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"Mission: Impossible" The Killer (1970)

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Who is 'Scorpio'?

Author: ShadeGrenade from Ambrosia
13 February 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'The Killer' was chosen to open the fifth season of 'Mission: Impossible'. Robert Conrad guests as 'Eddie Lorca', a professional hit-man who flies to Los Angeles to carry out an assassination. He does not yet know whom he will kill. His paymaster is the mysterious 'Scorpio'.

Waiting for him are Jim Phelps and the I.M.F. ( Impossible Missions Force ). Picking him up in a taxi, Paris ( Leonard Nimoy ) drives him to a fake hotel - the Bower. Lorca refuses the room allocated him, preferring to select his own as he makes decisions based on the throw of a pair of dice. Room 7 is fitted out with cameras and microphones so that the I.M.F. can follow his every move.

He arranges a rendezvous with a young woman in Scorpio's employ to collect his orders. But the woman he meets is not the one he spoke to. It is I.M.F. agent Dana Lambert ( Lesley Warren ). Lorca senses she is not right...

Immediately you can tell this is not the 'Mission: Impossible' of old. It opens with a short self-contained scene showing the villain relaxing while his girlfriend dances to modern music, then Phelps appears and once again gets his orders via a self-destructing tape recorder. The titles kick in, and afterwards, there's no dossier scene, but a quick briefing, and then Lorca's plane touches down and we are off.

These changes were mainly the work of producer Bruce Lansbury, who wanted to give the show a fresher, more up-to-date look. The previous season featured a number of actresses standing in for Barbara Bain, but Lansbury decided he wanted a new regular female character, and so Lesley Ann Warren ( credited as 'Lesley Warren' ) was brought in to play 'Dana Lambert'. She brought a new, youthful look to the series, proving especially useful in impersonating waitresses and college students, something her predecessors could not have done.

Robert Conrad is terrific as 'Lorca', a character who proves difficult for the I.M.F. to deal with as his decisions are often based on the random throw of a dice. Anyone familiar with the series knows that a major part of I.M.F. strategy is the prediction of their opponents' actions.

There's a long but suspenseful scene near the beginning when Lorca is being driven to the hotel, and Willy tries to delay the trip to give Jim more time to get the hotel ready. Firstly, the car stops at lights, and then a pair of lorries block the road.

Good script by Arthur Weiss, who also wrote some wonderfully daft episodes of the final run of 'Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea'.

When 'Mission: Impossible' was revived in the '80's in the middle of a writer's strike, several old scripts were recycled - this was the first. John De Lancie played 'Lorca' on that occasion.

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