1-13 The King of Knaves Affair

Rewatching the Man from UNCLE

blog review uncle

I'm rewatching every episode of the Man from UNCLE series from start to finish. This review may contain spoilers.

They said it couldn't be done, that the work of a Notary Public wasn't exciting enough to feature in an action spy show. This is the episode that proved them wrong.

This episode's admittedly pretty convoluted. I had to re-watch it to put all the pieces together, and I'm still not always sure how the pieces connect. But I say this as a compliment. There's good convoluted and bad convoluted, and this is the good, dime novel detective good. The story begins with a prospective deal for uranium.

Solo and Ilya go undercover, and of course their covers are only tenuously preserved as they inevitably run into people who saw them snooping around as secret agents earlier in the episode. It's funny how both UNCLE and The Avengers have the same staffing issues. I'm not sure what purpose Solo getting recognised serves in this story, though. Nothing comes of it, and it makes UNCLE seem a little silly for using the same two agents who did the recon work to also do the undercover follow-up.

Solo, or his assumed identity, gets kidnapped and conscripted into an up-and-coming dictator's army.

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But before all that happens, there's [honestly] a B-plot about a notary public on the trail of a man who needs to sign an insurance form. She and UNCLE collide in some unexpected ways, and it's a subtle red herring that isn't quite a red herring. In the end, this both distracts from and bolsters the plot in ways that I would normally expect from a Bogart detective movie more than from a TV episode that isn't even a full hour.

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This is an enjoyable episode. It feels a little like four or five episodes bashed into one, but it's satisfying.

Lead image by Anthony DELANOIX under the terms of the Unsplash License. Modified by Seth in Inkscape.

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