Mission: Impossible (1970) -Butterfly, and Decoy

Phelps (Peter Graves) and his IMF team (with Willy (Peter Lupus) back) head to Japan in Butterfly. Written by Eric Bercovici and Jerrold L. Ludwig from a story by Sheldon Stark, it first aired on 31 October, 1970.

There’s some uncomfortable things that go on in this episode as the characters pose as various Japanese nationals, which means make-up effects, but the story is fairly interesting. The team is sent to Japan to exonerate an American businessman, Kellem (Russ Conway), of the murder of his Japanese wife.

He has been framed for it, and consequently sentenced to death. The team’s assignment is to flush out the actual killer, the victim’s brother, Masaki (Khigh Dhiegh) and get him to admit to the crime. He’s a little xenophobic and there’s also a financial benefit to Kellem being out of the way.

Without using tons of tech, but yes, some make-up that is a little disconcerting now, the team work to bring down Maskai. Dana (Lesley Ann Warren) is a photographer/filmmaker who may have just happened to have shot footage of the murder (actually Dana in Paris (Leonard Nimoy) in disguise), Phelps, as always runs the game, Paris is undercover, working with Kellem’s daughter, Mioshi (Lisa Lu) and Barney (Greg Morris) helps out any and everywhere he can.

Willy has the more to do in this episode than he has seemed to ever have, and I know fans labored for him to come back, but I have to say, I rather enjoyed Sam Elliott’s appearance in the series.

Also a lot of fun to see in the episode is James Shigeta who will always be Mr. Takagi from Die Hard.

Decoy was written by John D.F Black and first debuted on 7 November, 1970.

A brother and sister duo, Alexi (Paul Stevens) and Anna (Julie Gregg) are planning to defect from their Eastern Bloc country, with a list of sympathetic government officials to sweeten the pot. What Anna does not know is that this is all a ploy, Alexi and Petrovitch (Michael Strong) a police commandant are using everything as a trap to get the list themselves, to flush out the sympathizers.

The team’s assignment is to get the list, and Anna out of the country before Alexi’s plan can come to fruition. They are well aware that it is a trap, and they will have to out think and out maneuver Alexi and Petrovitch.

And hey look! Sid Haig makes another appearance as a baddie!

This one plays a little quieter. There are character beats, and even a bit of relationship work as Phelps makes a connection with Anna. This actually feels like a spy story, and without all the usual trappings of the IMF. Sure there are some disguises, but there isn’t a lot of tech stuff at work here.

It’s a Cold War story, and works pretty well to show us that those people we feared aren’t so very different from us.

The assignments continue next week as I explore more of Paramount Pictures’ release of Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on blu-ray, available now!

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