K is for Kill, Part 2
I actually disagree with the boys here about the second episode. In many ways it is a lot more fulfilling, as the plot manages to cover the full episode just about (Pat's voice-over introduction showed just how dispensable most of the first episode was), but that doesn't stop there, as there are huge gaping holes in it at times. There's a few less incidental characters to follow 'round, and there's a tighter feeling. The final sequences in the bell tower are particularly well-shot and directed. Cornell, Day and Topping note that essentially this is a Day of the Jackal variant, but given that The Avengers has mimicked things from Batman to Jack the Ripper to Wacky Races, this is hardly a problem.
In many ways this episode is quite violent. Both Steed and Gambit get shot twice, although Steed ends up less affected by this. He is thankfully saved the first time by a cigarette case he carries around for his friends (also seems he's given up smoking), but sadly not from an awful scene when Purdey and Gambit find him lying on the balcony. Gambit is given the old, clichéd "he taught us everything we know" line, while Jo over-emotes so badly that the whole thing's an embarrassment to watch.
In other places the episode shines. The whole setting of Steed against the bureaucracy is a welcome sight, and Vernier's Colonel Martin gets better and better, especially with some of his dry comments to the Minister. There's some nice humour around the cafe, too, with the waiter's "the world is changing" lines. Also, the scenes where Purdey demands to be recognised as a girl are wonderful. The tautness of the funeral scene works splendidly, a classic use of a noisy climax to break the mounting tension. Sad that poor old Gaspard had to die (he was quite a likeable character), but it was essential to the plot.
But here's where we encounter the weaknesses. For a start, the "Gambit deflects a bullet almost with his bare hands" scene requires a huge suspension of disbelief, and even worse as this was taken to the full extreme in the awful "The Gladiators." Then there's all the problems surrounding Stanislav's father. Judging by his youth when he comes out of hibernation, Stanislav must have been about ten when he reached the rank of Captain! To have him about the same age as Stanislav would have worked a lot better.
Laurie also has an off day by putting some very cheesy music to the plot which could have used a little dramatic flair!
Ah, well, it was mainly a French production, not quite The Avengers as we know and love it, but I prefer this to the "The Lion and the Unicorn." Vive la difference!
materials copyrighted per their respective copyright holders.