Visitor Reviews
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The Wringer
by Experience Steedophile

This is a really solid episode with a very good plot. From the opening you'd never guess where the plot was headed.

On the sexual politics of making tea: in this episode, Mrs. Gale serves Steed tea twice. The first time, they're in his apartment, and he's about to leave on an assignment. As he's walking out the door, he turns to Mrs. Gale and says, "Don't wash up [gee, thanks!]—but please stack away the tea things." What is she, a Stepford spy? The second time is at the end of the episode when Mrs. Gale insists on serving tea in spite of having one arm in a sling. Women are like that. We're so intent on serving men we'll do it when we're injured! It's Steed's apartment—why isn't he serving the tea?

What this says to me is that the scriptwriters were not yet comfortable with the liberated woman Mrs. Gale was becoming. Anyone who's been asked to make the boss's coffee will understand the symbolism here. Similarly, although the basic premise of the plot is that Mrs. Gale heroically saves Steed from a terrible fate, she takes a shot in the arm so that by the end of the rescue Steed is taking care of her. She's in much stronger form in the very next episode, though (see my review of "Mandrake".)

Trivia: After Steed gives his instructions about the tea things and leaves his apartment, Mrs. Gale writes something on the mirror with lipstick. What is it? I think it's "Bye" but it's pretty hard to see. I wish it was, "Stack your own tea things!"

The Wringer
by Nick Griffiths

This episode to me is a bit of a puzzle: it has a good plot and a good set of characters, but it seems a bit unusual for an episode about brainwashing. Although I wasn't expecting Clockwork Orange-style brainwashing, the brainwashing sequences are a bit mundane and ordinary. Don Leaver is hinting at the possibilities available in this episode. I quite like the time disorientation idea, though and the the swirly patterns are quite good when superimposed over Steed.

Guest performers such as Peter Sallis, Gerald Sim and Barry Letts are quite good. Sallis gives an almost dry run for his role in Last of the Summer Wine, with Anderson giving Sallis LOTSW's Cleggy a template of unease and mistrust of anything but his memories. Barry Letts is excellent, much better than I would expect for a man who became a producer in later life; Sim is excellent as always, and Terence Lodge as the titular character is evidently part of the inspiration for Austin Powers (Mike Myers was English after all). There were scenes when I thought Cathy was going to be a mini-Liz Hurley.

Patrick Macnee really gives sense to his character and successfully evokes sympathy for him. This episode could have benefited from Peter Hammond's direction, or a remake in the Emma Peel season.

Overall, three and a half bowlers.

The Wringer
by Terri

This is a notable episode, not so much for how good it is but for how good it could have been with another rewrite or two. It is one of the few stories in which the affection between Cathy and Steed is apparent. I think the scene where Steed is obsessed with his watch to the exclusion of everything else is very effective as is his escape from confinement. The scenes with Charles really drag for me though—it's hard to imagine that Steed would ever have worked for such a humorless, colorless man, much less stoically have accepted a death sentence from him. The sparse and drab office "decor" is also enough to drive anyone to the help wanted ads.

I've also watched this episode numerous times trying to figure out what Cathy writes on the mirror in Steed's apartment. My best guess is "call me."

It's surprising that Charles refers to disposing of agents who have "outlived their usefulness"—not agents who have turned traitor. Are we to believe that a 30-year veteran who develops an arthritic knee is tossed into a miserable cell, brutally interrogated and then shot? Talk about being disavowed.

It's interesting that in the end, the thing that convinces Anderson that he has been brainwashed is that The Wringer knew that he was in the spotting tower, yet The Wringer only knew where Anderson was because Steed arranged for him to receive a fake telegram. This is a clever bit of mind twisting in-and-of itself, especially if one is trying to figure out whether Anderson is really returning to his senses. It's also interesting that even though Steed has just been the victim of brainwashing, he is not above messing with Anderson's mind to get the results he wants.

If this episode had been rewritten to sharpen the dialogue with Charles (do we really care that he left his car at the airport?) and to focus more on the problem of what to do with an agent gone bad, it could have been quite good. The ending would have been improved with a confrontation between Charles and The Wringer in which The Wringer explains how he and Bethune managed to kill six agents in Austria and disrupt the Corinthian pipeline. From the Dave Rogers book, it looks like a final scene with Cathy and Charles in the spotting tower was in the script. It must have been abandoned when the episode ran over time—possibly due to things like the amount of time it took the fumbling guard to open Steed's cell door.

The Wringer
by Sean Gaffney, Cheshire, CT

I had read about this episode on this site long before getting the DVD, and was really looking forward to it. And for the most part, it was excellent, but to my surprise the scenes I expected to like most turned out to be least interesting to me.

For what it's worth, I think the writing on the mirror is definitely "call me." It was fairly clear on the DVD, and is referenced later—when Steed does call Cathy five minutes later, he mentions that he didn't get her message.

The scenes with Steed and Charles were great—not necessarily for the writing, but simply for the workaday spy stuff. A nice change of pace after all those episodes where Steed tells Cathy the details and his "organization" is left invisible. A good look into his fellow spies, so to speak.

The Wringer himself surprised me. I had read the synopsis, but wasn't quite prepared for the beat poet we received. It made the whole thing a lot more disturbing, especially that a veddy British organization would have this man as a chief interrogator. I wonder what he was like before he "went bad"...

The brainwashing scenes were quite dull to me, mostly consisting of a lot of Steed looking vaguely annoyed while waves crashed in the background. On the other hand, the escape, which was very sloppily filmed, worked well for me, mostly as it looked rushed and offhand, much like the escape itself.

And yes, the episode really did deserve another scene wrapping it up. Oh well. Still excellent.

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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