"No man is free who works for a living . . . but I am available." (-- Illya Kuryakin, "The Bow-Wow Affair")

These reviews/commentaries on the show's 105 episodes originally appeared in slightly different form on the Yahoo! Groups website Channel_D, from 2008 to 2010. If you're new to MfU fandom, these may give you some idea of the flavor of the series, which is still famous and beloved more than 50 (!) years after its premiere in 1964. Enjoy!

News: Decades Channel is running a "Weekend Binge" of MfU episodes on July 2, 2017. Check the schedule here.

(Except where otherwise noted, images are used with permission of the exhaustive site Lisa's Video Frame Capture Library. Thanks to Lisa for all her work!)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"The Bridge of Lions Affair, Part II" (ep. 2/21)

Part II picks up as it should, with the cliffhanger, as Solo and Illya manage to survive, barely, by wedging the wooden grates under the descending wine press.

The latest test cat, which Corvy placed in the machine in Part I, was turned into a kitten in minutes -- Illya arrived only moments after De Sala & Co. left.  Yet here we see that, more logically, the process takes time to teach the body how to repair and rejuvenate itself.  If the process works so differently on cats, why would Gritzky have used them so often as test subjects?  Or is it merely that it takes minutes for a cat, an hour or two to reduce a human to childhood and death, as we see later?

At the start of Act I here, Sir Norman comes out of Gritzky's machine still looking the 80 or so we know him to be.  Yet at the end of Part I, we saw Sir Norman come out looking 50 -- a continuity error that I hope was corrected in the film version.

Jordin the efficient Thrush is on his mettle here.  Of course, if he were really as professional as all that, when Solo says that Illya is dead, Jordin would have put a bullet in him to make sure.  "Can't hurt him, what?  He's already dead."  Yet his careful disarming of Solo is a model for Thrush field operatives everywhere.  If not for Illya, Solo would have had little chance to survive.  I wonder if the scene would have worked even better had we thought Illya was actually dead until his surprise reappearance?

Solo and Illya were running a step behind when they let Jordin get to Gritzky first.  Knowing Madame De Sala was in this up to her coiffure, they should have tailed her, or staked out her Paris salon.

The scene in Act II between Sir Norman and De Sala, now Lady Swickert, is a neat reversal of what she considered their former roles.  Now she has the power over him, as he obsessively examines himself in the hand mirror for (re-emerging) signs of age.

Jordin's plan is more subtle than a simple theft of the rejuvenation process.  He knows Thrush's scientists, once they know it's possible, can probably duplicate the process -- or failing that, they can screw the necessary info out of Gritzky.  His goal is something higher: to leave Sir Norman in place and use him to Thrush's ends.  (Though he states at the climax in the lab that he and he alone, not Thrush, will be the sole possessor of the process.  Was he planning on striking out on his own?)

Once again we see why Waverly deserves to be primus inter pares in Section One.  He's as well-equipped as his agents with gadgets -- in other words, he came prepared to the party! -- and as quick on the uptake when it comes to action.  Act IV belongs to him and his unflappable manner and clever dialogue, as much as to Sir Norman as he heroically tries to warn his confreres about the danger of Thrush.

Illya's defeat of the chauffeur Fleeton, and using him as a stepping stone to scale the estate wall, is another fun highlight.

The revelation that Gritzky himself, even though he knew the risks, was willing to rejuvenate himself back to boyhood and death, is startling (though it would have been more effective had the costume people not put a mustache on the kid actor!).

If Gritzky's notes are in code, wouldn't he have put the note about booby-trapping the machine in code as well?  Or did he slip in the Sixties equivalent of a yellow Post-It for Illya to read?

Verdict: Part II stands as better-paced than Part I.  Both Jordin's subtler plan, to leave Sir Norman in place as a Thrush tool, and the peculiar relationship between Sir Norman and his wife, lift this story above a simple "Thrush steals/develops something dangerous; Solo and Illya get it back/destroy it."

Memorable lines:
Jordin: "Seventy-three percent of all accidents happen in the home.  Very rarely do you see somebody who dies in a wine vat."

Solo (as he lifts the mannequin Illya is mistakenly gripping off of him): "Have you been introduced?"

Waverly (unflappably, trouncing Jordin despite the latter's gun):  "Yes, apologies, apologies. But when one has good manners, there's no need to apologize."

Waverly (to Nurse Sweet, as Solo prepares their explosive escape):  "If you and I are wise, like Lot's wife, we'd better not look."

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