A Question of Loyalty
‘Are you drinking Coke - or vinegar?’
A Polish defector fails to show. Perhaps he’s merely spooked
and is waiting in his flat? Mike learns the man has been arrested,
thanks to his clay-footed colleagues. Mutual accusations result.
Meanwhile, Burnside learns he a potential defector of his own:
an agent on station in Stockholm.
While discussing Burnside, Wheatley asks Peele, ‘Wasn't
he engaged to that girl in the Special Section?’, referring
to Laura Dickens. (There was nothing in Laura's episodes to suggest
she and Burnside were engaged to be married, so Wheatley may have
heard an exaggerated rumor, or exaggerated it himself.) Peele
responds, ‘A girl Sandbagger - the first and last.’
Later, Willie says to Burnside, ‘I wonder how much of you
died in Berlin a year ago.’ Burnside confesses he hates
Karen ‘because she's alive.’
This dramatic coda reveals both the extent of and explanation
for Burnside's contempt for Karen Milner. It is also consistent
with the way Burnside feels about defectors.
Easily a favourite episode. The sheer scale of this story belies
its simple beginnings. We don’t see the tendrils snaking
from Moscow, Norway, America and even Canada,
but they are present. It exemplifies the show's fundamental theme:
lying and trust between allies and enemies.
This is an enjoyable episode in which Burnside and Peele have
some terrific arguments, with the latter showing amazing integrity.
Mike Wallace gets a lot to do; Willie provides comic relief (‘Do
you mean Jeff Ross or do you mean his shapely assistant?’)
and Jeff Ross achieves new levels of crudeness.
The Actor’s Art
Watch the actor meeting Mike in the hotel room. The long rehearsals
given to the actors really shines here. The actor playing Len
Shepherd walks on and just sells the role of a middle-aged civil
servant and espionage officer.
While on station in Poland, Mike and his colleagues speak very
freely. Presumably the were not worried about The Thing. In
1946, a carved copy of the Seal of the United States was presented
to US Ambassador Averell Harriman. It hung in the office of
the ambassadorial residence until 1952 when a flaw in the surface
of the seal was discovered.
The orament was disassembled and
a microphone was discovered. However, the extremly
simple contraption to which it was attahced stymied engineers
until a team of Britsh researchers determined that 'the thing'
became active as a bug when pelted by radio waves. The
Soviet Bugging Crisis at
the United Nations as public
domain film footage now shows.