Fabulous, perfectly paced, beautifully crafted, atmospheric episode. It opens with a pan across the picturesque setting to a Scottish castle (we know it’s Scottish, because Laurie Johnson’s especially composed bagpipe theme is playing – it’s actually Allington Castle in Kent). Cut to a man on the rack in the basement!
Mrs Peel is undercover as an employee of ABORCASHAATA (yes, the show is thick with these acronyms at this point).
Steed goes ‘undercover’ using the clever alias Jock McSteed. When we first encounter him, the camera pans up, so we can fully appreciate kilt, sporran and all! Emma traipses around the castle (and get locked in the dungeon) in her nightie. Later, Steed does a spot of scuba diving; I think this is most undressed he’s been seen since the early episodes. And whilst on the subject of outfits, the question of how Mrs Peel carries anything she may need when she’s in her tight leather outfit is answered when she fetches a set of lock picks from her cleavage.
In addition to the rack in the dungeon, there’s an iron maiden, and one of the bedrooms in the castle has a bed that is a hybrid between a four-poster and a cider press.
Gordon Jackson leads a splendid guest cast. I’ve mentioned Johson’s bagpipe theme; generally the music is outstanding in this one, it’d be my first choice if I could choose any episode I could have the soundtrack from (and I think it’s the episode I was watching when my grandfather made the comment I mentioned about being able to date what I was watching from the quantity of music playing).
We discover Steed doesn’t like porridge, but was a hopscotch champion (he does a charming dance, but rather than use crossed swords, uses his umbrella).
One particularly welcome development is it’s Steed who gets captured in this one. Mrs Peel, kicked out, single handedly mounts an assault on a castle. There’s a shot of her, having driven away and (presumably) abandoned her car, running towards the castle through the undergrowth. My immediate thought was that they may have built these castles to withstand hoards of sassanachs, but they’ve no chance against Mrs Peel.
The tag scene is an amphibious car. Brilliant!
This one’s simple, but for what it is, perfect. There’s a slightly over-egged red herring, but otherwise nothing fault it on – easily John Lucarotti’s best script. Castles, dungeons, four poster beds, ghosts. Wonderful.