers and he works for Vassier. He tells him about Major Sulti’s ‘plot’ to kill him.
I know I’ve taken too many screencaps, but these colours just really bring out Jim’s eyes.
Paris/Sulti has come down to visit.
Oh, Jim.
Oh, Paris.
When El Kabir gets a little insolent, Paris gets masterful. Oh my.
There’s a nice moment where we can get El Kabir and Jim both in shot together. There’s a lot of prettiness in this episode. I’m not sure why I find it un-aesthetically-pleasing, but I do. I think the colour balance is a bit on the bright side.
Jim looks like he’s about to whisper sweet nothings in El Kabir’s ear.
Paris is – oh god... I don’t think the headdress is the best look for him, but he looks smouldering here. His search of the cell is rather brief, but he does look slim and slim-hipped and lovely as he does it. It’s just I’ve taken 105 screencaps and we’re only half an hour in.
So, Willy, Barney, and Rene are in the caves, ready to start digging...
Rene goes down first. That brown case in the back contains all of the nitro-glycerine.
Atheda gets one last visit with El Kabir...
El Kabir takes the battery out of the listening device again, so they can talk. (Barney, Willy, Rene, and a nameless guy are busy sorting out the explosives in the tunnel, just a few yards away on the other side of the wall. They didn’t present very pretty opportunities for screencaps.
Of course, Atheda confirms everything that has been said, because she’s been fed the same information.
Here they are, working away in the dark...
This is the nameless man, on the left. I don’t know if he ever gets a name, but he’s been in the background for half the episode. Of course, Rene isn’t really called Rene either. I didn’t catch his real name.
Oh, my, Jim. (Atheda is telling El Kabir all about the plan. Jim is listening but not trying to look like he’s intruding, I think.)
El Kabir reinstates the listening device, and then they have a good old snog. If it were real you think the listeners would wonder why it went so quite for so long. Good lord, what children these two would make.
Barney has got to the very delicate point of pouring the nitro into the holes he’s made in the wall. Steady hands, Barney. Steady hands...
Upstairs, Paris is alerting Major Marak to the possible escape attempt...
Oh dear. A last minute twist. Vassier has turned up an hour early, demanding that El Kabir is released.
Oh, Paris...
Let’s have an advert break. I’m going to get a cup of tea and some toast. What are you having?
Two slices of toast, a cup of tea, and some mouthfuls of smoked salmon later... Thank god for the pause button.
Now, this is a nice shot. That fan has been casting shadows on their faces for the whole episode. Now, here it is. (Paris is busy convincing Vassier not to let him out right now. He should get Captain Lewis, aka Jim, up to see what he has to say.)
Now, this is a nice shot. That fan has been casting shadows on their faces for the whole episode. Now, here it is. (Paris is busy convincing Vassier not to let him out right now. He should get Captain Lewis, aka Jim, up to see what he has to say.)
So Jim gets hauled on out, a little roughly.
This is a rather nice pocket watch that El Kabir has. Atheda was holding it before. I just wanted to get a cap of it. A little variation on the watch and clock shots we see so often.
Athena has scurried round to check on Barney. She’s getting impatient.
I just quite like this shot, as Barney is busy connecting all the wires.
Jim is indignant at being pulled out.
So Paris tells him about Vassier’s desire to release El Kabir immediately. Now Jim’s worried too.
While we’re taking screencaps of nice timepieces, just look at this glorious 60s clock!
Nearly there...
Jim’s trying to stall, but Vassier loses patience and sends Marak down to get El Kabir. Jim is more worried now...
Ooh, that’s a room full of tension...
Tense. Tension abounds. It’s almost five past nine... My god, look at those eyes...
Barney’s still doing his thing... Come on Barney!
El Kabir doesn’t want to go...
General startlement.
Rene’s through the hole first. Well, he’d be used to this kind of thing, being a WWII Resistance fighter and all.
Atheda comes to fetch El Kabir...
Everyone comes running downstairs... But Barney sets off a second explosion to block the hole.
This is the face of a man looking at a rock fall.
Jim, of course, knows where they’re headed.
Back in Saudi California, they head to the outside of the caves in jeeps.
So they think – but the troops are there! El Kabir starts taking potshots at them.
El Kabir wants to go and fetch the rest of the nitro-glycerine.
Poor Willy gets knocked out trying to stop them getting it. It’s hard working for the IMF.
Kabir is threatening to throw the nitro at them.
Vassier is not happy about that.
Lots of tension as Kabir threatens to throw the nitro, and they try to talk him out of it...
He throws the bottle... It arcs through the air... Everyone ducks...
It hits. It doesn’t explode. It wasn’t real.
So, everyone opens fire, and that’s the end for poor El Kabir. I liked him.
Everyone else is told to come out...
It looks to have been a bloodless execution. But poor Atheda is distraught.
They stand ready to receive the prisoners.
Poor Atheda. I mean, she was as much a ruthless terrorist as Kabir, but still...
Cunningly, Paris says he wants to take Barney and Willy for interrogation.
Jim has to do a bit of contortion to get into the jeep.
Jim asks Willy where the real nitro is. He got rid of it in the aqueduct.
Bye all! Good mission, guys. It’s a shame Paris isn’t in this final shot. It was this, or everyone’s backs.