EPISODE 22 – "TREBLE CROSS"
"The whole area is completely surrounded. There’s no possible means of escape."
"We intend to deal another devastating blow."
They know how devastated we were when we lost those good quality photos of Mars, you see…
"We will destroy the world capital, Futura City. Futura will be razed to the ground."
Major Gravener, chief test pilot at Slaton Air Base, is killed in a road accident as a result of the machinations of Captain Black. Shortly after Black and the Major’s Mysteron duplicate wander away, the body of the original Major is discovered by passing doctors and taken to hospital, whereupon, despite being dead for a few hours, the Major is successfully revived. The Mysteron Gravener goes to the Air Base and demands to be allowed to fly the XK107 fighter aircraft fitted with a nuclear warhead, which, due to his authorisation, he is duly given; however, when Slaton Hospital telephones the base to tell them that they have a Major Gravener with them, the air defences destroy the XK107 (yes, with the nuclear bomb onboard, but never mind that). Spectrum decides that the only way to bring the Mysterons out into the open is to send the real Major Gravener out in the XK107 posing as the Mysteron agent in an attempt to fool the Mysterons into… doing… um… Actually, I don’t know what this episode is about, really. What were they doing?
We learn some new facts about the Mysterons here. The very fact that the Mysterons weren’t aware that the Mysteron Gravener had been blown to pieces shows that the Mysterons aren’t some kind of gestalt or something; each duplicate has its own intelligence. The fact that Captain Black then contacts Gravener to give him the details of the plan also indicates that the Mysteron agents aren’t telepathic, otherwise Black would have surely read Gravener’s mind and realised that he wasn’t a Mysteron.
No suicidal heroics here. In fact Captain Scarlet doesn’t get to do anything beyond drive around in his car and visit Gravener in hospital.
Colonel White’s plan of action is to wait, poised, and for Spectrum to do something at the first sign of attack. It’s all well and good to say that but it wouldn’t help if, say, the first sign of attack was an atom bomb being dropped on the city. Which, in fact, was of course the Mysteron plan, so if it weren’t for that highly unlikely set of coincidences where two doctors came along at the right moment to resurrect the original dead Major, Futura City would be a mangled pile of scrap metal and corpses by now.
The Mysteron’s scheme is in fact foiled about 17 minutes into the episode by the Air Base itself with no Spectrum aid.
Spectrum then attempts another capture of Captain Black which falls flat on its face due to various factors, such as the fact that their plan was bollocks.
I was debating whether to give both teams a point is, as the Mysteron plan is halted partway through and then the Mysterons scupper Spectrum’s attempt to capture Captain Black. However, the latter plan only arose as part of the Mysteron defeat earlier on, so:
Spectrum: 18 Mysterons: 4
Two men driving around in the middle of nowhere. One suddenly cries out:
BLOKE 1: "Well, I enjoyed myself this evening!"
Gosh! He sounds very enthusiastic as well. Where did they go? A strip club or some sort of stag party for a chum where they watched some bird rubbing her knockers together as she stepped out of a-
BLOKE 2: "Yes, the lecture was very interesting."
BLOKE 1: "Dr O’Neill’s theory seemed to make good sense."
What a shame you didn’t tell him that at the time rather than waiting a few hours to inexplicably start chatting about it halfway through the journey home.
BLOKE 2: "I agree."
You can even tell from this dialogue that the second guy doesn’t even really want to be talking to the first one. The first bloke is probably the committee drunk or something, the one for whom all the others have to draw straws in deciding who has to give him a lift home every night.
The strange thing is is that after this bizarre conversation we get the two men (who turn out to be doctors) at the hospital talking about the Major, swapping details about him and his job – his pass was found – in a relatively subtle way; all the information is given to the audience but it doesn’t feel as if its purely for our benefit story-wise. Some good scripting, there.
Such clever scripting is thrown out of the window later on with some absolutely diabolical exposition when Captain Scarlet explains his and Captain Blue’s plan out loud… to Captain Blue.
SCARLET: "We’re trying to deceive the Mysterons by replacing their agent with the real Major Gravener!"
Um… well, I’m sure the audience is pleased to know that, but surely Blue already knows? I mean, they could have been explaining this to somebody at the air base and it’d have been fine but instead they’re sitting on their own in a saloon car talking to themselves.
BLUE: "And hope they’ll tell him the details of their plan to attack Futura."
What details do you need?! Mysterons + nuclear bomber = bye bye Futura City. Bloody Hell. Surely even you can get your heads round that one?
Apparently not, as Scarlet decides to overcomplicate things further:
SCARLET: "The XK107 would have landed, transferred the nuclear device to some vehicle and taken off again to act as a decoy!"
BLUE: "Very clever."
Well, by your standards I suppose it is.
BLUE: "But Captain Black has fallen for OUR decoy!"
Well, Captain Black manages to escape but they do capture a chauffeur.
DR. MITCHELL: "Increase aural pressure!"
OK, it only sounds a bit rude if you say it out loud but, come on, work with me here…
No jokes. I think. See below.
WHITE: "Well, gentlemen, it seems that we have discovered another tiny chink in their armour."
SCARLET: "Yes sir. Let’s hope we can… prise it open."
Now, Francis Matthews (Scarlet’s voice artist) gives that little pause there and speaks as if he was making some sort of fantastic pun. But it’s not, is it? It’s not even a joke of any kind. In fact it just sounds as if Scarlet is desperately grasping for a way of countering White’s metaphor and, er, failing quite drastically.
WHITE: "If the Mysterons were to succeed in destroying Futura, it would be a shattering blow to world morale."
Not to mention the millions of civilians who probably live there and who’d get wiped out in the event, right, Colonel? It’s all right, you don’t have to keep the stiff-upper-lipped officer thing going all the time you know. You are allowed to care about innocents as well.
WHITE: "Every man, every vehicle and machine are on Red Alert."
"So that’s Captain Ochre driving around Suffolk in a van, then?"
"Aided by a spaniel, Captain."
SCARLET: "The Mysterons must realise how important the security of Futura is to the world!"
Yes, that’s probably why they decided to attack it, you arse…
Lieutenant Green states that Spectrum ground forces are positioned along the route that the decoy Gravener is overflying. We then cut to a shot of Scarlet and Blue sitting in their car as they were a few seconds beforehand, indicating that, yes, they’re not part of the ground forces, they are the ground forces.
Actually, that’s not quite true, to be fair. Scarlet and Blue are in fact assisted by lots of stock footage from episode 4, Manhunt; some Geiger counter trucks, an SPV and another saloon car driving around a small model of Captain Ochre. In fact they even include the shot from that earlier episode of Scarlet’s saloon car discovering a big section of crushed hedgerow where Captain Black drove over it in an SPV.
The Angels are also flying around, represented by, erm, stock footage.
I’ve got to say that the Mysteron murder at the beginning of this one is my favourite of the whole series, especially so as it depicts Captain Black using his technical initiative rather than… I don’t know, magic. Still, what happens is that the car with the Major and his friend, Harris, are driving along a road out in the country at night and Captain Black is driving in a truck in their direction on the opposite side of the road. However, Black’s truck then extends a long pole from its side that sticks out over the side of the road, and affixed to the pole are two headlights. At the last moment he switches these additional headlights on and so, in the darkness, it looks to the Major as if there’s another vehicle on their side on a collision course with them. In their panic to get out of the way they pull their car away and, due to miraculous timing on the part of Captain Black, they go through a barrier and into a river, dying instantly.
And if you’re wondering what on Earth happens at the end of this episode: Gravener, posing as his duplicate, is told by Captain Black over radio to land at an airstrip nearby. Spectrum sends lots of vehicles there to capture Captain Black, who seems to try and make a break for it in his truck. However, when the vehicle crashes it turns out that it was being driven by Harris, Gravener’s driver from the beginning of the episode! Gasp! How he got there and when he was duplicated I haven’t a clue. Presumably when we first saw Gravener duplicated at the beginning there was an edited scene in which he and Captain Black rented a small rowing boat and fished around in the water for the other body, perhaps even eating a fine picnic spread in a meadow after their hard work. I could be, of course, being facetious.
Colonel White loses some sleep but that’s it.
A car is driven over a small hill and into some water but I’m not sure whether that really constitutes a ravine. The car doesn’t explode either, which is a damn shame.
Just one large explosion when the nuclear device goes up.
No first names.
The Colonel is at his most strained this episode, going by for long periods without sleep, so he’s not overly happy. In fact he’s developed large bags under the eyes and it appears that his mascara is running (see Pictures).
What is a Treble Cross?
Uninspired writing strikes again with the capital of the world being called Futura City. Because, like, we’re in the future and all. Ha ha. Yes. We do in fact learn the name of another city nearby. It’s called Tutura. I’m not joking.
Isn’t it phenomenally lucky that the two men who stumble across the road accident site and find the Major’s body happen to be two of the most highly qualified doctors in the country, able to revive a man after he’s been dead for at least two hours? Not so lucky is the fact that their nurse appears to be the Mysteron fashion model from several episodes back, the one who disappeared and was never found by Spectrum…
So, the airbase learns that an impostor is getting away with a nuclear warhead… and they just attack him. No caution needed in case, oh, I don’t know, the bomb should go off – nah, just kill the bastard. This is, in case you hadn’t noticed, another of those episodes where a nuclear device doesn’t appear to cause devastation beyond a loud bang.
General Gravener, after suffering a road accident, death by drowning, and deep medical resuscitation, is ready and well enough to fly military aircraft about 24 hours later.
It occurs to me that, though the Mysterons hardly ever succeed in their main plans, they still do cause a lot of bother, if you think about it. Imagine the sheer number of leading military men, medical practitioners, politicians etc. killed off over the course of the series. Though cities are never destroyed or anything they still cause a lot of administrative hassles if nothing else. I bet even those two fashion models in Model Spy had their fans, still now posting on message forums wondering where they’ve got to. Their company will have had to make up a story explaining why they’ve suddenly had to rush away so quickly. This practice wouldn’t remain exclusive to models either.
A mix of the good, the dull and the incomprehensible adds up to an average episode of Captain Scarlet, quite at home scheduled during a temporary rut of average episodes.
The evil vehicle thing OF DEATH!!!
WOAH! God, blimey, er, Colonel, you’re scaring me. Seriously, man, take a look at yourself.