‘One man can’t change the world,
A major arms control treaty is being negotiated. Wellingham
is pushing hard for the agreement, and so is the government. Burnside
opposes the talks. He argues passionately that the Soviets should
not be trusted. Despite his opposition, the government presses
He wants to scuttle the talks.
A KGB major who has been passing secrets to the west for a decade
wants to be lifted. He could probably wait a week or month with
no harm, but defecting now might well cause enough ill will to
sink the treaty.
The trouble is, the Soviets leadership want the treaty to go ahead.
When their major goes missing, they confront Peele, and ask why
MI6 is being so tactless. Peele decides to return the major. Yet,
it seems someone in the KBG agrees with Burnside. The sands suddenly
start moving very, very quickly, and move to a sudden surprising
What an ending for The Sandbaggers! Opposite Numbers is both thrilling
and frustrating. Patrick McGoohan at least had the opportunity
to film a conclusion for The Prisoner. Maybe it wasn’t the
most comprehensible conclusion, but it was a conclusion nonetheless.
Fans of The Sandbaggers, alas, have a cliffhanger in lieu of a
Imagine if Babylon 5 had ended with the episode Severed
Still, Opposite Numbers is one of the best episodes in the series
and an appropriately frustrating end to the series. Burnside’s
subtle form of suicide is suspenseful and gripping, Matthew Peele
finally redeems himself, and the last few moments are terribly,
In a rare moment of self-revelation, Burnside shares his frustrations
- ‘There’s nothing I can do about anything’
- with Jeff Ross. Later, Burnside and Willie discuss their similarity
to ‘an old married couple.’
Burnside can speak at least a little Russian, as revealed when
he introduces himself to Nikolai Sarkisyan. Our D-Ops isn’t
fond of defectors, not even East-to-West defectors: he tells Willie
not to ‘shed tears’ for Major Yuri Filatov.
Sense of style
In To Hell With Justice, Burnside wore a dark suit in Malta. He
probably was really uncomfortably warm, so in this episode he
wears a much cooler cream-colored suit while in Malta.
The scene in which Burnside walks down the hotel hallway, with
the camera alternating between shots of his head and feet, is
reminiscent of the title sequence of that other great intelligent
cult British television drama series, The Prisoner.
Last of two appearances by Len Shepard (now promoted to Head of
Station in Malta). Last of two appearances by D-Int Paul Dalgetty.
Last appearance of, well, everyone who’s left!