Mission: Impossible (1968) – The Cardinal, and The Elixir

John T. Dugan puts the IMF team through their paces in this episode he wrote, The Cardinal, which first aired on 17 November, 1968.

Phelps (Peter Graves) and his team are asked to sneak into a country behind the Iron Curtain (which looks amazingly like Southern California) and deal with General Zepke (Theodore Bikel), a man who has designs on instilling himself as a dictator.

The only roadblock to his plan is the church, specifically, Cardinal Souchek (Paul Stevens). So on the cardinal’s yearly retreat, Zepke plans for his capture, confinement, and replacement with an imposter under his control.

Rollin (Martin Landau) goes undercover as another priest, with the intention of being trapped, and eventually replacing the imposter, while WIlly (Peter Lupus) and Barney (Greg Morris) break into the crypt to help Rollin escape from the trap. Phelps and Cinnamon (Barbara Bain) pose as a doctor and nurse who are called in, after Barney arranges for Imposter Souchek to be infected by a disease carrying mosquito.

As usual, it’s a convoluted plan, that in the end plays out exactly as the team wants it to, making Zepke look like a fool, when Souchek/Rollin accuses him of his tyrannical intentions on the public airwaves, and the actual Souchek is released from his imprisonment.

It’s fun. I still hate the fact that Barney never seems to get a lion’s share of the spotlight, but I do love how the show created all of these spy tropes and works them into as many episodes as they can.

The Elixir takes us back to Latin America, where yet another dictator is trying to cemebt their control in this episode that was written by Max Hodge, and first aired on 24 November, 1968.

Riva Santel (Ruth Roman) is supposedly mourning her husband, who ruled the country, but instead, she’s planning to cement her control over the government. The IMF is sent in to remove her from power, and they plan to do so by appealing to her desire to control the country, as well as her desire to be beautiful, and young.

So the team comes up with a plan to make her believe that Cinnamon is actually seventy, and that a doctor, Rollin, has created an elixir that will keep her young. Meanwhile Phelps, Barney, and Willy, pose as a documentary crew who are shooting film on Riva, but, as always, are actually setting her up for the big fall.

It’s an interesting con the team pulls, and just desserts are given, but we just saw a dictator in the previous episode.Still, this one is fun, and the idea behind this one ends up being really well executed, and the comeuppance when delivered is nicely done.

The missions continue next week as I continue to delve into Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on blu-tay, availale now from Paramount Canada!

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