Since this is part 2 of a two parter, we get a “Previously on…” from Macnee. Okay, he doesn’t actually say, “Previously on The New Avengers” but his staccato recap covers things Steed doesn’t know so it’s clearly not intended to be in-story. The clips from the last episode conclude with contrived ‘last hurrah’ of the sleeper troops that passed for a cliffhanger – giving us the freeze frame into the titles.
Rather than getting bigger, this episode goes smaller scale. Instead of 250 troops, we get just two ‘K agents’ (I’d forgotten to wonder what the hell the K in the title was for). Once again the pace is glacial, and this time we see our heroes sitting around and being bored. It’s impossible to imagine this happening in the original series, and it’s weird seeing even Gambit behaving moodily. Purdey inevitably gets some excruciating quirky dialogue that is weird and irritating in equal measure: “I’m a girl, I’m a girl and I won’t let that fact go unnoticed.”
Gambit hears his teacher (mentioned in the last episode) in his head ‘A bullet can be deflected.’ Uh oh.
And Steed gets shot. Twice. The first time, he gets hit in the cigarette case. It was bad enough that happening in Faces (getting hit in the watch). Doing it again is taking the piss.
Gambit also gets shot twice, although he’s only grazed on each hand by each bullet.
Steed loses another chum. “He was my friend. He came to warn me. And he lost his life.” So the supply hasn’t yet completely dried up then.
It’s not clear why the sleeper agents thing the assassination will have such major consequences (the start of World War III). Nor does it require these ‘sleeper’ agents for the job, since they’d have no particular advantage over any other Russian who entered France taking advantage of the relatively porous borders during peacetime. Stanislav Jr could have done it, or the thug at the embassy who carries out a hit on his orders. Which rather undermines the whole premise of this second part.
The relative ages of the sleeper/unfrozen soldiers don’t seem to have been thought through in this installment either. Stanislav Jr is played by a 56 year old actor, his father by a 28 year old. That means Sr would have been 2 years old when his son was born, which is somewhat implausible. The widest plausible age gap, if the son is to appear old than the father, would be about 14 years. Was the maths too difficult for whoever cast this, or did they just assume the entire audience would be innumerate?