EPISODE 16 – "TRAITOR"
"This time the traitor is with us – isn’t he, CAPTAIN SCARLET?!"
Harmony and Melody Angels have brief cameos and Captain Black also appears courtesy of a flashback.
A bit of a weak threat this week, mainly due to the phrasing of the second sentence: "The Spectrum organisation will be torn apart from within. The traitor among you will create havoc and destroy morale!"
Colonel White’s immediate panic reaction? "We must not allow this to create suspicion among ourselves or to lower morale!" Well thanks for that insightful advice, Colonel.
I think a work’s outing is what’s called for myself…
At Spectrum’s Australian outpost, Koala Base, land hovercrafts have been mysteriously losing control and destroying themselves, causing the personnel to question whether or not there is a traitor within the base. This explanation is given credence due to the Mysteron threat and Colonel White dispatches Captains Scarlet and Blue out to Koala Base to investigate the cause of the sabotage. Suspicion is immediately pointed at Captain Scarlet following a lecture during which Captain Blue relates the "Captain Scarlet kidnapped the World President back in episode 1," anecdote (for no better reason than because… well… somebody asked him about it) and a fire is started in Scarlet and Blue’s bedroom, from which they only narrowly escape. The base commander, Major Stone, decides that the only way to bring the traitor out into the open is to commence another hovercraft exercise, this time with Scarlet and Blue onboard with the two men who piloted the craft during the previous disaster, Johnson and Machan – the latter of whom suspects Scarlet to be the traitor to the point of fanaticism…
The Mysterons never actually appear during the course of the episode, though at the conclusion it’s discovered that the "traitor" was a batch of faulty hydraulic valves in the hovercrafts’ engines. Colonel White would far rather believe this to be the work of the Mysterons and their compound-altering abilities than admit to incompetence somewhere within the organisation. Obviously our Colonel has had run-ins with the unions at some point in the past.
Scarlet manages to leap from the hovercraft to safety with its black box just before the whole thing explodes.
Spectrum itself seems fairly competent… aside from the phenomenal stupidity of Captain Blue throughout. He seems unusually thick earlier on (see the dialogue section) but his actions at the lecture at Koala Base beggar belief. Following Colonel White insisting that morale must be kept up at all times, Captain Blue decides to relate the incident of how Captain Scarlet was in the hands of the Mysterons back at the beginning of the series, going on about the kidnapping of the World President and with heavy emphasis on how Scarlet had turned his back on his organisation and friends. Why?!? "As you can see he made an amazing recovery!" Yes, because we’re all pleased when a kidnapper and potential subversive to the stability of the world is nursed back to perfect health. Obviously. To add insult to injury he makes a complete hash of assuring people of Scarlet’s true allegiance after his story – in fact he doesn’t try to assure them at all. "But he was under the control of the Mysterons?" "For those few hours, yes…" And that’s it. He makes no move to say anything more and Major Storm suspiciously cuts the meeting short which prevents any clarification on anything at all. If I were Captain Scarlet I’d have given Blue a good kicking after the meeting had finished. And then Blue seems surprised when Machan thinks Scarlet is the traitor!!! What a prat.
The Mysteron threat was a bit nebulous – in a way it seemed that all they wanted to do was cause a bit of mischief rather than actually achieve anything important. It also occurs to me that they were cheating, as there was no traitor within Spectrum at all, so they were trying to whip up panic where there wasn’t any, the swines. However, I suppose Spectrum isn’t actually "torn apart" so the score has to be:
Spectrum: 13 Mysterons: 3
No poor expository dialogue, though Captain Blue’s recap of the Car Vu incident from episode 1 is a tad melodramatic.
BLUE: "Do you think there’s a traitor in Spectrum?"
SCARLET: "Well, a lot of strange things have been happening recently. There may well be."
BLUE: "I’d like to get my hands on him…"
Oh, er, blimey. I bet Symphony Angel would rather you didn’t, for her sake.
MAJOR: "The recruits are looking forward to your lectures."
SCARLET: "We’re always glad to help in any way we can."
BLUE: "In ANY way, Major."
Um, yes. The subtitles on the DVD even emphasis the "any" bit. Major Stone seems just as disturbed as I am, muttering "And what exactly do you mean by that?" whilst swivelling his eyes about like a man desperately looking for the exit.
One scene is quite eyebrow raising, opening on Machan staring out of his window over the Australian evening. We then cut to Johnson in his pyjamas a few feet away:
JOHNSON: "Come to bed, Phil, we’ve got a heavy schedule tomorrow…"
An intentionally gay couple? I’d like to think Captain Scarlet was attempting to push the boundaries for a 1960s kids’ show. After all, two of the top members of Spectrum are black, so why not some gay characters as well? However, I’m fairly sure it was completely unintentional – we later see that they have two single beds which rather spoils the fun – and that I’m just reading too much into the antics of puppets.
JOHNSON: "Get to bed!"
Yes, thank you, Johnson. And I have to say that Scarlet is looking at Blue in a very suggestive fashion whilst reclining on a bed later on (see piccy above).
No intentional humour this week.
WHITE: "Our entire operation relies to a great extent on mutual trust. Daily we place our lives in each other’s hands! We must not allow this trust to be broken."
Very stirring, that. We close the episode on Scarlet trying to grab the limelight away from the Colonel with the feeblest closing line yet presented to us:
WHITE: "Well, the Mysterons have shown another side of their extraordinary powers."
SCARLET: "Yes Colonel. All we can do is remain vigilant."
And for that pithy comment he gets the full close-up / dramatic music / fade-to-black treatment. Puh! If I were the Colonel I’d give him a bitch-slap. Probably.
WHITE: "As senior members of Spectrum, I can tell you I’m worried."
BLUE: "About the alleged traitor, Colonel?"
Oh for goodness sake, what else is he going to be worried about? Pencils? Tellingly, White’s reply is a very weary "Yes, Captain Blue…."
I’m sorry you have to put up with them, Colonel. Just breathe deeply. You’re doing a great job.
SCARLET: "What’ll be our cover, Colonel?"
WHITE: "Major Stone, the base commander, has not requested outside help. You’ll be there ostensibly to give a series of lectures to the new recruits."
BLUE: "But our real job is to establish if sabotage has occurred?"
Oh for – just sack the bastard. He’s only going to make things worse. Seriously, Blue’s making a bigger cock-up of things than Captain Magenta ever did.
WHITE: "A Mysteron can be found with our detector, but a traitor is an ordinary man."
"Couldn’t the traitor be an ordinary woman, sir?" "Don’t be silly, Captain Scarlet. Women are far too nice for that sort of thing..."
BLUE: "Well, let’s see… Captain Scarlet was in the hands of the Mysterons. He had hijacked the World President but his only escape route…"
And at that moment you can hear thirty heads turning slowly to look at Captain Scarlet with barely suppressed terror and loathing. Thank you, Captain Blue. Thank you so very much.
And to top off an episode of unrelenting Captain Blue idiocy, two choice lines from his flashback commentary:
BLUE: "All this time I was trying to clear my racing brain…"
BLUE: "Once more I was confused!"
You and everybody else, Blue, you and everybody else…
Captains Scarlet and Blue are the only officers sent out to investigate matters, as per usual. The Angels are also apparently encircling the perimeter but we never see them following take-off back at Cloudbase.
Though no deaths are seen during the course of the episode, we learn that earlier hovercraft accidents did claim lives of several men, which would be attributable to the Mysterons if they really were behind it all.
2 x hovercrafts are destroyed during this episode. A few more were written-off earlier on and Machan gleefully points out the wreckage of one of them to Scarlet as they zip by in their hovercraft.
No cliffs. Bah!
The episode itself has two large explosions and the repeated footage from episode 1 gives us two more large ones and a smaller one. We also get to rewitness that wonderful bit where Destiny Angel shot down a Mysteron helicopter into a collision course with the London Car Vu platform, throwing the World President’s life into even greater jeopardy than it already was…
During the fire: "Adam, wake up!" Desperate measures cause for desperate forename usage.
Colonel White leaves his desk for once to go and chat to Scarlet and Blue in the mess hall, which must make him feel happy deep down. He’s even happier when he realises that there’s no traitor within Spectrum. Yay!
The episode opens with a hovercraft crashing and blowing up. A few scenes later, Johnson and Machan remark, "We were lucky to come out of it alive." Bloody lucky, I’d say, given that they were still clearly sitting in it with their seatbelts on when the thing exploded.
Major Stone refers to himself as "Cadet Leader" a few times, which is unintentionally mirth inducing.
There’s some sloppy voice work here, with Johnson once replying to one of the Major’s questions in Machin’s voice. And French Destiny Angel sounds far more like Chelsea girl Rhapsody Angel prior to take-off.
As already mentioned, this episode takes time out to bombard us with repeated footage from the first episode, comprising most of the events at the London Car Vu (including a sequence with Captain Black that Blue couldn’t possibly have known about). If that wasn’t enough it’s made very obvious that this episode was underrunning when we get the full Angel launch sequence of stock footage.
Despite the fact that the accidents had been happening for a while before Scarlet’s arrival at the base, Machan’s suspicions of him are still fairly sound thanks to Captain Blue’s story if one takes general paranoia into account – lots of accidents happening, known Mysteron turns up, what’s the conclusion? It’s certainly a better theory than that hatched by Captain Blue, who on a complete whim bizarrely suspects Major Stone of sabotaging his own base. Really, why did Blue bother to turn up? Just why?
Strangely, we never do learn who started the fire in Scarlet’s room. Machan is the most likely suspect as he’s gone for a walk in the immediately previous scene, but it’s never actually clarified. Scarlet even asks White at the end what all that was about and the Colonel just shrugs and admits that he hasn’t got a clue.
Not a very thrilling episode thanks mainly to the five-minute episode 1 interlude in the middle. The story either side of it attempts to drum up some suspense and mystery but doesn’t come close to managing it. Captain Blue being wildly out of character for no given reason is also faintly frustrating and the lack of confirmed explanations at the end gives the impression that the writer didn’t really know what it was all about himself.
Oh, and as an extra, Kinggodzillak put together a mock trailer for this episode in the style of the Doctor Who New Series "next time" trailers, which can be found here…
… unless of course it can’t, in which case it won’t be there. Mmm. Still, give it a try anyway. It’s rather good.
Special effects! Cor!
"Darling, come over here…" Bow chicka-chicka bow-bowwww…
We haven’t had a picture of Lieutenant Green for a while. So here’s one now.
Captain Blue hides from both shameless stock footage and from his audience. "I’m so, so sorry…" he was heard to report. But look at him, look at his smug smile. Does he seem sorry to you? I put it to you that he does not.