Scene 30: Steve rejoins Oscar, where Goldman reminds Steve he was against the Mexico operation as being too dangerous to their most expensive agent, and to the Ambassador’s life, but he’s glad he was proven wrong. Steve clarifies that Oscar wants him to break Mr. Cameron out of wherever he’s being held when they find him and all within a 48 hour deadline.
Goldman says a Marine strike would be too dangerous and this is the type of one-man operation that they need his skills for [very much echoing Oliver Spencer’s reasoning for having Steve built, prior to his excision]. Steve points out that he needs a place to actually start before he can agent his way to their missing diplomat.
Scene 31: Oscar says they have one lead. Steve and Mel are brought to another hospital room, to a man lying on a gurney. It’s the recently shot Roger. Oscar goes on to tell Steve they found him lying near a small airstrip during the search for Mr. Cameron.
Steve offers he’ll question him when he comes around, but Oscar tells him that he’s dead.
Scene 32: [Apparently to justify the body not being kept cold in a morgue, rather than going on with his decomposition unhindered], We now join a woman in a lab working with rats somewhere in a basement.
[At first I thought this was Kate Jackson… but she’s actually Elizabeth Ashley.]
This is the workspace of Doctor Erica Bergner. Oh, and hey, Rudy Wells is there tucked in a corner too. He greets Oscar and Steve. Mel is still tagging along.
We now get the lowdown on Dr. Bergner’s research. She [very time-consumingly, damn it] goes over how one of three rats took eight months to learn its way around a maze. Her second rat has never seen the maze before. We watch while it climbs randomly over the low partitions of the maze, wanders around lost, etc. Finally, the third rat has also never seen the maze before, but as we watch, it runs through it correctly to find the end without ‘cheating’ by climbing over the walls.
Dr. Bergner goes on to explain her experiments with transferring brain cells from the rat who successfully learned the maze into the rat who had never seen it before -- actually transferring the memories of the maze.
The bottom line is that they’re going to attempt to take dead brain cells from our cadaver and transfer them into the live brain of our test subject in hopes that his memories of Cameron, and especially his location, will be picked up by the recipient.
Steve objects on “against the natural order of things, it’s dangerous and unproven” but Rudy tells him the same arguments were made against trying the bionics project. Steve asks who the guinea pig is to be, and Dr. Bergner offers it’s her research, her risk.
Commentary: All of this is interesting in a sci-fi way, and I like Elizabeth Ashley, so it’s easy to go along with her role in this but it’s taken up soooo much time. We’re a tad over 25 minutes into this thing and we’re still talking, talking, talking.
Get Steve and Erica into the field already, damn it!
Scene 33: Aboard the Organization’s old freighter in the middle of nowhere, Bill comes around. He’s been made a comfortable as is possible for a prisoner [well, somebody could’ve at least loosened his tie and removed his shoes, but still…].
Scene 34: At that moment in the boardroom, Julian is ‘grieving’ Roger’s tragic loss.
The Boardman waves aside Roger’s death for the business at hand, taking personal ownership over the Cameron negotiations, while Julian is instructed to continue his search for the identity of the Mexican-business disruptor. Peck actually already has found the identity of Steve, his being a world known astronaut [which undoubtedly will not hamper his secret spy career somehow] and being in the papers occasionally.
The Boardman expresses interest in taking Steve as their next hostage-for-ransom and Julian tells him that Steve has dropped from sight since leaving Aspen only days before. The Boardman hints that Julian losing another valuable target so soon after losing the Ambassador to Mexico would be rather… unfortunate.
Scene 35: Another scene with the reporters hanging around the Paris hospital for the latest word on Mr. Cameron’s minor pneumonia.
Up in Mr. Cameron’s former room, now Dr. Bergner is in a REM trance. She gets flashes of information. These are just flashes, but among them is several of Julian Peck’s laughing face and the Control Ship.
She’s unable to process the memories immediately, because there were so many of them and she was seeing them all at once, but she does know that his name was Roger Ventriss, now.
Scene 36: Oscar is disappointed and not well at hiding it, but he goes on to brief Steve, Rudy [and for some reason] Erica that the billion in gold was pulled from Fort Knox to pay the ransom demand if their time runs out before they can find their missing negotiator. Oscar says they can’t wait here on the kidnappers, twiddling their thumbs.
Steve asks Erica where they need to go. She responds Switzerland.
Scene 37: On a commercial flight [first class, but still… Commercial??] Steve asks Erica why Switzerland. She basically says it was the strongest impression, so why not.
She suddenly gets a vision of Steve hanging from the helicopter in Mexico, telling Steve that Roger had been there, and tying the Mexico case to their current assignment.
Scene 38: In Switzerland, we watch absolutely every moment of the jet touching down on the runway. Steve and Erica are taken by Taxi through a small town center, presumably toward their hotel.
But they’re intercepted by two luxury vehicles cutting them off both in front and behind.
Steve is ordered out of the cab and roughed toward one of the waiting cars. He fights back a bit, while Erica emptily calls his name plaintively, and then he's hit over the head with a gun. He’s hustled away, all under the watch of Julian.
Scene 39: Steve comes to in the backseat, while his escorts are themselves cut off by a rude minibus. This allows Steve to bionically kick the back door off of its hinges.
[This time out, we still aren’t using sound effects, but we do get the slo-mo emphasis.]
Somehow, despite the cars having driven around several corners and Julian not, he’s still able to eye-spy all of this from his car. Steve is quickly assaulted by one of his abductors with an inconvenient, long steel pole just lying around.
He hits Steve in his bionic arm, which only puts a severe bend in his weapon [Think about that for a second… just how strong is this anonymous abductor?? I’m pretty sure the implication isn’t that he’s bionic too. And, of course… *sigh*… the ‘bend‘ in the ‘steel pole‘ isn‘t even at the right place for this to have happened under any circumstances. Maybe though, we were supposed to have been too distracted by Steve‘s horrible Pumpkin Orange shirt to notice. I‘ll admit that it almost worked.]
Naturally, our bad guys get thrown into a fruit stand. As Steve is dealing with an angry Swiss market man, one of our Mercedes tries to run Steve over [which you’d think would ruin the kidnapping attempt]. He dodges, also pushing market man back into his store as the Swiss police rush to the scene.
Commentary: Yeah. Uhm. That was a supremely clumsy and public abduction attempt and I find it hard to believe that Julian Peck could have arranged something so blatant on a city street, especially after having seen Steve successfully extract his former hostage so handily.
Also, we abrupt cut from the police car racing to the scene to a tourist boat tooling down a river as we close up on our next exterior… presumably the hotel of Steve and Erica… so suddenly, I got whiplash.
Scene 40: Steve checks in and finds that Erica made it to the hotel fine, presented herself as Mrs. Austin, and took the bridal suite [!?!] while figuring out what her next move should be with Steve presumably now missing.
It allows Steve to banter with the elderly, distinguished desk clerk who ends up looking down his nose at Austin as he walks away.
Commentary: Okay, there is no way that the actual story elements are going to justify all of this padding. I’m only 32 minutes in, folks, and I’m already feeling disappointed. This would’ve been an average episode, I’m sure but this is a telemovie. Let’s get less endless placeholder scenes and more Action, Adventure, Thrills, Bionic Stunts… y’know….
Scene 41: Steve greets Erica who is obvs relieved that Steve was located/he escaped.
Steve brushes off her worry and goes straight to the phone to call person-to-person to Oscar, while telling Dr. Bergner that at least they know they’re on the right track.
While Steve changes out of his damaged, dirty clothing, he makes it clear that while he’s ready to save a man’s life, he’s not thrilled with the idea of using a dead man’s thoughts to do it. Dr. Bergner and he discuss her revolutionary memory transference work and how it could expand human knowledge from one generation to the next without any loss.
Austin’s problems are that this is a bit too much like replacing somebody’s mind, upgrading it the way that he’s already been altered and he’s taking her interest of research a little bit too personally.
[Nicely though, Steve changes his clothes with her in the room, and neither one of them treat it as a big deal, there isn’t any ‘ooh-ahh’ from Erica and it doesn’t interrupt their conversation at all.]
The return-call comes through, interrupting.
Scene 42: From London, Oscar complains about how long it takes to unload sixty-six crates and offers that he hopes Steve is making more progress at his end. Steve checks that Erica isn’t in the room, and then tells Oscar about the Mexico-Swiss connection, referring to their kidnapping group as ‘caterers’.
After hanging up with Steve, Oscar turns his attention to the Gold Shipment, with Mel Bristo being assigned to stay with it, in case their ransom-collectors show up and can lead them to their bosses. Oscar warns that the amount of gold is excessive to just put in somebody’s trunk, and with the demands to have the gold shipped to Calais, he suspects a swap out will be attempted along the way.
[Uh. This doesn’t seem to be a task for one, not-bionic, agent who has already failed to keep an Ambassador from being snatched out of a hospital, Oscar.]
Scene 43: Meanwhile, out at sea, a helicopter arrives at our Organization’s floating hide out [which we don’t inconveniently see trying to land on a ship without a landing platform, or Julian Peck having to take a mid-air ladder to the ship’s deck].
We skip into the Boardroom, where the Chairman bangs his fist on the table in irritation with Julian. He’s pissed by the public spectacle left behind in Switzerland by his botched attempts to bring them Austin.
Plus, he’s now more than half-convinced that Steve’s being in Lucerne at the same time as ‘The Contessa’ is too much to be coincidence, but Julian insists that Austin couldn’t possibly know about her [whoever she is… and it seems a bit clumsy to reveal yet another bad guy this late into things…]. Mr. Chairman glares and asks him if he really wants to risk a Billion Dollar Deal on it.
Chairman tells Julian that he exercised great restraint toward his failure in the Mexico debacle, but warns that if anything should mess up their current operation, he shouldn’t be looking forward to the Organization’s retirement benefits.
Julian has the gall to looked mildly surprised that his villainous employers could be suggesting his death if he blows this billion dollar scheme. Chairman then rages that he wants Colonel Steve Austin removed permanently.
Commentary: I do so love the cliché with the Big Bad Boss warning an underling that he’ll be killed for failure, and the Underling actually being taken aback that *gasp* he works for a villainous organization that is willing to kill their own peons if they cost the Big Bad Boss a fortune.
I mean honestly. Get a clue.
Scene 44: After a not-commercial break, Chairman joins Mr. Cameron in his prison-suite room. He offers him a glass of champagne and apologizes for his restrictive stay aboard.
Bill asks how he knew that he’d be at the Paris Hospital. Chairman makes a snide comment about assuming that he knew anything of the sort beforehand. Bill thinks this over a moment, and realizes he must’ve gotten information from The Contessa’s loose lips.
Chairman makes another snide reference regarding important people’s need to gossip about things that make others see them as important [which obvs in this situation is a direct remark about Bill’s not keeping his own damned mouth shut about his ultra-secretive meeting with the Chinese, in which he blabbed on about he exact means that he was to be smuggled to Peking… Nice Going, Asshat!].
William. Henry. Cameron. is left to wipe egg of his face, as he realizes that The Contessa’s interest in him wasn’t about him at all but about seducing vital information out of him. Chairman sympathizes, but not too much.
Still, it must be satisfying to be worth all of this trouble, and a billion dollars in gold.
Commentary: I really enjoyed the acting here of Leif Erickson. There was some nice voice inflection and a pained, embarrassed look on his face as the pieces fell together in William’s mind about how he’d been fooled. It was a nice moment of acting.
Scene 45: Aboard a totally different ship, Mel checks on his secret cargo before pulling out a briefcase phone to give an update on the progress of his shipment.
Scene 46: Back aboard the Organization ship, Bill tries to confirm that after the billion is paid, he’ll be released, but the Chairman is smirky instead. Mr. Cameron is left to wonder if he’s headed toward a forced early retirement due to his big mouth.
Scene 47: Later, Steve and Erica try a Taxi again. The driver pulls up to a random building and suggests that since they’ve seen the entire town of Lucerne three times, maybe they’d like to go somewhere specific to sightsee. Steve suggests another drive around town.
This is due to Erica trying to find something from her vision of Roger’s that looks familiar. She gets a set of numbers, but no context to them to help out. The entire time, the Taxi driver is helpfully suggesting taking them to a public phone, or dropping them off at an address, or etc. [because it’s comical, apparently… though the idiot is making a substantial sum of money driving around and around, so maybe he should shut up and be grateful for today’s profitable haul].
Steve repeats in thought, “17, 34, 6”.
Erica also got more flashes of the Freighter of Criminality, Mr. Peck, and a red headed woman, who will undoubtedly be the Contessa DeRojas.
Commentary: More travelogue shots. It’s getting as bad as Reptilicus.
Scene 48: As Steve is muttering the strange numbers, we see that those very numbers are sitting next to one another on a roulette wheel.
As we pan from the wheel, we see Steve and Erica. She comments on Steve’s brilliance with putting the number sequence together with playing roulette, and he puts this down to a checkered past.
He sends Erica to ‘mingle’ in a hope that a familiar face will pop up out of the crowd, while he continues to play the same three numbers that the late Roger Ventriss would always play when he came here.
Seconds after Erica walks away, Steve is mysteriously joined by the red head from Erica’s vision: The Contessa. She banters with Steve a bit.
Obvs, they end up flirting and she drops hints that he should drop by the enormous villa that her late husband left her, along with her money and title. Erica sweeps back in and comes to a surprised halt as she notices the Contessa with Steve. Roger fills her in with some more images. Erica marches over to Steve, looking annoyed. She accuses Steve of cheating, and on their honeymoon and slaps him before rushing away.
Steve follows Erica, where she can quickly [under cover of a heated argument] fill him in on Roger’s having known the Contessa DeRojas. Erica doesn’t yet know if she’s part of William. Henry. Cameron’s nabbing, but she tells Steve that her image keeps cropping up in Roger’s memory flashes.
Steve sends her off to the hotel, while he rejoins the Contessa to try to re-engage her in ‘picking him up’. This is accomplished tout de suite. But as they go to leave, we focus on Julian Peck spying on the whole thing from a dark corner…!
Commentary: Okay. Well. At least the plot has moved forward a bit again, so yay. However, I do find it mmm, questionable, that Steve and Erica just happen to come to the correct casino [unless Lucerne only has one, which seems unlikely] in the city. And I’ve never seen a casino [but then, I’ve only been to Vegas once & on a short gaming cruise once] that has only one roulette table in the whole place.
But, okay - I’m willing to glide by with this.
Scene 49: Steve and our Titled Woman arrive at a boat launch on her villa grounds. Meanwhile, we see an assassin overlooking them from a hill, loading a sharp shooter rifle.
Steve comments on how the villa is impressive. Contessa flirts that it’s what is inside that really counts. They walk to a small cable car for the short trip up the steep hill side from the docks to her grounds. [We watch every scintillating step.]
Commentary: Wait! Ow! Another whiplash…!
Scene 50: Suddenly, we’re at night [Soooo… the assassin with a scope didn’t bother to strike? Are Switzerland and France suddenly on opposite sides of the world? Is it an eclipse??], and we join Agent Bristo on the docks where the secreted gold has been delivered.
He’s intercepted by an official, who insists that the cargo cannot be reloaded to their ultimate destination without being inspected, despite all of the papers being in order.
[He doesn’t explain why he’d be hanging out behind crates to pester the first random sailor that shows up, rather than taking this up with the Captain. Oscar made it plain that Agent’s role was as a lowly crewman, so he wouldn’t have any authority over the shipping manifests, making the Inspector’s presence here and this whole conversation rather stupid… unless he’s part of the plant by the Organization…?]
Mel, seeing that the Inspector is going to be an obstructive bureaucrat, hands him a card and tells him to call it to have all of his answers for this rush of 66 crates of ball bearings.
He’s ordered to wait.
Moments later, the Officious Interloper comes back in shock that Mel handed him the Premier’s personal line. He’s been ordered to cooperate fully with moving this shipment out on the next train with no questions. And certainly no inspections.
Scene 51: As a train rushes toward the station, Mel takes a moment to update Oscar.
Meanwhile in Paris, Goldman is still playing interference with the throng of reporters who can’t wait to hear whether William. Henry. Cameron. is going to recover from his mild case of viral pneumonia.
Oscar is brought up short by a reporter asking about an Air Force Jet waiting at Orly Airport, and another reporter brings up a rumor that Mr. Cameron is actually planning a secretive flight out to Red China. He wants to know where the reporter heard such a thing, but gets no answer and in response offers no comment, rather than lie that it’s a ridiculous suggestion and moving on, which only gives the sharks a scent of blood in the water, so to speak.
He repeats after getting into an elevator, that Mr. Cameron is on the third floor recovering from viral pneumonia, but the reporters are in a doubting Thomas mood now [while hilariously, a reporter holds up his tape recorder frozen with apparent indecision long after the elevators doors are closed…].
Commentary: It’s hinted at here, that possibly the Organization anonymously informed about Cameron’s true trip to provide a distraction for Goldman’s OSI to deal with while they’re about to put the plan in motion to switch out the gold shipment under Agent Bristo’s nose. But it remains one of those scenes that isn’t clearly going anywhere just to fill in more time that hasn’t been spent on the travelogue of Lucerne and it’s backlot stand-in and watching people walk and talk and walk some more.
The previous telemovies tried to give Steve Austin a James Bond feel, but made sure to include bionic stunts for Austin. This script feels very much like a generic spy caper in which the Steve Austin character was clumsily inserted. With the scripting, apparently, not being written around Austin’s enhancements, there has only been the two scenes using them [the car door kick, and the badly done bent metal bar]. He hasn’t even been given a bionic eye moment yet, which I’m a bit surprised by since that’s the least flashy of his abilities and should’ve been relatively easy to incorporate somewhere.
I do find the Bergner research interesting, and I like that the highly experimental [and Sci-Fi] nature of it means that Erica can’t be used as a quick and easy data dump. I also like the way that Elizabeth Ashley is handling the doctor’s role. But there has just been too much time wandering around without specific urgency or direction in the plot.
Scene 52: Oscar was on his way to Erica’s lab in the hospital basement, where Rudy Wells has been… caretaking the rats? Continuing Dr. Bergner’s work in her absence?
He calls Oscar over to check out Erica’s test rat. The rat is stuck with its face in a corner looking ill after 18 hours of the memory implant. Oscar immediately questions how long Erica has had her implants, and it’s been 12. Both Rudy and Oscar look on the sickly rodent with worry.
It leads to a discussion in which Rudy wants Erica called back from the field to be watched over in case she also starts having a lapse. Oscar gives this serious thought, but ultimately chooses the mission to retrieve the gold and Bill over Erica’s health.
Commentary: I like this scene simply for showing that Oscar Goldman isn’t the fluffy bunny that he’ll largely become, especially when it comes to Jaime Sommers.
I like seeing the hard-ass that Oscar would necessarily be for his position, and I like that Rudy - while obviously bothered by Erica’s risks - doesn’t bother to argue a faux-emotionalism vs. logic argument over the importance of the mission. And of course, this puts a serious risk into Steve and Erica’s mission that neither of them know about, which puts in some tension that has been a bit lax since Julian revealed his true colors to Roger.
Scene 53: As dawn is breaking, The Contessa is sleeping off an obvious night of passion with Steve [hey… what did I just say about that bionic eye?] while Steve has slipped from the bed. With his bionic night vision, he looks for clues about whether she is wrapped up with the Organization, or just an ‘acquaintance’ of the former Mr. Ventriss.
With the morning light now streaming into The Contessa DeRojas’ bedroom, she starts to awaken as Steve is rifling through her desk drawers. He finds a passport with a completely different name, though with the lady’s photograph.
She remains asleep, as he first takes a bite out of a chocolate, just to put it back with a grimace to take a better one and slips out on her with her fake/real(?) passport.
The Contessa’s eyes open with a questioning expression, making it ambiguous whether his closing the door awoken her, or if she’s aware that he’s been snooping.
Scene 54: Outside, Steve rides the tram back toward the private docks. Our rifled assassin has been hanging out in the woods all night apparently, because he’s been keeping a watch for Steve.
He springs out at the bottom the trolley, and it’s only luck that keeps Steve from taking a bullet to the head. He’s left lying a bit stunned in the bottom of the descending trolley, while our assassin waits to check that he’s dead.
When Steve reaches the bottom, he gives the door a [presumably] bionic shove, knocking gunman over the railing unconscious. Steve[‘s obvious stunt person] quickly rushes into the Contessa’s motor boat and takes off.
Scene 55: But he’s not out of danger yet. Speeding to intercept comes two more men in another speedboat. They fire at him with a pistol, but trying to shoot at a speeding boat from another speeding boat is… well… you’d have to be quite the gifted sharpshooter and our pistol wielding thug isn’t.
Boat Chase. Boat Chase. A meaningless gunshot. Boat Chase.
Steve sets his powerboat on a collision course with his attempted killers and breaks off the throttle handle. He dives overboard, using his powerboat like a torpedo with the driver of the other boat too stupid to notice until he’s too late to turn away.
[Despite Steve’s purloined motor launch clearly missing the bad guy’s boat], Our Baddies blow up real good.
Scene 56: Steve returns to the hotel soaking wet, to the befuddlement of our elderly desk clerk from the prior scene.