Mission: Impossible (1970/1971) – The Hostage, and Takeover

Sometimes, your cover is just too good. Paris (Leonard Nimoy) finds that out in the first few minutes of The Hostage. Written by Harold Livingston, this episode first debuted on 19 December, 1970.

The IMF is working south of the border again, and Paris has been posing as a hotel magnate that has agreed to finance some construction. As he leaves the American consulate, at what should be the end of a run of the mill mission, he is abducted by some local rebels, who plan to hold the wealthy American as a hostage for the return of their of their imprisoned revolutionary brothers.

Paris works at not only maintaining his cover, but finding a way to pass on coded messages to the rest of the IMF team, who have the clearance to effect his rescue, with the proviso that they capture members of the rebel leadership.

Phelps (Peter Graves), Barney (Greg Morris, who is wearing glasses throughout the episode, a first for the character I believe), Dana (Lesley Ann Warren) and Doug (Sam Elliott) concoct a plan that involves the apparent execution of the imprisoned rebels, one of whom is the leader’s son, while Dana is able to get into the camp posing as the young man’s fiancée.

It actually plays pretty tensely and the story and performances are well executed, as the rebels and the IMF square off against one another, each working for their goals, But we know who has to come out on top, and the rebels motivations aren’t really explored, they are just this week’s villains.

Takeover throws the IMF into the political arena in this episode written by Arthur Weiss from a story he developed with Jerry Thomas. It debuted on 2 January, 1971. The team is assigned a mission to stop a crooked politician, Mayor Steve Tallman (Lloyd Bochner)and the deputy mayor, Peck (Ken Swofford) – the real power behind the throne, who is using student protestors to further his own arguments in a chance to boost himself to a higher office.

Dana goes undercover in the protests as the mayor’s daughter, while Phelps takes on Peck and Tallman. Barney (still sporting those glasses) poses as law enforcement meant to help deal with the protests, Paris poses as a potential fiancée for Dan’s cover, and Doug is put into play as a businessman of sorts.

Billy Walsh (Richard Kelton) is the student leader, who recruits Dana’s cover into the protests, and lets her get close enough to see what’s going on, and work to control parts of it, to keep people safe.

This one is tightly paced, and doesn’t feel like a lot of the other episodes, this one is a little dense, necessarily so, and it’s unusual to see the team taking on members of their own government.

More assignments next week, as I continue to explore Paramount Pictures’ Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on blu-ray. Available now!

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