There’s a seriously shocking opening for an Avengers episode: a plane crash with 38 fatalities. The manner of their deaths is grim as the pilots guided by wreckers, and, in a brief model shot, the plan crashes into pylon. What then unfolds is a partly a procedural, as Steed works with crash investigators to discern whether there has been foul play (and whether it is connected with the cargo of sterling bank notes) and brings in Dr King to determine the cause of death of the crew. But it takes a spooky turn in the convent near the crash site where the bodies were taken, leading to a confrontation between Steed and the Catholic Church. And it’s terrific, a really exciting and effective mix.
I’m still not sure whether the plot entirely made sense – there’s partly the incongruous model shot showing the plan bursting into flames when it hit the pylon (how could the stewardess have run away before the plane caught fire?) and the cause of death of the pilot (strangulation) was not really explained. Also, according this story, Dr King is an incredible pathologist – he establishes the causes of death of all 38 passengers before lunch.
Besides the dodgy model shot at the start (which was actually quite effective) the other major production blooper was at the end of the first act, as the dramatic that the pilot was strangled was slightly spoiled by a close up of his corpse blinking. But generally this is an excellent production, and the design is terrific (once again it’s by Robert Fuest).
The standout scene is Steed’s showdown with the mother superior: “It isn’t good enough…I’m going to arrange for the Garda to surround this convent in case the killer tries to break cover. And I’m going to ask the Chief Superintendent of the county for a search warrant.”
“You seem to forget, Mr Steed, that you are in Ireland No police officer dare enter this place without my permission. And no authority will override it…”