"Mission: Impossible" My Friend, My Enemy (TV Episode 1970) Poster

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8/10
One of Season Five's Better Efforts Boasts a Fine Supporting Cast
Aldanoli7 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Like "Decoy," "My Friend, My Enemy" is another offering from the fifth season in which the story follows the IMF's enemies almost as much as the main characters. This episode postulates that Paris (Leonard Nimoy), coming back from a successful mission, is identified by an East German agent (Wesley Lau) whom he had once arrested, who then turns the tables by arranging for Paris to be waylaid on his trip and delivered into the hands of Dr. Tabor (Peter Mark Richman), a cold, calculating psychologist working for the Other Side.

Tabor knows that Paris will likely never give up useful information about his true identity or his fellow agents; instead, he goes at Paris indirectly, performing some regression work to discover that Paris had been abandoned by his mother -- something for which he still blamed his father -- and that he had lost Inga, a young woman he once loved, when she was murdered by Meerghan, the Dutch magician for whom she worked. Lau's character dismisses such information: "As I warned you doctor, he will tell us nothing of consequence," but Tabor knows better: "You're quite wrong. He's already told us something of . . . consequence."

So, for once it is the IMF's enemies who orchestrate a "mission," hoping that one of "our" agents can be manipulated into killing his superior. The "turnabout" plot is handled smoothly, and we get not only some insight into Paris' background, but also into the IMF's own procedures. Because Paris may have been captured, he must be "cleared" before he can be sent on any future missions, and because of the medical and psychological tools used (an electrode implanted in Paris' hypothalamus), for once Doug's training as a physician is genuinely useful.

The director and editors do an excellent job showing Paris' gradual deterioration, as he begins to mistake his new love interest Enid (really an enemy agent working for Tabor) with Inga and his current "control," Jim Phelps, with Meerghan, who killed the woman he loved. The scenes in which Paris mistakes the one set of characters for the other are well-shot and inter cut, something not always easily done since they have to show the characters from Paris' point of view.

As well-written and produced as the show is, however, the real attraction here is the supporting cast. In addition to Richman (making his second of three appearances), there's Bruce Glover (father of Crispin Glover) sporting a beard as Richman's assassin/henchman, Jill Haworth as Enid, and Lau as the agent who spots Paris and nearly undoes him. (Lau would go on to provide the story for this season's best episode, "The Field," a taut tale that would put Barney in one of his most desperate predicaments.) Mention also must be made of professional magician, frequent behind-the-scenes contributor to "Mission," and (as here) occasional bit player Tony Giorgio who plays Meerghan in Paris' flashback sequences; and of the truly beautiful actress Chris Holter as Inga, who was given on-screen credit even though she never speaks a line.
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