All Done with Mirrors
What can one say? I think the title says it all! The opening titles to this extraordinary episode are, to say the least, intriguing.
This is regarded in most fan circles as the best Tara King episode ever made. This is partly due to the fact that Steed is not there to assist her: he has been placed under pretend "arrest" because secrets are leaking from a department where he had been spending a lot of time, and in order to flush out the real traitors he is taken out of service and sits poolside with Mother for almost the entire episode. Tara is sent in with a complete blithering idiot of an assistant, so she has to handle everything herself.
The story line is a classic example of The Avengers out-of-this-world style plots—I mean, whoever heard of transmitting sound down a beam of light! The way Tara scares Steed at the end is quite funny because he nearly crashes his car, and it is amusing to see him looking 'round to find this unearthly voice calling out to him and ordering him to take her to dinner.
The sets are a nice change from normal as this episode was filmed in Beachy Head, Devon. The moment when Tara is pushed off the cliff has everyone on the edge of their seats, but of course she comes through to uncover the whole plot—just before Steed arrives.
In summary, one of the best Tara King episodes ever made. She is level-headed, tactical, and a brilliant fighter.
I give it 4/5.
All Done with Mirrors
Poor Tara King. She survives a fall from a cliff and whips a horde of bad guys without help from Steed, yet there are undoubtedly folks who would complain Emma Peel could have done it better. It's tough to follow a legend.
No fooling (and not taking anything away from the wonderful Mrs. Peel), this was a fine episode for Tara. With Steed enduring poolside arrest, she had to solve the mystery and clobber the villains all by herself. (Unless you want to be charitable and count the assistance Tara received from her temporary partner, the British Barney Fife. Unhappily, he was about as helpful as the frontier scout who told Gen. Custer there were only a few Sioux doing their laundry down by the Little Big Horn.)
Anyhow, Tara met the test and proved she could survive—at least this once—as a solo act. It was good to see her growing as the junior member of The Avengers.
Besides getting to see Tara shine, I enjoyed:
Four bowlers out of five for the episode, and two out of five for Tara's high-diving form.
All Done with Mirrors
Maybe it was because, prior to this, I had watched a number of Cathy Gale episodes, which were mostly studio-bound, but I think a large part of what made me enjoy this episode was the spectacular views of the English coast. And it's not too bad of a story either.
For those who consider Tara unable to handle tough situations and needs Steed to bail her out, this episode proves them wrong. With Steed "under arrest" (not a bad way to serve time, either) and a somewhat bumbling temporary partner (although he does prove useful at the end), Tara is forced to handle things on her own, and does just fine. She is able to figure things out and fight her way out of sticky situations as well as Cathy or Emma did most of the time. It was also nice to see some of the "innocents" in the story (such as Pandora Marshall) live to see the end.
I still think the best part, however, is the locations… Gives one more of the English "experience" and is a nice change from the normal shots of the English countryside. Another episode worth seeing again and again.
All Done with Mirrors
A perfect landmark in the sixth season, this episode has a number of reasons to be ranked as a favorite by many fans of Tara. In the first place, it was directed by Ray Austin, in his second work as the top person of an Avengers episode. On the other hand, in an attempt to give the episode an authentic setting, "All Done With Mirrors" was filmed almost entirely on location, where the sea and the beautiful cliffs of the British shores were magnificently photographed. For a show whose outdoors had mostly been shot in the countryside (except for "The Town of No Return"), this makes all the difference. Additionally, as in a very few earlier stories, Steed is absent from the screen for more than half an hour. That's enough to hand off the baton to Miss Tara King (showing her own hair for the first time) who'd take the chance to give her best performance ever.
It's possible, though, that those who never saw anything good in Tara keep on finding reasons to tear "All Done With Mirrors" to shreds. However, it is also true that many others think of this episode as the best of the sixth season. I don't happen to favor either of these extremes. Instead, I think it's very important to get back, once again, to the point that puts script, direction and acting talent together. "All Done With Mirrors" is a powerful tool to weigh up Linda Thorson's acting skills, and shows an irrefutable truth—every time the story had a good script and a suitable director, her performance definitely reached, as in this case, full marks.
Linda gives her character great determination, which is even strengthened "thanks" to the fact that Watney, an inept agent, is assigned as a replacement for Steed. Tara's fights are amazingly convincing, especially that one with the bearded giant—stunning! And as if this wasn't enough, the villains (oh dear, Edwin Richfield, again?) soon realize Tara will be a hard nut to crack.
Now, at this stage is there anything to say about Steed? Well, this reviewer will always have something to say about Steed. As a matter of fact, Steed lives in a paradise during the first 40 minutes of the show. "Sentenced" to an "arduous" punishment in front of said superb pool, surrounded and caressed by beautiful ladies, with several glasses and bottles of champagne under his parasol—and in his stomach as well—one wonders what he is doing with his proverbial three-piece suit still on? Incidentally, isn't Rhonda one of those girls who's fondling Steed? Sure, it's Rhonda, in her official debut in the show.
As long as physics does not sue us for adoring those last scenes in which Steed almost crashes his Rolls after listening to Tara's voice coming from the beyond, things will go well. After all, that banquet in the middle of a romantic flowered meadow, revealing Steed's ability not only to court his partner, but to cook a steak on the engine of his Rolls, is the best way to finish off an episode that shines with its own light.
All Done with Mirrors
This is, undoubtedly, Tara King's finest hour in the series—and it's not, smartyboots, because she exerts herself in a wet blouse during the climax (although the folks at Standards and Practices at ABC in the US must have been watching Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In not to notice). No, this one is Thorson's keeper because she's finally allowed to simply brazen her way through a storyline. While she's not permitted much time for reflection (ouch!) in the plot, she engages—under the exemplary eye of Ray Austin—in some of the wildest action in the show's history.
There's the extended duel (over, at least, 100 yards) with the redheaded giant. No one bothers to explain who this guy is, what makes him so blasted strong, why he enters to Chris Lee's theme from "Never, Never Say Die," or what he has to do with mirrors—but I don't care: the fight's terrific! Austin stages it fabulously, inter-cutting close and long shots effectively, and actually pulls a neat surprise with that garden implement. Tara's vault cliff-side has to be the most preposterous survival gambit ever, but she's presented, moments later, nonchalantly stalking the lighthouse and, even if her hair's a bit mussed, butter wouldn't melt in her (or the writer's) mouth. I know Mrs. Peel was keen on water sports (Remember her swan dive to fish out the assassin in "The Bird Who Knew Too Much"?), but even she never dared such an Amazonian feat. (Of course, Cathy and Emma both would have simply sidestepped the approaching cyclist who, eyes wide... but I digress.) Tara's climactic brawl with the five guys up and down the lighthouse had me standing in front of the tube, shadowboxing. Not only does she make admirable use of the miscreants' telescope thingy, but she dispatches a hapless one in just the way you expected to see when phony Barlow told us there were 365 steps to the top. "Leap Year?" indeed!
A most curious element of this episode is the "shadow Avengers" duo of Pandora and Watney. She figures out the telescope thingy right away, although she is soon strong-armed into setting up Tara for a long fall. Watney seems a glib prat, but he does strike, however inadvertently, the saving blow for Tara. Neither, I suppose, acquits her/himself as well as Lady Diana Forbes-Blakeney would in "Killer," but, like her, I rather wish they'd been given another go...
Finally, the daisy field coda for this episode is my fave of the last season. After all she went through in this story, Tara really deserved a car-broiled filet steak. Pity, though, we weren't privy as to where on his Bentley Steed prepared the potatoes and creamed spinach...
All Done with Mirrors
Tara King's finest hour indeed. In this episode at least, Tara is a worthy successor to Cathy Gale and Emma Peel. Where Tara is normally a bit useless, here she really does acquit herself as a highly capable secret agent. A lot of the blame for the let-down of the sixth series has been laid at the door of Linda Thorson's acting and alleged lack of physicality, but "All Done With Mirrors" shows that's unfair. She was up to portraying Tara as a sharp and very athletic agent, it's just that wasn't how the character was conceived or usually written. Linda Thorson's face is in most of the shots in the fight with the red-haired giant and the gymnastic abilities she displayed are impressive. It's clear that the sixth series was never going to become most people's favourite, but it's frustrating to realise that it could have been a lot better if Tara's characterisation had been better. The plot of the episode is rather imaginative and the story contains a lot of cute elements. The direction is very good and the use of locations is fantastic. The only things I dislike about it are Watney, Tara's idiotic side-kick, and the baddie rolling down 365 steps. It must be clear that it's one of my favourite episodes from the sixth series, but despite all I've said about Tara I slightly disagree with David and my absolute favourite from the season is "Love All". Tara is a drip in it, but I love Martha.
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