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Purple haze

Craig is lying on a bed somewhere, soaked in sweat and dreaming about the plane crash that led to him getting his super powers. Meanwhile, back at Nemesis HQ, Richard and Sharron demand to know where he is. He's inexplicably late back from an assignment, and Tremayne is being unnecessarily obstructive. Something strange is afoot. Sadly, however, the something strange is annoyingly hard to recap.

I like this episode. Practically nothing happens in it, it's completely lacking in the character interplay that I like so much, there's no humour, precious little action, and ninety-nine percent of the episode takes place in one room. In short, pretty much everything that I love about The Champions is missing from this episode. And yet it works. There's a fine sense of drama, the performances are good, and the writing is strong. Mind you, I am definitely a Craig fan. If this had been a Sharron episode, I suspect that my opinion of it would differ drastically.

So, Craig is caught up in memories, then. It soon becomes clear that he's in a cell, drugged up to the eyeballs, and undergoing an interrogation from a thoroughly nasty bloke who turns up from time to time trying to confuse him. Unable to completely trust his own senses, Craig staggers about, struggling to make sense of everything; and, mostly importantly of all, struggling not to talk. He's being interrogated about his most recent assignment, the Retford Case, but that's not the only secret that he's protecting of course. Alone and weak, he struggles to stand up to the interrogator's various tricks, but there's something else bothering him too. Gradually, bit by bit as the episode progresses, he manages to regain control of his memories, and realises that he's imprisoned because of Tremayne. He remembers going to report in after returning from his work on the Retford Case, only to be given a glass of drugged whisky. So what exactly is going on? Out in the real world, Richard and Sharron have put two and two together, but are not prepared to do anything. Worried about giving away their secret, they decide to keep out of the way. This time Craig is completely on his own.

And that's about it for the plot, really. So, welcome to the screencaps. Your one-stop-shop for dishevelled!sweaty!Craig. The writers of this show know what they like, and certainly they know how to get it. In abundance.


In Nemesis HQ, Tremayne listens without sympathy to Richard's and Sharron's demands for information about Craig. He gets angry with them, and tells them to go away.


Richard and Sharron are not impressed, but there's nothing they can do. They depart to investigate things alone, wondering where their companion is. Well I can't say for sure, but if the sound FX are anything to by, then he's in the TARDIS.


Yep, certainly could be. There's a nice effort made to demonstrate Craig's disorientation in various scenes, by using odd camera angles and lenses to distort perspective. It's really quite effective.

I do have one question, though. Sharron and Richard strongly imply that Craig has been missing for several days, so how come he's clean-shaven? Do the Champions not need to shave?


Craig meets his interrogator for the first time. Another nice trick was to have him initially only appear behind a gauze screen, which keeps him further removed from Craig's cell, and consequently emphasises Craig's isolation.


Craig struggles with confusion and drugs.


The interrogator, predictably enough, is not sympathetic.


Zonk.

He does a lot of that in this episode.


And they certainly kept the make-up people busy. "More sweat for Mr Damon, please!"


He's going again.


Zonk. The close ups of him zonked tend to show that it's a specially soft floor, as protection against all the zonking. Still, it doesn't really matter.


Zonked again. Certainly got plenty of rest, didn't he.


Chilly!Craig, just in case anybody was getting bored of the sweat. The interrogator tries to increase the disorientation by randomly altering the temperature in Craig's cell.


He tries to intimidate Craig, by emphasising that Craig has no idea what time or day it is.


Craig, however, is determined to stand firm. Able to see his interrogator's watch, he tells him what time it is. The interrogator is thrown, but only temporarily.


Left alone again, Craig remembers meeting with Tremayne. It's clearly the last thing that he remembers before waking up in the cell.


Desperate to escape, he turns his super powers to the door, gradually tearing off the hinges. He's weakened by the drugs, however, and can only manage one hinge for the time being.


Zonk.


Finally, the pieces connect. Craig remembers getting the drugged whisky from Tremayne.


And from the rest of the Tremayne Quadruplets, apparently.


The realisation clearly upsets him, though I'm not sure quite what his reckoning is at this point. Does he suspect Tremayne of being a traitor, or has he realised that this is a Nemesis interrogation? Presumably it doesn't matter a great deal right now.


Returning to the door, he tears off the second hinge, only to find that behind the door is a brick wall. The disembodied voice of his interrogator taunts him - but doesn't demand to know how the bloody hell he just tore an inch thick steel door apart. Clearly interrogation has its limits.


The interrogator returns for more taunting, but Craig is once again overcome by drugs. He's avoided the food, but something has been piped into the taps that supply the sink in his cell. Everything begins to go peculiar. And...


Zonk.


Elsewhere, Tremayne is troubled when Sharron and Richard pay him another visit.


They've figured out what's going on, and clearly now all share some uncomfortable secret.


They know where Craig is, but show no signs of interfering.


Back in the cell, the latest drugs have got Craig hallucinating. Encouraged by his interrogator, he believes himself to be in Hong Kong, working on the Retford Case. This is really quite an endearing scene.

Richard and Sharron's conversation with Tremayne suggested that yet more time has passed, however, and still Craig shows no need of a shave. What's up with that?!


Lost in the hallucination, Craig is clearly really enjoying his ride through the streets of Hong Kong. He doesn't give the interrogator the information that he wants, however, and instead begins to see through the hallucination.


So does the cameraman, who promptly goes for the interrogator.


Craig then attacks the cameraman in return. Before...


Zonk.


Craig's at his wits' end now. The drugs and the hallucinations have pushed him to the brink, and he's desperate for it all to be over.


He remembers Tremayne drugging him again, only to suddenly see something else.


On the other side of the gauze screen, there's somebody else with the interrogator now. Richard and Sharron are there as well. That's about as much as Craig can take.


The interrogator tries to push his advantage, and reveals the true reason for the interrogation. He's not interested in the Retford Case at all - just in how Craig managed to solve it. What is Craig's secret, and how does he always manage to get such exemplary results? Once again, he comes up blank. Craig collapses again, but this time he's only faking it. The drugs appear to be wearing off.


Although I still think that this is pushing it rather. Yes, okay, so the plan is that anybody locked up in the room would be too out of it to find secret big red buttons. Craig is only able to find this one because he's super. All the same, it's a bit much to have a button inside a prison cell that opens the door.


"Honey, I'm home."

Craig finds that the corridor outside his cell leads to Tremayne's office.


Hit him, Craig.


And him.

Craig learns that the interrogation was due to his own perfect success rate. The Nemesis brass suspect that he might be working for the other side; although personally I'd have thought that if he was working for the enemy, they might prefer it if he didn't keep beating them. The Nemesis people have come to the conclusion that one way or another, there is something very odd about Craig.

See, didn't I keep telling you to stop flashing your powers about all the time?! And did you listen? No.


Tremayne relents, and lets Craig go, but there's somebody waiting for him outside.


Richard explains that after he worked out what was going on, he couldn't do anything for fear of revealing their secret. Craig is not impressed. As far as he's concerned, there should have been something that they could have done.


Richard is not at all proud of himself.


Meanwhile, the interrogator pressures Tremayne to continue the investigation. He's sure that there's some secret that Craig is hiding, and he wants to find out what it is. Tremayne refuses, and draws a line under the affair, but the interrogator is clearly not prepared to let matters lie. I wonder if we would have seen him and this plot line again had there been a second season?


As the interrogator leaves, Richard joins Tremayne in his office. They wonder if Craig will forgive them. Presumably, yes, since this is never mentioned again.

It's an interesting story, then. Due to the nature of TV in those days, there are no knock-on effects. This is never mentioned again, but one does have to wonder if Craig can ever entirely trust Tremayne after what he's just been through. For that very reason, the writers were clearly very careful to keep the torture on a mental level only, but recent research in last week's New Scientist points at mental torture being just as bad as the physical kind, particularly in terms of long-lasting effects. There's fanfic in them thar hills. ;)

In the meantime, this is how you do your cut price, budget-saving episodes. Take note, modern television makers. Especially those obsessed with making episodes based on clips from previous adventures.

Next up is the penultimate episode, "Desert Journey".

Comments

( 19 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
elfbert
Mar. 14th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
I do understand why they didn't do any linked-up episodes, but I do wish they'd followed up on this. As you say, I guess that's what fanfic is for.

I've started writing bits and bobs of fics, one with Craig heading home and the others following him to try and work things out. But I don't write well without people to bounce ideas off, and I never write fast!

I do like how they were brave enough to leave this episode without the cheesy 'aaaand, now it's all better' jokey lines at the end. It was a brave episode, to basically question the whole premise of the show.

xx
elfbert
Mar. 14th, 2010 06:35 pm (UTC)
Still don't know how they knew to make the room telepath-proof, though...but they must have, or how on earth would Richard and Sharron not know where Craig was? After all, they can locate him within a million miles of ocean...but not in the next room?? ;)
swordznsorcery
Mar. 14th, 2010 06:42 pm (UTC)
Remember "The Happening"? Craig made it pretty obvious in that one that he's telepathic, and also strongly insinuated that Richard is too. This episode works well coming straight after that adventure, as Tremayne really does seem to guess at the end of it that there's something going on. So does the conspicuously un-Australian general in charge of the atomic test. It could well be their reports that led to the interrogation taking place.

Or so says my personal sense of canon, anyway. :)
kroki_refur
Mar. 14th, 2010 06:49 pm (UTC)
The whole telepathy thing seems to be kind of hit-and-miss (although maybe they would one day have got to a point where they could actually control it, as it seemed like Sharron was managing to do in that one where Craig fell out of a plane). It seems like sometimes, at moments of high stress, one or both of the others can do a kind of locator-beacon thing, but certainly not always, and most of the time it seems pretty involuntary. So, OK, Craig was clearly under high stress for the entire episode, but maybe the drugs were messing with his ability to broadcast, or maybe they were just really unlucky and didn't happen to pick it up?

OR maybe they did pick it up but they couldn't triangulate because they were standing too close to the source.

OR maybe they did pick it up and that's how they figured out where he was in the first place! Oh em gee!

I am fan, watch me fanwank :D.
elfbert
Mar. 14th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)
The whole telepathy thing seems to rely on whether the writer-of-the-week thought it would help or hinder their plot! I think all their powers are a bit like that. And who can blame them...well, we can...but y'know.

It would have been sorta nice to see them TRY to communicate with him, even if it just added to his confused drugged-up hallucinating woes. I mean, there's never any harm in piling on the woe.

nice to see you here, these recaps have become the highlight of my day, and we're nearly at the end, so it's lovely to have someone new onboard!
kroki_refur
Mar. 14th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)
Haha, yes, totally! I frequently find myself going "hang on, can't they just, you know, punch the guy out or something?" However, I am the sort of person who finds great pleasure in finding tortuous justifications for clearly ridiculous things, so yay!

ALSO, I now really wish they had tried to communicate! So much woe potential! Well, I suppose that's what fanfic is for :D.

And yes, I seem to have come rather late to this particular awesome party, but I'm really glad I found it! Maybe there'll be another party some time :D.
swordznsorcery
Mar. 14th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)
But I don't write well without people to bounce ideas off,

Isn't that what the Champions community is for?!

and I never write fast!

That doesn't matter. If there's something you want to write, you should give it a go.

*encourages gently* :)
elfbert
Mar. 14th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
It is, you're right, and hopefully we can keep it a little more lively. I shall post...at some point XD
zigsternenstaub
Mar. 14th, 2010 06:28 pm (UTC)
I'm particularly fond of the notion that this man got a good deal of rest in interrogation. :D

I noticed that you have a new site! Yay! I'm glad that the fanfic did not disappear with Geocities.
swordznsorcery
Mar. 14th, 2010 06:46 pm (UTC)
I've had that new site since June. :D Haven't added much to it recently, though. I did start a new Highlander story, but there's been a lot going on in real life lately. I must try to finish it sooner rather than later, though.
zigsternenstaub
Mar. 14th, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)
Oooh, a new HL fanfic! I'm so happy to hear this. I've been craving a new one from you for a long time now. :)
swordznsorcery
Mar. 14th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)
Hopefully you won't have to wait too long. If necessary I shall just have to kick real life in the teeth, and tell it to get lost for a while.
kroki_refur
Mar. 14th, 2010 06:42 pm (UTC)
Oh man, this is one of my all-time favourite episodes, even though when I first started watching it I was like "oh, huh, it's a clip show". It's pretty amazing how they manage to keep the tension and interest going over 50 minutes with barely anything happening and barely any interaction. Although sweaty dishevelled Craig probably has something to do with that. Heh.

So, I think my favourite moment of the episode was when Craig saw Sharron and Richard behind the screen, and it was totally ambiguous. The first time I watched it I wasn't sure if they had arrived to rescue Craig or if he was just hallucinating them, or even if they were some kind of crazy doppelgangers, and it never even occurred to me that they might be in on it in some way. And then when the twist was revealed, I'm pretty sure I had literal jaw-drop issues. They actually went there! Holy crap.

So, yeah, I need to rewatch it so I can check out all the subtleties now I know what was actually going on. Also, considering how important the bond between the three is for the show, I do think it's impressive that they would undermine it like that (and also as they do in a few other episodes, but not with quite the same degree of moral ambiguity).

Uh, hi. I'm Refur, and I've just found your recaps and I've really been enjoying them and thanking god that there's actually someone in this fandom. I'm going to shut up now. :D
swordznsorcery
Mar. 14th, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty sure Richard and Sharron really are there. They tell Tremayne that they've figured out where Craig is, so I guess he lets them go in and see what's going on. Quite what they thought the effect on Craig would be, I don't know, but they might not have thought that far ahead. It's when the drugs are wearing off, though, so it's unlikely to be an hallucination.

And yes, you definitely need to watch it again. Any excuse is good. ;)
kroki_refur
Mar. 14th, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, totally, once it was revealed that Craig was in Nemesis, it became clear that Richard and Sharron were actually there. But on my first watch-through, before I knew where he was, it was deliciously ambiguous.

I think I will watch again soon. Like tonight. This is a good plan.
swordznsorcery
Mar. 14th, 2010 10:52 pm (UTC)
It's a very good plan.

And that's a very good icon. :)
kroki_refur
Mar. 14th, 2010 11:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I was inspired to make that icon when moving out of my flat in Glasgow. I swear, somebody should have been doing archaeology on the grease in that oven. Why are there never super-powered spies around to clean my oven for me, that's what I want to know. That totally counts as truth, honour and justice.
elenopa
Mar. 14th, 2010 08:18 pm (UTC)
I remember watching this one.

Craig put a glass of water in the cupboard so that when it froze, he knew the thermometer was rigged.
swordznsorcery
Mar. 14th, 2010 10:52 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's the one. It's a good episode. :)
( 19 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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