Hitting a new low, this is where The Avengers ceases to bother being The Avengers and transmutes into a sketch-show featuring a single 50-minute sketch riffing crudely on The Maltese Falcon and other films of the Hammett/Ambler ilk. It even has Mr Green and Mr Street for the Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet characters, two among many irritating joke performances each with a tic (eating nuts etc.)
It’s the first Avengers script from Terry Nation (Hancock, Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Survivors) and his background in comedy shows. The “Quo Vadis” exchange between Steed and Tara in the car sounds like it’s been written for Hancock rather than Macnee.
Tara is subjected to Chinese water torture: her capitulation is almost instant (I thought the effect was slow, and connected with sleep deprivation?) And just how quickly would pearls disolve in wine? Surely not instantly. Also, wouldn’t the pearl also spoil the wine? Should Steed and Tara really drink it?
There’s no espionage. I suppose I should be thankful Mother doesn’t appear in this one, but that’s the only mercy.
On continuity: this is, I think, the first time we’ve seen Tara’s apartment since The Forget-Me-Knot. Well, it’s a maisonette, really, since it contains a staircase, although the window looks down on the street so it’s clearly upstairs. Anyway, in that, episode, I thought Steed and Tara both came and went through the lower floor. Now, Steed enters from the top of her stairs (meaning he climbed an extra flight to come down that way?) I’m still puzzling about the layout of Tara’s building.
Steed has his steel hat: he gives it to Tara to knock out the inferior assassin.