Episode 07 – "The Trap"

"Ten of the world’s top Air Chiefs gathered into one place. It’d be a major disaster if the meeting were sabotaged…"

"We will continue to strike when and where you least expect it," the Mysterons claim. Strange that, as every episode up till this point has had them telling all and sundry exactly what they’re going to do in a few hour’s time, so "we shall continue" is a bit of a laugh. However, this week, for some inexplicable reason, instead of going on to state that "We will assassinate such-and-such," as they normally do they decide to give Spectrum a threat wrapped up in a metaphor (?): "At the appointed hour, as the clock is chiming, the wings of the world will be clipped!"

Poetic? Or just plain vague? Certainly too vague for Colonel White, who only catches on to its meaning 16 minutes into the episode – during which time he’s been administrating security for an Air Force Conference. A conference for people who fly a lot of planes. Sigh.

Commodore Goddard and his pilot crash when their plane is struck by lightning and die in the explosion – but their Mysteron doubles continue to their destination; a meeting at Cloudbase to alter preparations for a conference to which some of the most important Air Chiefs in the world will be attending. The conference is now to be held at the remote Glen Garry Castle and despite Spectrum providing the security it seems that the delegates are in very real danger of assassination. Their fates appear sealed when even Captain Scarlet is captured and locked up before he can report the Mysteron plan to Colonel White, and, with an armed Mysteron agent concealed in the conference room, the appointed hour to the deaths of the delegates approaches ever rapidly…

One new and rather farcical ability discovered here: Mysteron agents can apparently mimic the voices of anybody else in the world absolutely perfectly, seen when the Commodore duplicate calls Colonel White to tell him, in Scarlet’s voice, that security at the castle is fine. Gosh. How nefarious.

And aside from that rather convenient ability, there’s a few other screwy plot-related things going on with this episode. For one thing: the Mysterons want to kill off all the Air Chiefs in one fell swoop. So why spend time dragging them out to a lonely, deserted spot to assassinate them when you could just mentally affect the single helicopter that they’re all travelling in and force it to crash and explode like we know you’re fully capable of doing. Meh. I suppose that’d just be too easy.

However, here’s a thing I just don’t get. Last week the Mysterons were trying to assassinate Colonel White with first a kamikaze satellite and then by trying to shoot him onboard a submarine. They failed. This week they duplicate the high ranking Commodore who then successfully lands on Cloudbase for a meeting with the Colonel and its two leading officers. Think about it. The Mysterons have successfully infiltrated the base of their most hated foes, and therefore probably have everybody on it at their mercy. And what do they do? Have a chat about Scotland.

Scarlet gets shot, staggers out of the castle to the SPV, chats with Captain Blue, jetpacks up to the castle battlements, engages in a firefight with Goddard, gets shot again, and finally gets himself blown up when he orders Captain Blue to fire rockets at the castle. And he’s absolutely fine in the debriefing scene a few seconds later. What a guy.

Melody Angel’s escort duties go for a Burton when the plane she’s supposed to be escorting is hit by lightning and explodes into fragments. Still, wasn’t really her fault, though she doesn’t actually see the explosion due to the poor weather conditions. The fact that the Colonel later jeopardises the lives of the delegates by putting their safety into the hands of a probable Mysteron agent is a bit of a black mark, though.

Scarlet saves the delegates. Yay!

Spectrum: 5 Mysterons: 2

 

SYMPHONY: "Well there’s no time for an inquest just now. The Commodore’s gone straight to discuss the International Air Conference with Colonel White!"

Exposition! How we’ve missed thee!

__

SCARLET: "What’s that over there?"

MORTON (caretaker): "The last owners had that filled in, sir. There used to be a staircase leading up to the battlements." Pause. "Nobody goes up there now…"

Gosh, I wonder if this will be at all relevant to the episode’s conclusion? What do you think, boys and girls?

The more lewd amongst you might want to smirk at the rather shocking kinky bondage shenanigans going on in this episode, first with Scarlet being tied to a chair with his mouth taped (see above) and then getting chained up with Symphony Angel in the castle’s dungeon. I of course am far above this level of humour. Naturally. And, actually, whilst I’m on the subject, why is it that whenever somebody is tied up by the villains in a film or TV show or whatever they’re always seen struggling furiously against their bonds whilst their captors are standing a few feet away and taunting them? What’s the point? If they were to suddenly get themselves free there and then they’d just be tied up again.

MORTON: "But I still can’t understand how [Scarlet] escaped unhurt."

SCARLET: "I guess I’m… indestructible."

The quip receives the deadening silence that it quite rightly deserves. Colonel White’s "Er, yes, well, I’m sure Mr Morton won’t swallow that," only goes some way to making reparations.

No Colonel speech. In fact, the "joke" above nearly ends the episode. Unfortunately, it’s followed by an exchange further ruined by some horribly misjudged line reading from Francis Matthews:

MORTON: "It’s all right, Colonel, I can take a joke!"

SCARLET: (In an absurdly creepy way) "I’m sure you can, Mr Morton… I’m sure you can…"

… which, to compound the uncomfortable moment, culminates in a three second silence before the episode (thankfully) ends just to really make you scared of the leading hero. I have a theory that he personally clubbed poor Morton to death as soon as the fade to black occurred. Arghhhh!!!

Says Commodore Goddard on Cloudbase: "Gentlemen, I guess you all know why I asked for this meeting."

I should bloody well hope so, mate, otherwise there’s no reason at all why they’d have let you land there.

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COMMODORE: "I propose to hold the conference in the place the Mysterons would least expect it."

… And so it’s held in Scotland. Not in the middle of an Amazonian jungle or at the bottom of a mine somewhere in an obscure Chinese region, or indeed in any place the Mysterons would genuinely never suspect an Air Conference to be held. Because, like, what crazy bastard lives up in Scotland? Pah! I know the Commodore is now a Mysteron and so would know precisely where everybody was going anyway, but Spectrum doesn’t know that - how come the Colonel or Scarlet fail to question his frankly ludicrous apparent reasoning?

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SCARLET: "We’ll maintain maximum security throughout the conference."

We? Maximum security? You’re the only agent out there! What are you on about?

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EVIL COMMODORE: "You will see now why I wanted to hold the conference here…"

What, so you could stick a machine gun turret behind a painting? A) Remote Scottish castles aren’t the only places with big paintings and B) There are far easier ways to kill off large groups of people in a less haphazard way. Blowing up their helicopter before they arrive, for example.

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SCARLET: "Fire the SPV rockets as soon as the helicopter is clear."

BLUE: "But, Captain, you’ll be killed!"

Must you say that every episode, Blue? He’s indestructible. Haven’t you got that yet? Indestructible. Arse!

___

And a round of applause, please, for that old classic: "You’ll never get away with it!"

Both Melody and Symphony Angel are out on security duties throughout this episode, the latter getting captured by the Mysterons (again). But aside from Scarlet and Blue none of the other Captains gets a look in. In fact the security of the conference appears to consist of two people. Sigh.

Actually, they don’t manage to kill anybody. They were probably about to kill Commodore Goddard at the beginning of the episode but there’s no reason to suppose that the lightning strike was actually their doing.

Spectrum doesn’t lose anything aside from the cost of a single jetpack, though they do blow up the entire castle. Still, nobody seems to mind.

No car crashes here. No cliffs, either.

One small explosion and four satisfyingly large ones, first when the plane is destroyed and later when Glen Garry suffers a similar fate.

No first name terms…

… and no happy Colonel, either.

In case you haven’t worked it out by now, gentle reader, this episode is set in Scotland. This of course means a scene-setting shot of a castle accompanied with some vaguely Scottish tunes tootled out on some pipes, and a bloke with an absolutely atrocious accent.

Symphony’s suffering a bit of a fashion disaster this episode, wearing a whacking great blue tie that splays over her chest and, furthermore, oddly doesn’t appear to have a knot. Spooky.

When Morton, the chap who looks after the castle, exits at the end of his first scene there’s a long and strangely sinister music cue as if we’re meant to be really suspicious of him. This doesn’t quite come off given that he’s just been talking to Scarlet and the guy we’ve seen being duplicated by the Mysterons earlier on, so we already know who the bad guy is…

The Colonel sends Melody Angel out to fly around and try to locate any possible wreckage of the XQR plane from the beginning of the episode, just in case she was right about it being hit by lightning, saying that "we can’t take any risks." You can’t? I’d say sending all the Conference delegates out to a lonely castle to rendezvous with a man you highly suspect of being a Mysteron agent is a bloody big risk. Or just plain stupid. I’m going with the latter, actually, as it turns out at the end of the scene that the Colonel doesn’t suspect the Commodore of being a Mysteron at all, saying, "I hope the Commodore knows what he’s doing." Since you’re obviously investing loads of trust into him, why on Earth have you sent Melody Angel out to try and find a crashed plane that you don’t even reckon exists? Make up your mind, man!

Amusingly, the Mysterons are planning to assassinate the delegates by concealing an agent with a machine gun behind a large painting of a very camp man. Also notable is the fact that the painting for some reason slides up out of its frame when the arm of a suit of armour standing nearby is pressed, revealing the agent behind it (though why Scarlet automatically goes to touch the arm – thereby finding this nugget of info out – is anybody’s guess; foresight?). Supposing any one of the delegates were to do the same before the conference? That’d scupper the plan, wouldn’t it? Though the bit where Scarlet shoots at the agent, who then throws himself through the painting, is rather effective.

The helicopter which is meant to hold at least twenty seats in it for the delegates when it cuts to the interior is represented by an absurdly small model; the cockpit which only Symphony is sitting in appears to take up two thirds of its length.

Captain Blue picks up an SPV from a bloke who sports a Roger Delgado beard, who keeps the vehicle behind a large beverage advertisement. Where Blue got his red Spectrum saloon car – which he drives to the SPV pick-up - remains something of a mystery, however.

Contrary to me saying that the Scarlet "death head" was only used in episode 1, it – or a head that looks similar to it – is used at the end of this episode when Scarlet is riddled with bullets from a machine gun outpost. Well, you’d probably grimace too in his position.

The end credits here feature the first use of the "Spectrum" closing song as opposed to the standard straight closing themetune used up till this point. I’m not sure if this was the first episode on transmission to use it, but it’s the first in the DVD order to. Quite a jaunty little number, not heard regularly until towards the end of the series. "Though the Mysterons plan to conquer the Earrrrrrrrrrrrth… this in-des-truct-i-ble man - will - show what he’s worrrrrrrrrrrrth!… Captain Scarlet!" Bliss.

And, finally, a few questions:

One of the bedrooms in Glen Garry has a portcullis. Aside from its plot function to capture Symphony Angel – why???

Isn’t firing three rockets and demolishing an entire castle – destroying part of Scotland’s heritage and history – to take out a single Mysteron agent a bit… overkill?

Why the Hell is Morton, the caretaker, taken back to Cloudbase for a chat with the Colonel at the end of the episode? Who is he anyway?

And why do the Mysterons call Scarlet "Earth man"? He’s a Mysteron duplicate – and they ought to know!

Another average episode which, despite its interesting location, is given a rather silly Mysteron plot and a rather listless pace. Not great but not bad either.

 

Our castle, ladies and gents.

Melody Angel surveys Scotland for kilts and large red hedges.

Do you ever get the feeling… oh, you do? Righty ho then.

Um, nice tie, Symph. * smirk *

… Well I think we should just leave well alone. Don’t you?