Mission: Impossible (1969) – Fool’s Gold, and The Commandante

Ken Pettus pens Fool’s Gold which first aired on 26 October, 1969, and sees the IMF team, led by Phelps (Peter Graves) to stop a counterfeiter, Igor Stravos (Nehemiah Persoff) who has enough printed cash to purchase the entire gold reserve of a country, which would allow him to topple the government.

Paris (Leonard Nimoy) poses as a counterfeiter who comes in with Phelps and Beth (Sally Ann Howes) who are posing as a government official and his wife, suffering some marital difficulties, and goes to work on Stravos, guiding him step by step in suggesting that Paris and Beth are romantically interested in one another, and replacing some of Stravos’ cash with obvious fake bills.

Willy (Peter Lupus) and Barney (Greg Morris, who gets to don a goatee as cover) aid in changing out more bills, all of it to make Stravos look like he’s caught red-handed.

There’s a lot going on in this episode, and it feels more complicated than it needs to be, but it lets Nimoy take the limelight for most of the story, and he gets to do it sans disguises. He gets the tensest of sequences in the episode, when he has to break into the vault, which has a subliminal security system that he almost can’t overcome, even with Barney’s tech.

The team has everything they need in terms of tech, counterfeit plates, and sheer nerve, but will it be enough to pull everything off? I mean, there wasn’t an easier way to do this assignment?

The Commandante was written by Laurence Heath, and was first broadcast on 2 November, 1969. The episode has Sid Haig showing up as a baddie again, as Phelps’ IMF team head south of the border to rescue a priest that has been aiding in a States supported revolution.

It seems the revolution has been hijacked by an enemy nation, with their forces been led by Commandante Acero (Lawrence Dane) and Martillo (Haig). The priest, Father Dominguin (Arthur Batanides) is in great danger, especially when Phelps’ team is exposed, and then blackmailed for weapons. Acero works on manipulating the team, which will give him the excuse to kill the priest, but maybe, just maybe, Phelps knew that there would be double crosses from the off, and has the rest of the team at work, ready to bring Acero down and escape with the Father.

This one is all about showing how clever the IMF is, letting the baddies think that they’ve figured everything out, and then the IMF pulling a rescue and escape out of their hat. In fact, while Phelps and Paris work on distracting Acero and his fellows, Barney and Willy are hard at work putting something together in the desert… I tell you Barney always seems to be prepared for every eventuality!

There are more assignments to come as I continue exploring Paramount Pictures’ Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on blu-ray!


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