The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: “The Deadly Games Affair”

A group of young boys find the body of an elderly Nazi in an oil barrel dumped beside a river. Well! We’re already off to a bleak start, aren’t we? The remainder of this episode will vacillate between sexy shenanigans and campy B-movie plot twists that come out of nowhere, but this opening sequence is a bit of a tough sell. U.N.C.L.E. is able to identify the man from his old SS tattoo: He’s a former guard named Neubel, who was assigned to protect a Nazi scientist named Wolfgang Volpe. Both Volpe and Neubel disappeared following a laboratory explosion in the final days of the war and were presumed dead. The appearance of Neubel’s fresh corpse leads U.N.C.L.E. to suspect Volpe may still be alive.

Lending more credence to this theory: Items from Volpe’s priceless stamp collection, long assumed destroyed, have been put up for auction, suggesting Volpe might be secretly trying to raise some quick cash. So Napoleon and Illya brush off their tuxes and skulk around the stamp auction in search of clues. Napoleon finds Illya hanging out at the punch bowl, looking characteristically moody and uncharacteristically flustered. Napoleon asks if he’s been recognized by someone. “Not recognized. Greeted like a long-lost brother,” a still-unsettled Illya replies, his tone filled with blistering contempt.

Napoleon peeks into the auction room and spots the object of Illya’s consternation: a slinky blonde THRUSH agent named Angelique (Janine Gray), who, just FYI, has been recreationally shagging Napoleon off and on. Illya disapproves of his partner’s habit of sleeping with his mortal enemies: “Someday you must tell me what it’s like, romancing someone who would kill you without a qualm,” he says. “It adds spice, Illya,” Napoleon cheerfully replies.

Napoleon and Angelique canoodle quietly during the auction. Napoleon suggests sneaking off for some nookie (“Your place or mine?”), but Angelique, who is a bastion of steely professionalism compared to Napoleon, firmly places the mission first: “If we don’t do our jobs, they won’t let us play together.”

They head into the hallway to discuss their respective assignments, while Illya shoots them some magnificent stink eye. Angelique observes to Napoleon, “Your friend is much too grim.” “The truth is, he’s jealous,” Napoleon replies. Angelique jumps to the immediate—and correct—conclusion that Napoleon means Illya is jealous of her for monopolizing his partner, not jealous of Napoleon for scoring a smoking-hot THRUSH babe. Angelique thinks this is all very silly: Illya should realize it’s healthy and normal for blood enemies to occasionally shag each other.

Both THRUSH and U.N.C.L.E. are working toward the same end—they’re both hoping to use Volpe’s stamp collection to find Volpe—so Napoleon and Angelique agree on a temporary truce. They pool their resources and successfully bid on one of Volpe’s stamps, which they take to a philatelist for a professional appraisal. Plotwise, absolutely nothing useful happens here—the philatelist mentions that the stamp used to be one of a connected pair, which is a story thread that goes nowhere—but this whole scene is worth its weight in gold just for the way Napoleon and Angelique openly flirt with each other while Illya seethes in the background.

More formidable stink eye ensues. Angelique, for her part, looks bemused and intrigued by Illya’s bristling hostility toward her.

Amazing. This woman is a champagne cocktail away from proposing a Napoleon-Illya sandwich.

As soon as Angelique leaves, Illya immediately starts trash-talking her to his partner: “She seems happy. Who is dead?” He notices that the carnation boutonnière Angelique gave to Napoleon contains a deadly spider: “One of Angelique’s relatives, perhaps?” Illya, babe, your claws are out this episode.

Illya and Napoleon stake out the auction house and watch as squeaky-clean college lovebirds Chuck (Burt Brinckerhoff) and his fiancée Terry (Brooke Bundy) pick up the cash received from the sale of the valuable stamp. THRUSH agents swarm the auction house and spray knockout gas everywhere. They kidnap Chuck, but Napoleon and Illya leap into action and protect Terry. From the safety of U.N.C.L.E.’s headquarters, a shaken Terry explains the whole scheme to Napoleon and Illya: An anonymous party contacted Chuck by mail and asked him to sell the stamp at the auction in return for a ten-percent commission.

Brooke Bundy, by the way, popped up on the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation as the Enterprise’s chief engineer, who appeared in a single early episode (“The Naked Now”) and then was never seen again. Someday I’m going to treat you all to my rant about how TNG did a stellar job of placing women in cool nontraditional roles—the chief engineer and the security chief were both female, hooray— then nuked all that valuable progress by swiftly replacing them both with dudes. Sorry, Brooke.

Angelique, meanwhile, poses as an U.N.C.L.E. agent and “rescues” Chuck from his THRUSH captors, with the intention of fooling him into leading her to Volpe. Napoleon whisks Chuck out of her clutches, then has the police haul her off to jail for, uh, finding employment in the U.S. in violation of her visa. This is hands-down the strangest way Napoleon has ever thwarted a THRUSH agent.

Soon, the anonymous party contacts Chuck and tells him to bring the auction funds to a deserted warehouse. Napoleon sends Chuck into the warehouse alone with the money while he waits outside with Terry. Terry objects heartily to this plan, but Napoleon reassures her that Chuck is very well protected. This seems to be an outright lie: Inside the warehouse, Volpe hides in shadows and stalks Chuck with a gun, and indeed seems quite ready to shoot him until Terry rushes inside to save her fiancé. Volpe detonates an explosion that injures Terry, then escapes through a tunnel.

Terry is taken to the hospital. Chuck and Napoleon drop by the university to pick up her coursework. Napoleon sends Chuck into the school by himself while he hangs around outside to exchange sexy banter with Angelique, who, being a resourceful lass, has already bailed herself out of jail. Napoleon is not doing a bang-up job of protecting Chuck in this episode.

Inside the school, Chuck runs into his kindly science teacher, Professor Amadeus (Alexander Scourby), who, naturally, turns out to be Wolfgang Volpe. “Professor Amadeus”? What, was “Doctor Mozart” too glib? Volpe knocks out Chuck and takes him to his home, where he’s joined by Angelique, who wants to recruit him to THRUSH’s side. Volpe, however, has zero interest in joining THRUSH. He ties up Angelique and Chuck in his secret subterranean laboratory, where he’s been carrying out diabolical stamp-funded experiments on reanimating the dead. The SS guard, Neubel, was an earlier failed reanimation attempt.

Napoleon sneaks into Volpe’s laboratory, where he finds a vat containing—wait for it—Hitler’s preserved corpse.

HITLER’S PRESERVED CORPSE. I did mention early on that this episode has some schlocky B-movie aspects to it, right? Yeah, Volpe’s been keeping Hitler in suspended animation in a lair beneath his garage for the past twenty years while he’s been working on some way to bring him back to life. Anyway, Napoleon passes out from the noxious fumes emitting from Hitler’s corpse—things sure have taken a super-fast and unexpected turn for the ludicrous, haven’t they?—and wakes to find himself strapped to a gurney while Volpe explains his fiendish plan: He’s going to use Napoleon’s blood to bring Hitler back to life.

To thwart Illya and the other U.N.C.L.E. agents searching for Napoleon, Volpe sets fire to his own house, which is directly above his secret lair. This is not his best plan: The gas tank explodes, bringing flames and debris raining down on everyone in the lab. It saddens me to report that Angelique, who has been such a monumental force of sexy, fun awesomeness throughout this episode, abruptly becomes pretty worthless here. Distraught and hysterical, she pleads for Volpe to shoot her quickly so she won’t have to die in the fire.

Napoleon gets himself loose before Volpe can kill Angelique. Fisticuffs ensue, and… well, all you really need to know is that at some point, Napoleon hurls Hitler’s rapidly-reviving corpse into the flames, whereupon an anguished Volpe throws himself into the inferno after it while bellowing, “Noooooooo!”

Angelique tries to pull a half-assed double-cross at the last minute by pointing a gun at Napoleon and stealing Volpe’s research, but Illya pops up out of nowhere and scuttles her plan. Angelique slinks off in defeat.

Back at U.N.C.L.E., Napoleon tries to give Volpe’s valuable stamp collection to Chuck and Terry as a reward for their help, but they decide they’d rather be poor, the weirdos. Illya grimly informs Napoleon that he has a visitor out front: “You’d better attend to it before the place gets a bad name.”

Sure enough, Angelique is waiting for Napoleon, in the mood for some frisky good fun now that the assignment is over. The episode ends with Napoleon and Angelique heading off together to shag each other senseless.

This episode is a doozy (HITLER’S REANIMATED CORPSE), but Angelique is wonderful enough to singlehandedly lift it into the ranks of the classics. This is her only appearance on the series, which is a crying shame, because she’s a terrific character. I only wish they’d kept her around to shag Napoleon and enrage and befuddle Illya at semi-regular intervals.


vintagehoarder said…
And it occurs to me that U.N.C.L.E.'s secret entrance isn't much of a secret, because Angelique is the first of *many* THRUSH agents that turn up at their front door.
Morgan Richter said…
vintagehoarder -- yeah, I have no idea why U.N.C.L.E. didn't move their headquarters years ago to a more secure location. THRUSH has always known where it is.
MrsSpooky said…
I LOVE Angelique! Yeah, I'm sorry too they didn't use her again, even if just for the hilarious shade Illya was throwing her way. All that delicious sarcasm and no targets (except maybe Napoleon). xD
Morgan Richter said…
Angelique! She's so glamorous and sleazy -- a perfect match for Napoleon, and a perfect adversary for Illya. Would've loved to see her make more appearances. (Love your Cowboy Bebop avatar, btw, MrsSpooky! That was a great series).

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