2x11 The virtue 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.

A treacherous politician, Robespierre (played by Ronald Long), is capturing brilliant scientists for some nefarious purpose. Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin recruit Albert Dubois, played by Mala Powers, to help bring her (yes, Albert is a woman) father's killer. Emotions are high, though, because Albert has known Robespierre since she was a child, as he was her father's closest friend.

Robespierre, presumably because the available sets encouraged it, is a fan of French history, with a special interest in Napoleon (not Solo, the original one) and of course the guillotine. He's a gentleman, of course, and presents himself as a man of high morals, nobility, and chivalry, he dresses all in white, and naturally he wears a white eye patch. He's the very model of a righteous avenger, ready to guide civilisation to enlightenment.

image from Man from UNCLE

The B-plot involves Ilya Kuryakin going up against an expert archer. He uses a bow of a new modern design to impress the archer, but of course the archer figures out that Kuryakin is an UNCLE agent and captures him. Kuryakin is delivered to Robespierre and condemned to death by guillotine.

Solo comes to the rescue just before the blade drops, Robespierre is defeated, and good triumphs.

What just happened?

This isn't a bad episode, but it's not particularly spectacular either. Stuff happens, baddies are defeated, world order is preserved. The problem is, it doesn't ever really feel like the main villain is that great a threat. He is a great threat, it's just that it doesn't ever really come across on an emotional level. He's obviously a villain, and he's somebody you want to see get foiled, but only because he's such an obvious villain.

Nothing ever comes from the potential emotional conflict of having Albert Dubois having known Robespierre as a child, and Robespierre having been her father's closest friend. It's a nice attempt at raising the stakes, but Albert barely matters to the plot, and the plot seems to barely matter to Albert.

The UNCLE agents each get captured pretty early in their respective missions. The actual story here is a run-of-the-mill escape, and even that isn't terribly exciting or unique.

Not a terrible episode, but certainly not a great one.

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

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