Episode One - "The Mysterons"

"The finger is on the trigger, about to unleash a force with terrible powers beyond the comprehension of man! This force we shall know as… the Mysterons."

Captain Ochre is the only regular who isn’t seen in this episode at all, not even in a non-speaking capacity, unlike, for instance, Doctor Fawn, who gets to wear two costumes but doesn’t say anything during his brief cameo. However, a New York Spectrum agent calling in to Cloudbase via radio has a voice that resembles the one later given to Captain Ochre when he does make an appearance in the series.

Originally: "The first of the Earth space travellers have arrived. They too have a curiosity about the Universe we live in. We must welcome them." A few explosions later, their aim is to achieve "the ultimate destruction of life on Earth!" Which seems a bit of an overreaction, to me. Especially as nothing was destroyed anyway.

That speech in full: "Earthmen, we are peaceful beings – and you have tried to destroy us. But you cannot succeed. You and your people will pay for this act of aggression! This is the voice of the Mysterons. We know that you can hear us, Earthmen. Our retaliation will be slow – but nonetheless effective. It will mean the ultimate destruction of life on Earth. It will be useless for you to resist for we have discovered the secret of reversing matter as you have just witnessed. One of you will be under our control. You will be instrumental in avenging the Mysterons. Our first act of retaliation will be to assassinate your World President!"

The chap under control is of course Captain Black, who we do get to see as an ordinary Spectrum officer for a few minutes before his skin inexplicably changes pigment and he develops lots of manly stubble.

The Zero-X mission to Mars, lead by Captain Black of Spectrum, discovers an alien city and, mistaking the alien surveillance equipment for weapons turrets, opens fire on it. The city rebuilds itself before their eyes as a voice tells them that it belongs to the Mysterons, who will be avenged for Earth’s act of aggression. The first attempt on the World President’s life comes when the Mysterons destroy a Spectrum saloon car containing Captain Brown and Captain Scarlet, and create duplicates of both. The Mysteron Captain Brown escorts the President to a Spectrum maximum-security building and explodes. However, the President manages to eject himself seconds before the explosion and later winds up on Cloudbase – where his life is to be placed into the hands of the Mysteron Captain Scarlet…

They rebuild their city. Captain Black’s body becomes inhabited by the Mysterons, and is used as an agent throughout the rest of the series. Their influence (represented by a weird purple negative effect in this episode alone) causes Captain Scarlet’s car to crash. Captains Scarlet and Brown are copied and made into Mysterons (it would also seem that the personality and memories of the original are retained – see "Additional Notes"). The Captain Brown duplicate becomes a walking bomb that manages to obliterate an entire building. The Mysterons can also duplicate vehicles, as seen when a Spectrum helicopter appears under Mysteron influence; the helicopter is seen to pilot itself without any visible force operating the controls.

The real Scarlet dies seven minutes into episode 1 of his own show when his car crashes. His Mysteron double doesn’t fair too well later on either as he gets shot and falls off the London Car Vu (a bizarre structure for parking cars on; see pictures) to his demise eight hundred feet below.

Colonel White had no way of knowing that Captain Scarlet was a Mysteron double so I suppose we can’t blame him for allowing Scarlet to become the President’s escort. It’s also phenomenally bad luck when the Mysteron helicopter that Destiny Angel shoots down happens to plummet straight into the Car Vu, destroying its central structure and throwing the President’s life into even more danger as he dangles from a railing above an 800 foot drop. However, we can raise our eyebrows at Rhapsody Angel deliberately obliterating a motorway junction on the M21 in order to divert the rogue Scarlet, which seems a trifle OTT.

Despite all the mayhem and destruction that Spectrum allows, the Mysterons do not in fact succeed in killing the President, so the score at the end of episode 1 looks like:

Spectrum: 1 Mysterons: 0

There are a number of long speeches in this one, but most come from the Mysterons themselves who do after all need to explain to Spectrum what their agenda is, so we can let that stuff go by. However, we do have the petrol-station worker from whom Captain Blue gets a Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle, who says, "I see you have expert ratings on SPVs. It must be tricky facing backwards and driving by TV monitor." How nice of him to tell Captain Blue that. Assuming of course that Captain Blue has never driven an SPV before. Which he has.

None, actually. Even given my dirty mind this episode is free of anything that could even be tenuously misconstrued.

None. This is a very grim episode, all told.

"It would seem that this Captain Scarlet is now indestructible. This presents us with a clear and exciting expectation that he will become our greatest asset in the fight against the Mysterons!"

"And the Spectrum Angels are overflying the area," says Captain Brown. Our suave World President sees fit to reply with, "‘Angels’ is the right word for that team!" Groan.

"I hope you play a good game of three-dimensional chess, Captain." "I play a very good game, sir," replies Brown in an absurdly sinister "I’m going to kill you" way.

"Well I can see I have nothing to fear when I’m in the hands of the Spectrum Organisation!" says the President, chirpily, shortly before the entire building blows up.

"There has been an explosion in Spectrum maximum security building," reports Destiny Angel in a strangely underwhelmed manner. It’s also a bit of an understatement given that the entire building has been raised to the ground and is now nothing more than a pile of twisted metal. Colonel White continues this bizarre fit of litotes later by reflecting afterwards, "Since the Zero-X mission to Mars there have been a number of peculiar happenings." The destruction of a building and its staff could be called many things, but "peculiar" wouldn’t immediately leap to my tongue.

"It is now our intention to move you to a new place of maximum security," says Colonel White without a trace of irony. "But before we do so, let’s take a look at what really happened," he then says to both the audience at home and to the rather bemused President, who needs an explanation for how he managed to save himself.

New boy and happy chappy Captain Brown is out on his first big assignment. "I wish you luck," says Captain Scarlet with all the warmth and sincerity of a man telling his gran that he really likes chequered sweaters. He needn’t have worried, however, as the car explodes about forty seconds later, killing them both.

Captain Black is turned into a Mysteron so arguably dies. We also don’t see what happens to the other two in the space probe so we can assume they’re dead too. Captains Brown and Scarlet are of course killed as part of the Mysteron plot.

Though the President escapes the security building we can only assume that everybody else in it – guards, general auxiliary staff and all – were completely massacred. Fortunately, "The pictures from the concealed camera in your suite were taken in another building, so luckily they’re safe." Well that’s all right then.

1 x Spectrum saloon car

1 x Spectrum helicopter

1 x Spectrum maximum-security building and staff

Captain Scarlet also abandons a Spectrum passenger jet in a field and we don’t see anybody going back to reclaim it, so…

Our very first episode has Captain Scarlet’s car winging itself off a handy-dandy cliff edge. The wreckage is discovered later on along with Captain Brown’s body, but for some reason Captain Scarlet’s is nowhere to be found.

Eight satisfying explosions, and two piffling ones (first when the helicopter is shot, and a quick burst of flame at the end of the Car Vu scene)

Nobody’s on first name terms here.

The miserable bugger remains po-faced throughout.

Destiny Angel is the first character to use the "Spectrum is Green!" call sign. She is also the first person to use the "SIG!" abbreviation, when asked to lead a dummy attack on Captain Scarlet’s plane.

This is the only episode in which Captain Black wears his Spectrum uniform.

Though most of the characters only had one marionette head each – aside from Colonel White – this episode sees the only appearance of a different head for Captain Scarlet, used in a single shot when Scarlet is shot and falls to his death (see pictures).

For reasons that are never actually explained, the Captain Scarlet duplicate can rebuild and resurrect itself, despite other Mysteron agents later seen in the series being killed off quite easily and conventionally (gunfire, explosions etc.) The fall from the Car Vu also seems to have freed him from the control of the Mysterons, and so the Captain Scarlet we see for the rest of the series is in fact a duplicate, albeit one firmly loyal to Spectrum.

When I first saw this episode as a young’un it completely threw me. I didn’t have a clue what was going on what with all the duplicates and the title character being a baddy and everything. In fact it put me off the series and I never watched it until a friend of mine bought the volume 1 DVD a couple of years ago. We sat down to watch it and ended up being thoroughly entertained, and as a result I now own the complete series. Episode 1 has a good pace and sets up most of the elements of the series quite well looking at it with older eyes. However, the fact that it took me something like nine years before I could even understand it means it drops a star. Unless of course I’m simply dense.


The Mysteron City

Captain Brown has a smoke (a ha ha ha…)

The frankly unfeasible London Car Vu

The scary Scarlet "death head"

Captain Black becomes a Mysteron