Mission: Impossible (1971) – The Miracle, and Encounter

Phelps (Peter Graves) and his team work to convince the mob that one of its high-profile hitmen have turned against them by having a change of heart, literally.

The Miracle was written by Daniel B. Ullman and debuted on 23 October, 1971. And no matter what I think of the episode (it was okay) what I really liked about it were the guest stars. Joe Don Baker plays the hitman, Frank, a very young Billy Dee Williams plays an up-and-coming thug named Hank who seems handy with a shotgun, and there’s Lawrence Montaigne from Trek’s ‘Amok Time,’ as one of Phelps’ team.

Willy (Peter Lupus) pretends to assassinate Frank, but actually just renders him unconscious, while Casey (Lynda Day George), posing as a hostess and potential (and abused) romantic interest for Frank helps to set him up.

In the hospital, Frank is convinced he’s received a heart transplant, and the team plays up the fears that he could begin to behave differently as the essence of the man who donated the heart adapts to Frank’s body.

He may not be convinced but his boss, Alvin (Ron Feinberg) is, and they plan to eliminate him once and for all, as well as anyone connected to him.

Billy Dee is awesome in what he does with his screen time, he’s great, and Joe Don Baker as a hitman just sounds like a win to me, though his get-up at the beginning of the episode is pretty extreme, even for the early 70s.

Encounter was written by Howard Berk and first aired on 30 October, 1971. Casey takes on the role of Lois (Elizabeth Ashley), a mobster’s wife who has turned alcoholic, and if the IMF have their way, a threat to the mob when she seems to turn informant.

Lois is unhappy with the work her ex-lawyer husband, Martin (Lawrence Dane) is doing and has turned to drink because of it. She hates his boss, Frank Brady (Val Avery) and he begins to see her as a threat when it seems she can’t keep her mouth shut when she’s drunk.

The real Lois has been tucked away in a hospital overseen by Barney (Greg Morris who doesn’t have much to do in this ep and less in the previous). Meanwhile, Casey as Lois begs Martin to give her one more chance, she’ll start going to an encounter group (run by Phelps and filled with IMF agents) to deal with her alcoholism.

Brady is afraid she will talk during the sessions and sends a henchman, Dekker (William Smith!) to watch her and if she says anything, kill her.

Casey as Lois is planning to do precisely that. The team listens in on Brady’s meetings and then outs that information in Lois’ sessions, making her a target, and putting the baddies exactly where the IMF wants them.

I’ll dig deeper into season six next time when I explore more of Paramount Pictures’ Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on Blu-ray, available now!

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