Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Mission: Impossible S4E13 - The Amnesiac

The Amnesiac really is a corking Mission: Impossible episode. It has all the elements. A brazen and genius plot to swap a nuclear device with a dummy, lots of very nice acting from Paris/Leonard Nimoy as an amnesiac man whose face has been reconstructed after an accident in which he was supposed to have been killed, a beautiful female agent who completely pulls the wool over numerous eyes, and Jim in a masterful role as a psychiatrist who – of course – specialises in amnesia. I would like to add facts from the Mission: Impossible Dossier, but at the moment it’s in hiding. (Update: I’ve just found it, lurking in a bookshelf, of all places. It doesn’t really say anything of note, except to mention that Leonard Nimoy has a field day with the stream of consciousness memory sequence. I’d second that. He does, indeed, have a field day, and it’s wonderful.)

Well, hi, Jim. Jim’s in a snooker club, or I assume a pool hall, since we’re in America. He has to keep one foot on the floor at all times. The sign says so. No jumping, Jim.
Jim’s heard disturbing news. I couldn’t quite catch it, but it sounds like someone’s developed something that could make nuclear weapons extremely cheap, and no one wants that. The next thing we know people would be buying ‘My Little Nuclear Bomb’ at Toys Я Us and blowing up their aunties. I think the stuff is called ‘trivanium,’ which sounds like something I’d make up for a fan fiction. As we see the pictures of the chief baddies we know we’re in for something good, because we have arch-MI-villain-actors Anthony Zerbe and Steve Ihnat, along with Frank da Vinci, who apparently worked as a stand-in for Leonard Nimoy in multiple episodes of Star Trek, and I think mostly just appears here as a photograph. I think he’s supposed to be dead. I haven’t been concentrating. (Okay, I’ve had another listen. Zerbe and Ihnat’s characters, together with Otto Silff, stole a ‘sphere of trivanium’ from Jim’s people. Jim has to get it back. Simples. I think perhaps Silff is the only one who knew where it was, and he is dead. Possibly.)
We get another temporary female agent in this episode – this time it’s Monique, ably played by Julie Gregg.
Jim has his handsome open-collared look on as he picks his team, but sadly they don’t linger on his smoking at the window or poking his fire or stroking his weird varnished tortoise. It’s a shame.
We make up for Jim’s short team-picking moment with the hotness of the team during their briefing. I mean, look at this. Paris. Hands. Concentration. Hair. Good lord, draw me like one of your French girls, Paris.
Everyone is looking refined and gorgeous. Monique has a playful little white ruffle to trim her dress. Paris is suave. All good.
Have a quick look at Monique. She’s cute. Jim is telling us about the mission now, but I’m distracted by all the prettiness in the room.
Paris continues to look gorgeous, with that gorgeous hand.
Jim looks damn fine.
Barney’s looking sharp and dapper. (Willy is also looking fine, like a very well dressed brick, but he doesn’t give me a chance to cap him at this moment.)
Paris continues to look nice.
But, oh dear, Paris. Actually, don’t draw me like one of your French girls. Do – other things to me that you’d do to French girls.
Sooo. Look at this fat-bellied aircraft touching down. That’s just satisfying. Our team are arriving in Europe.
Jim is playing one of his easier characters – the solid, dependable doctor. Hes got a new technique for treating amnesia.
Monique is looking sultry and close to tears at the piano as Major Paul Johan (Steve Ihnat, otherwise known as Garth of Izar from Star Trek. He died just three years later in 1972, of a heart attack) comes in with his lady friend.
There are a lot of looks being exchanged between her and Johan...
The female companion, meanwhile, looks rather haughty. I think this is ‘Alena Ober,’ played by Lisabeth Hush.
Meanwhile, Willy is in an official building with a big metal box...
What could be in that box? Hmm... This is a cunning plan. Willy appears to be leaving with the filing cabinet, but he doesn’t have a requisition order. He’ll have to put it back...
Gasp! It’s Barney-in-a-box!
Barney is very cunningly switching the records of Otto Silff...
Meanwhile, Alena Ober is getting even more pouty, because Johan has asked the piano player to come over and join them after her set.
Enter Paris, looking pleasingly scruffy and nervous. He takes a seat at the side of the restaurant while Alena continues to be moody and grief-stricken, because, I think Otto Silff is dead. Monique is cunningly playing a song she used to dance to with him.
We don’t need to see her being moody. We need to see Paris drawing a dodgy caricature of her. Nevermind the caricature. The artist is most pleasing.
Paris continues to look pleasing as Monique comes over to talk to Johan and annoy Alena. I may be falling into gender issues by addressing Johan by his surname and Alena by her first name. Bad me.
Meanwhile, Barney is doing a little sticking and pasting with his enormous torch to light it up. He’s changing the fingerprint records of Otto Silff...
We have some lovely Latinate-Germanic Eastern European here. Nom: Otto Silff. Dat en natal: Marz 1. 1930. Sex: Mäl. Hät: 6-1. Wat: 182. Eines: Brun. Heer: Norr. Ocupät Offize Inteligenz.
I think this language should be adopted as the new Esperanto.
There’s intrigue going on at Johan’s table... Alena is intrigued by Monique’s lighter, and the fact that she knew that song which was particular to her and Silff.
And now Monique introduces Paris as ‘Stephan Denkar.’ I’m not sure how he does this – this typically understated Spock-type acting – where he does very little at all, but comes across as diffident, rather cast down, subdued.
Alena starts to look through Paris’s sketchpad and finds a rather hideous caricature that he’s drawn of her.
I’d look like that too if someone had drawn that of me.
Paris continues to puzzle and disturb her by quoting Edmund Burke at her. She ‘once had a friend who knew Edmund Burke by heart.’
So Alena takes the caricature off to Col. Alex Vorda (Anthony Zerbe), because she’s convinced of its similarity to a caricature of him by Otto Silff.
I have to say, she looks a lot better in uniform.
Vorda is not convinced. He may have his voice, his eyes, his cigarette lighter – but not his face. He will investigate, but she’s not happy.
You can tell she’s upset because she’s left the door open. If you can’t get away with slamming them, leave them open. Wide open.
Once she’s gone, a suspicious looking cigarette-smoking man wanders into Vorda’s office to talk about the case. Vorda passes her off as a ‘stupid, hysterical woman.’ Those bally women and their wandering wombs... Cigarette-man is not convinced by Vorda, though. There’s a lot of conviction and non-conviction going on right now. Cigarette-man had received some news from Switzerland that makes him think that Otto Silff may actually still exist, since someone is promising to deliver trivanium to Bern. Aha, I see. This man’s government wants the trivanium and is going to support Vorda in a coup de etat in return for it. Vorda is under pressure...
Meanwhile, Willy is delivering a new telephone directory to Vorda’s secretary when Johan comes in. Willy is pleasingly pleasing and smiley. He doesn’t look like a spy, but I wouldn’t trust the numbers in that phone book.
I think some time must have passed, because Vorda is now interviewing Monique about Stephan Denkar, who had an ‘accident’ about two years ago. Hmm... Could be – could he possibly be – Otto Silff? She tells a tale of how she met him in the hospital, when his face had been terribly injured by a fire, and he still won’t talk about what happened.
Aha. Monique remembers the name of a Dr Wissert, who treated him at that time. Vorda asks the secretary to contact him. She reaches for the new telephone directory... Cunning.
They’ve got what they want from her – for now. I’m capping this almost entirely because I like Anthony Zerbe and Steve Ihnat, and I want to get an image of them both from this scene. So, they’re going to bring Stephan Denkar in for questioning...
Vorda calls Dr Wissert, who is actually Barney, who breaks medical confidentiality without a qualm to talk all about Denkar.
Now we get to the nitty-gritty. ‘Stephan’ is in for questioning, looking pretty.
They ask him if he is in fact Otto Silff. He is indignant. Indignant, and rather pretty.
They’ve just had a goon go to check his fingerprints against Silff’s in the record. Of course, they match, thanks to Barney.
Paris does a credible job – Leonard Nimoy does a credible job – of being confused and vulnerable when they tell him that he has Silff’s fingerprints.
He’s nervous and worried, wondering what Silff may have done – because he remembers nothing from before he woke in the hospital two years ago.
This is just a slightly gratuitous extra shot because he does worried and nervous so well.
Meanwhile, Barney and Willy are playing with a big silver-painted sphere... Methinks they are making mock-trivanium.
Vorda is getting more impatient with Silff/Denkar. I think this scene may yield quite a few screencaps. I won’t apologise.
Vorda is so impatient he picks Silff up by his jacket and starts shaking him.
You can really see the ‘scarring’ applied to Silff/Denkar/Paris’s skin here.
I assume it’s something that contracts on the skin. It’s really rather good.
Paris is still playing the vulnerable, scared Silff to perfection.
I’m sorry, I could just screencap this forever. Except no, I’m not sorry. I said I wouldn’t apologise.
Vorda throws him back into his chair as cigarette guy finds a card for ‘Dr Anton Lumin, M.D., Ph.D.’ in Silff’s things.
Silff is all hot and bothered and promising that if he knew where the trivanium was, he would tell them.
So, Johan escorts him out, his elbow-patched jacket all in disarray, bits of chest showing... Mmm... Meanwhile Vorda and cigarette man discuss the discovery of Lumin’s card (the amnesia doctor the Jim is playing) and the fact that Silff has an appointment with him.
So, having just had the heady pleasure of an office full of Paris, they pull Jim in to have a chat with him. Dear god. The room must be swimming in testosterone by now.
Jim, as Lumin, tells them that Denkar, aka Silff, has a brain tumour, and his technique could seriously injure him. Of course Vorda cares little for that.
When Vorda tells him he must restore Denkar/Silff’s memory within 24 hours it has the effect of making Jim look very pretty.
As he protests that it’s impossible he continues to look pretty.
I have to give Vorda the courtesy of a screencap here because I like him so much. He’s essentially blackmailing ‘Lumin’ by threatening to end his career if he doesn’t help them.
63. Jim has his worried look on...
Jim has his worried look on...
I need to do a cap of cigarette-man here because his expression is just so brilliant.
So, Monique comes into her dressing room at the club, to be confronted by Silff’s lighter...
...and it’s in Johan’s hand... Johan is suspicious. The lighter is an anachronism. Could it be a fake?
It’s one of those wonderful, tense Mission: Impossible moments when everything seems to be about to fall apart. Of course usually Jim has planned it all so well that this is just part of it – but you never can be quite sure... After an advert break, Monique tells him that the lighter was all part of the plan. It has smoked him out.
Meanwhile, Barney is listening to the conversation between Monique and Johan. He looks happy. Presumably this was all part of the plan. Of course it was. It’s Jim’s plan.
Monique is sowing the seeds of doubt in Johan’s mind, telling him that Silff had some kind of plan to make a million dollars with a partner of his – and that Johan was that partner. To be honest I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, but then I never am sure.
While this is going on, Jim has set up a mobile disco...
...and Paris/Silff/Denkar is facing the lights, in a ruffled-hair, open-collared, under duress, chest-hair scene that will probably need intensive screencapping.
Vorda and cigarette-man looked amused and bemused by the whole thing.
Silff is leaning against some kind of standing chair contraption, and hooked up to a drip.
He’s reliving some kind of childhood memories.
Oh my god, look at that thumb. I mean, we like his hands. We know that. But look at that thumb in isolation. How glorious.
Jim continues to do his disco thing, standing against the lights.
Paris is giggling in glee about his tenth birthday tomorrow. It’s quite sweet, in a weird way.
Isn’t this rather adorable?
I feel like I should be saying cutting things about this, but he’s just so happy it’s lovely to see.
It’s just sweet. No scathing comments.
When he starts singing, ‘la-la-la-la-la,’ cigarette-man is speechless, while Vorda just facepalms in a major way.
Oh, but there is a change coming over him. The singing fades away.
He starts talking about someone who is always waiting in the shadows...
He gets more agitated, and hides behind the chair, so that Jim has to go to him. He’s crying for his mama...
He’s crying, begging his mama not to let the man kill him...
Poor little Otto...
So Jim turns the lights off and retracts them. ‘What do you want, Colonel, the trivanium or a corpse?’ he asks when Vorda objects.
I do like it when Jim stands like that with his hand up at his side.
I’ve just noticed that cigarette-man has a tiny, tiny rose on his lapel. Is this some kind of fashion understatement?
Silff is leaning against the chair contraption, eyes closed, rocking and humming, and doing a very good impression of being unhinged. Jim is trying to impress on Vorda that if he goes too fast he’ll kill him.
Johan comes in, fresh from his discussion with Monique...
Oh dear, Silff doesn’t like the look of him.
He doesn’t like him at all.
Not at all at all.
There are intrigued reaction shots from Vorda, Johan, and cigarette-man, but looking at Paris is nicer.
Silff looks consternated, and has a nice thumb again.
The phones rings. It’s Monique, for Johan, saying she must see him immediately, or she will talk to Col. Vorda instead.
Jim is busy ‘comforting’ Silff when Johan excuses himself and leaves.
Perhaps this look that Paris exchanges with Silff isn’t quite so subtle.
Oh, that expression... Paris/Silff has the look of a bullied child. Jim has the look of a parent who will find those bullies and teach them a lesson.
So, Johan is back with Monique...
...and Willy has accidentally fallen chin first onto some glue and then onto a beaver. He saunters into the bar and orders whiskey, perhaps to use as a solvent to remove the hair. Johan tells Monique surreptitiously that the weird bearded man has followed him here. (I have to point out that Monique is going by a different name to Johan. I can’t remember it though.)
Monique points out another man – one of Jim’s or just a man in the bar? – who she says has been following her all day. I hope he’s only going to make a brief appearance because I’ve already got one cigarette-man in this. Maybe he can be alcohol-man? Johan thinks they might be Vorda’s men.
Back at headquarters, Jim is still interrogating Paris, as Denkar, as Silff. He’s looking tired and worse for wear. I mean, Paris is, not Jim. Jim is still doing his disco-chic thing with the light rack.
All of a sudden I had a kind of epiphany – a feeling of the incredible moment when Peter Graves and Leonard Nimoy were standing so close to one another and the hotness gauge for the universe went right off the scale. Imagine inserting yourself between these two? Just imagine.
Hands. Hair. Oh god. Will we ever learn to stop missing him? How does the world continue, oblivious to the fact that he’s no longer in it?
Paris (sorry, Denkar/Silff) asks in a sobbing voice to see Erika. That’s it. That’s the cover that Monique is using. Cigarette-man’s expression is expressive. Neither he nor Vorda are willing to allow that.
Oh, my god...
I feel like I’m slightly neglecting Jim in these caps, but the truth is he doesn’t look as perfect as he could against the lights. Turn them off, please, Jim.
Thank you, Jim.
Oh lord.
Cigarette-man agrees finally that perhaps Erika should be brought in, when Jim appeals to them...
Paris is listening attentively/prettily.
Barney is listening in on Monique and Johan again, as Monique (Erika, you know) urges Johan that he should get out while he can, since they’re being followed by Vorda’s men. Monique cunningly tells him that it’s a pity that Silff can’t remember where the trivanium is, because if he did remember in time, ‘they wouldn’t have to know about you.’
While this is going on, Monique gets a phone call from Vorda, asking her to come in to see Silff. She tells Johan that’s it, she’s leaving, because she’s sure it’s just a trap to get her in.
Johan is finally hooked. How about if Silff does remember where the trivanium is? he suggests. How about if Monique tells him? She can whisper it to him. Silff will do it – to save her life.
God I love this man. How horribly, horribly unfair that he was to die so soon after this episode.
Finally, the team have what they want. ‘Tell him to say that the trivanium is hidden in the Fourth Army Chemical Warfare Compound, Warehouse D, crate number 144,’ Johan says. Barney jots it all down. Bingo. They have it.
So, Barney’s off to do his thing. He hops into a big army truck, and off they go.
Paris, meanwhile...
‘You have exactly one minute,’ Vorda tells Monique when she arrives.
Monique starts exchange code phrases with Paris. At least, I think she is. I think they were practicing this at the start of the episode.
Jim looks on, intensely, prettily.
Paris is obviously getting something from all this. Aren’t we all?
I know, this is almost identical the last cap. Not quite, though. Not quite.
Jim’s disco lights are back now that Monique has gone. Paris is sweaty.
Jim offers up a brief prayer. Actually, he doesn’t, but he looks like that’s what he’s doing.
Meanwhile, Barney’s truck is on its way in to Militik IV – Divizion Chemiko. Or it might be Paramount...
We’re treated to an extreme close-up of Paris’s hand. I could weep.
This is a slightly more flattering angle with Jim and the lights, as Jim tries to find out about the man in the shadows that is haunting Silff.
No. I’m sorry. I can’t bring myself to be really mean. Paris is starting to talk about Colonel Vorda and a refrigerated car on a train...

Oh dear.
There’s a lot of anguish going on as he ‘recalls’ the truck being stopped when they’ve passed the border, and something being put onto a truck.
I don’t think grabbing at his face did an awful lot of good for his makeup. (As Paris/Silff ‘remembers’ about the truck we see Barney’s truck backing up to Warehouse D, the current affairs mirroring the old... Monique makes her way onto the compound too, with false ID.)
Paris is still being sweaty and freaked out and gorgeous, and talking about how he’s been betrayed, and he has to follow ‘him.’
The truck is turned away from the warehouse (as, I assume, it was expected to be). But before it can leave a jeep has an arranged accident with Monique in her car.
Meanwhile, Barney has sneaked out of the truck at Warehouse D? This is kind of confusing. I think there’s a truck and a jeep, but I don’t know where the jeep came from. I got very muddled for a minute. But anyway, while the guards who tried to turn the truck away run to the accident, Barney jumps out of the truck and into the warehouse.
Monique is ‘pinned’ into the car. This must have taken some arranging. Her tights are still immaculate though.
Shh! (It’s a good thing Barney isn’t in the IMF nowadays. He would have been shot by a gum-chewing southern cop as he ran away by now.)
Monique, with her wide eyes and her soft voice, makes sure that the armed guard doesn’t leave her as the truck driver – one of her men, we assume – runs back to the truck for tools.
Paris is still doing his memory thang...
‘Warehouse D...’ ‘I mustn’t let him see me...’
When Vorda jumps in to ask Silff who it is Jim turns round to order him to be quiet, so we can take a cap of them both looking pretty together.
While Monique is distracting the guard no one notices the forklift truck with the massive silver and red Christmas tree bauble on it being driven out of the truck and into the warehouse.
This has to be one of the IMF’s more brazen moments. It really does.
Can there really be an excuse for more caps of Paris being sweaty and open-collared? There’s an excuse there. This is where he identifies Paul Johan as the man in the shadows, the man who took the trivanium.
Vorda can’t contain himself any longer, and rushes in to shake the location out of Silff.
With a final shake, Vorda is off to the phone.
Silff’ is starting to relive the accident, where Johan ran him off the road. Jim tries to calm him.
‘Careful! Look out for the cliff!’
Jim has to resort to hugging him. Oh.
Vorda looks like he’s had enough of an insane man screaming while he tries to make phone calls.
He’s calling Johan, to tell him that Silff remembered the location, and to meet him there.
I like the way they’ve cunningly altered the paint on the road so it doesn’t say ‘STOP.’
One of our guys sneaks into a phone box. Perhaps he’s Beige Superman, the hero of the impending 70s (really impending – this aired on the 28th December, 1969.)
Barney is looking sexy with a crowbar as he opens up the crate with the trivanium in it.
Back at Vorda’s place, Jim tells Vorda that Silff is in critical condition. ‘Well, get rid of him,’ Vorda says without concern.
A little nod passes between them when Vorda and Cigarette-man have left. Job done. Good work, Paris.
The spheres are being swapped... This is tense and drawn out...
Our guy is still in the phone booth. Still beige-Kent. I don’t know why he’s there, but he’s keeping a good look-out.
Actually, a moment later Vorda’s car arrives, and when it does he presses a button which sets off a little alarm on the forklift, so Barney’s crew know Vorda is coming. Cunning.

Most. Brazen. Switch. Ever. The guard is still focussed on Monique, who is still trapped in her car, and so they manage to get the real trivanium out into the truck in broad daylight. The guard doesn’t notice the sound of the truck jiggling or of the huge metal garage door shutting.
Suddenly Monique is free. Her boots aren’t even damaged. This nice black car is going to take her to the hospital because the ambulance is delayed. What do we pay taxes for anyway, huh?
Barney has a cobweb machine. Isn’t this awesome? It’s like candy floss only for spiders. I love these odd little fourth wall moments when we see what are presumably pieces of Paramount set decorating equipment, but being used within the episode and in front of the camera.
Barney also has a dust making machine. Nice. Meanwhile the truck with the real trivanium in it is on its way out.
Hurry up, Barney! Vorda has arrived!
He’s just applying the finishing touches as Vorda and Cigarette-man come in.
Is this what a studio looks like with nothing in it? Or do they have huge warehouse sets? Someone enlighten me.
Barney is on his way out. I suppose he’s left his dust and cobweb machines behind. What’s all that smoke on the left?
Aha, there it is – as they think, at least.
A guy who probably isn’t actually Greg Morris leaps from the top of some packing cases into the back of the moving truck...
Meanwhile, Johan has arrived. Cigarette-man tells him rather grimly that Colonel Vorda is waiting inside.
So Johan goes into the warehouse and up to the open crate... Vorda speaks to him in that lovely sinister way he has. Johan has the look of a man who knows he’s about to be shot.
This is a handy hint.
In a rather wonderful moment we hear the shot from outside, and the guard prepares to rush in, but Cigarette-man gets out a cigarette (of course) and just asks calmly, ‘Guard. Do you have a match?’ Beautiful. So Mission: Impossible.
Meanwhile, in a small Bavarian village...
That’s Monique into the lorry.
And there’s Paris.
Up goes Jim.
And we’re off, round the corner past a 60s shop front and a brownstone. Goodbye, all. What a lovely time we’ve had with you today.

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