Sunday, June 11, 2017

Mission: Impossible -- Episode 20: The Golden Serpent

To Watch: Part 1 Part 2

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
A Southeast Asian triad represented by a golden serpent symbol is drug smuggling and using the revenue to gain control over third world countries.  The IMF team, along with Barney Collier, plans to take down a prince (and triad member) by framing him and resurrecting his dead twin brother. After the prince gets killed, the team turns their attention to the businessman at the top of the smuggling ring.

Memorable Quote:
What the hell's going on?  ~Grant
About it being too easy?  ~Nicholas
Did I say that?  ~Grant

Some relatively compelling drama (very compelling by this show's standards) involving Grant finding his father near death but having to leave him to complete the mission, although they did miss an opportunity later when Grant finds out he's alive -- he just says "Dad?" and then the scene ends. Could have been an emotional moment.

The laser-in-the-eyes bit was silly, and also it's hard for me to believe that Barney would be able to see again after that.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Our first episode of Season 2 and a two-parter at that.  I've watched this one in bits and pieces over a period of weeks so let's see how good my notes are.  At first glance, not too good.
  • Early on there's a shot of the Sydney Opera House -- wait a minute, am I still watching MI2?
  • I wrote "Ring is key?" in my notes.  I don't remember what that means, maybe they used a ring as a key at one point and I was surprised?  I'm not going to spend much time (ok, any time) rewatching to try and figure it out.  
  • Grant's dad, Barney, is involved with this mission.  We saw him in The Condemned, and it's worth mentioning again that the actor is Phil Morris's (Grant) father in real life, and he appeared on the original MI series.
  • I like the underground lair, feels kind of Bond-like.
  • I knew the villain was familiar but I couldn't place him.  After googling him, it turns out that he was Glass, the Yakuza leader in MacGyver's Log Jam and one of the best villains from the series!  I hope the committee doesn't revoke my PhD in MacGyverology.
  • Max picks the worst possible location for sniping -- a bridge that takes 10 minutes to get off. And given that he has a parachute, why doesn't he just use it right away? Although it does give us a chance to see Max try and dodge the bad guy's metal throwing blades, which I thought were a creatively distinctive weapon.
  • I like the idea of a presumed dead twin brother coming back to challenge the prince, but it would have made more sense if the prince hadn't seen the brother die.
  • I also like the multiple identical cars being used to confuse the tail.  I just saw a similar maneuver used on Burn Notice the other day.
  • Shannon finds Barney, weakened and presumed dead, in a room lying down on a sofa.  After talking to him for a minute, she tells him to get some rest and then leaves. How about at least getting the man a glass of water or something?
  • For the second straight episode, I'm complaining about the inconsistency with Max as a fighter. In Season 1 he's defeating an elite boxing champion and here he's having to break a sweat to defeat a puny pencil pusher.
  • They sure didn't skimp on explosives at the end.

Final Analysis:
Overall this two-parter was pretty solid, and while I didn't love it, I'm ranking it 4 out of 20.  The plot held my attention and moved at a good pace, and it was nice to see the characters' relationship (in this case Grant and Barney) as part of the story.  Hopefully this is a sign of better things to come for Season 2.


  1. I remembered season 2 being better than season 1. Hopefully this good start portends a more enjoyable second half of this countdown for you. I liked the first half of this one quite a bit. The second half was slower but juiced up by some of the best pyrotechnics I've ever seen on a TV series at the end. On the other end of the spectrum, they completely ruined the otherwise exciting ending of the bridge scene at the cliffhanger with the no-holds-barred worst blue screen effects I've ever seen on TV or movie. I was temporarily breathless when you didn't mention this in your review. Every review I've ever seen written about this episode chides it for the unbelievably terrible falling and parachute blue screen work mostly from the beginning of Part 2.

    Beyond that, I had some of the same takeaways as you in that the underground lair had a very kitschy James Bond feel. The eyeball torture thing was cheesy and must have evoked some bad memories of your favorite episode "The Devils". Grant's response to finding his father was still alive was hilariously understated. The entire storyline with the prince's brother returning from the dead via Nick was nicely crafted. I am gonna have to at least temporarily revoke your MacGyverology PhD. for not recognizing Glass from "Log Jam" playing the prince immediately, given that these episode aired only months apart so Patrick Bishop looked the same in the two different series. Good point about Max's fight skill inconsistency too. I guess at least the blond in the white miniskirt didn't kick his ass.

    I guess I'll put this one between "The Fortune" and "The Devils". It had a lot of cool things going for it and the explosion at the end of Part 2 was sensational. The second half lost momentum for me though and I have to dock points for the worst special effects in TV history with Max's bridge fall.

    1. Yeah the bridge special effects were probably worth mentioning -- in general I tend to take it easy on shows from the 1980s, like in my Thief of Budapest review I said that the 8 minutes of Italian Job footage "didn't bother me that much." Hopefully I can get my PhD back soon!