Episode 2 of The Avengers is a bit of an oddity. It’s sort-of the second part of a two parter, except that it had a different director and a different writer (the writer being none other than Brian Clemens, who wrote so may episodes and produced later series). But it has to resolve the loose ends from Hot Snow, not least the question of who Steed actually is! The original broadcast version opens with a recap; this audio version does not.
Spicer, the hitman who pulled the trigger on the gun that killed Keel’s fiancé is the other character apart from Steed who carries over from the first episode: he’s the man Keel wants to see ‘Brought to Book’. Steed is now working, again undercover, for a protection gang; but he’s trying to play them off against a rival gang and he wants a man inside there too. Keel.
Steed’s job, at this point, appears primarily to be working undercover (after all, he says in Hot Snow that if he gave evidence in court he would no longer be useful because he’d be known). To some degree this is at odds with the Steed we know later, but it made for an interesting way of introducing him, and I guess it gives a pretext for his needing help from an amateur like Keel.
To me the most interesting thing in this story was the introduction of Carol Wilson, played in these audios by Lucy Briggs-Owen. Carol is the replacement for Keel’s fiancé who, of course, worked as the receptionist; and I thought she was a highlight in both The Girl on the Trapeze and The Frighteners. She has less to do here, just learn the ropes, but I suspect Briggs-Owen is going to be excellent.
The story itself is a fun enough run-around, and I’m still really excited to be listening to these. It’s less satisfying as a conclusion to the first episode (what happened to Mr Big?) but it’s much better in terms of establishing Steed and setting up the rest of the series: Steed asks Keel if he can call on him in the future “when you’re needed – really needed”.