Mission: Impossible (1971) – The Merchant, and Blind

Season five of Mission: Impossible came to an end on 17 March, 1971 with The Merchant. Written by Harold Livingston, the episode marked the final appearance of both Dana (Lesley Ann Warren) and Paris (Leonard Nimoy).

Phelps (Peter Graves) allows himself to be captured so that he can ingratiate himself with Armand Andressarian (George Sanders) an arms dealer that the IMF wants to bring down. With Phelps undercover, the rest of the team goes to work working to take Andressarian down from the outside, by exploiting his love of high-stakes poker.

With some tech from Barney (Greg Morris), Paris can go toe-to-toe with Andressarian at poker, but there may be a problem. Armand’s arm candy, Nicole DuBois (Jo Morrow) seems ditsy, but she has more going on than anyone accounts for (or do they?) and may end up flubbing everything for the team.

This one ends up being a very solid entry in the series, and lets both Nimoy and Warren exit on a high note, though their departure is never addressed in universe. I’ll be sorry to see Nimoy leave. I understand the reasoning behind it. He was doing the same thing week after week and it didn’t ask a lot of him in terms of character, there was no growth.

But that wasn’t what the series was known for, so it was time to move on.

And hey!! The wonderful James Hong makes an appearance in this episode, one of my favorite character actors.

Season six began on 18 September, 1971 with Blind written by Arthur Weiss.

Phelps goes undercover after some work done by a doctor to make him blind. He’s posing as a washed-up, alcoholic ex-federal agent. It seems a local mafia has a mole, and they are eager to find out who it is. Phelps’ cover supposedly knows the man’s identity and may be eager to sell it if they’ll keep him lubed up.

Of course, it’s not going to be that easy, and there’s a lot of work set up to pull things off. There’s a false rental house set up, breaking and entering a federal facility, and conning everyone into thinking Phelps really is the alcoholic blind man he appears to be.

With the departure of Dana and Paris, there is at least one position open on the team. We welcome aboard Lisa (Lynda Day George) who seems to get why she’s there, and what’s expected of her right from the off. And Willy (Peter Lupus) has some very bouffant 70s hair. So two new members right there.

There are some interesting cast choices this time out including Tom Bosley as a baddie, and Peter Brown as Johnny, the mafia man working with Phelps to get the information they need.

The story plays out exactly as you would expect. Six seasons in they know the formula, and rarely stray from it. It may be a touch stale but it’s still enjoyable if just for the performances and guest stars.

Let’s see how the season plays out! Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on Blu-ray is available now from Paramount Canada.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s