The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: “The Candidate’s Wife Affair”
In San Francisco, Napoleon provides bodyguard services for Miranda Bryant (Diana Hyland), wife of presidential candidate Senator Bryant (Richard Anderson) and rumored target of a THRUSH kidnapping plot. Posing as a press photographer, Napoleon chaperones Miranda to her appointment at a beauty salon. While he waits in the foyer, she’s ambushed by THRUSH operatives, who whisk her to their hidden lair beneath the salon and replace her with a woman who’s been surgically altered to be her duplicate. When Fake Miranda rejoins Napoleon, he fails to notice the switch.
Later, Napoleon saunters into U.N.C.L.E.’s San Francisco headquarters, where Mr. Waverly and Illya greet him with bad news: According to the electronic voice print U.N.C.L.E. has on file for Miranda, Napoleon has been escorting around an unknown enemy spy. Illya gets in a few cutting digs about his partner’s ineptitude in failing to prevent THRUSH from making the switch right under his nose. Hey, Illya? Not that you don’t have a point, but remember back in season one when you spent an entire episode unaware THRUSH had replaced Napoleon with an evil doppelgänger? Glass houses, my dear.
Napoleon heads to campaign headquarters to inform Senator Bryant of his grievous blunder (to Napoleon’s credit, this is one of those rare occasions where he appears to actually feel very, very badly about hopelessly mucking up his assignment). When Bryant’s campaign manager, Arnold Fairbanks (Larry D. Mann), tries to prevent him from entering the senator’s office, Napoleon angrily whips out his U.N.C.L.E. badge and browbeats him into letting him pass.
Er… Napoleon? You’re holding your badge upside down, babe.
At the news that: a) the woman he assumed was his wife is actually a lookalike spy, and b) the whereabouts and condition of his real wife are presently unknown, Senator Bryant rages and fumes. He threatens to destroy U.N.C.L.E. and wreak terrible personal vengeance against Napoleon if Miranda is harmed, which is a fairly reasonable reaction under the circumstances. Bryant is leaving for a short trip to D.C. to meet with the President; Napoleon promises to have Miranda back safely by the time he returns to San Francisco.
Napoleon hustles Fake Miranda into a car and offers to escort her to her hotel. The car is being driven by Illya, who has donned an adorable chauffer’s cap for the occasion. Napoleon manhandles Fake Miranda into guzzling some truth serum and interrogates her as to her true identity. The serum has no effect—Fake Miranda passionately insists she’s the real deal—so Illya advises Napoleon to give her a second dose: “There was a girl in Honduras. I had to give her three pills before she’d tell her right age.”
…I’m going to give this show the benefit of the doubt and assume that bit of dialogue was just dashed off carelessly by the screenwriter, and thus wasn’t intended to indicate any deeply creepy and inappropriate past behavior on Illya’s part.
Even with a second dose of serum, Fake Miranda’s façade doesn’t crack. The serum makes her: a) sleepy, and b) amorous, so Napoleon brushes off her advances, then takes her back to her hotel room and forces her to drink some coffee.
While Fake Miranda tries to revive herself with a splash of cold water to the face, a THRUSH assassin bursts into her hotel room and attacks Napoleon. Fake Miranda comes out of the bathroom and spots the assassin trying to drop Napoleon off of her balcony. Whipping out some formidable judo moves, she chucks the assassin over the railing to his death.
Visibly confused and aghast at her actions, Fake Miranda claims to have no idea where her expert judo skills came from—she simply saw Napoleon in mortal danger and reacted on instinct. Stunned and grateful, Napoleon promises to support her, no matter what side she turns out to be working for.
Meanwhile, Illya breaks into the beauty salon at night in an attempt to find the real Miranda. He wanders around in the darkness, taking some time to admire his hair in the mirror. Fair enough. You do have nice hair, Illya.
While primping, he stumbles across an entrance to the secret THRUSH lair hidden in the building. He’s spotted on hidden camera by gin-swilling THRUSH doctor Osvald Caxton (Than Wyenn), who has been trying to brainwash the real Miranda into becoming a secret THRUSH ally. Caxton sends his hulking henchman Etienne (James Daris) to capture Illya: “But be gentle. We may have some use for him.” I’ll bet you do, Caxton. You and a million other THRUSH ne’er-do-wells.
So Etienne walks up behind Illya and bonks him over the head and takes him to Caxton, who ties Illya up and drunkenly quotes a little Jabberwocky at him, then announces his plan to use him as a guinea pig to test out his iconoclastic brainwashing drugs.
While all this is going on, Napoleon and the Fake Miranda are off falling in love, which is very sweet and very tedious, so let’s focus on Illya, who is getting groped by the drunk and creepy Dr. Caxton, who is too occupied with stroking Illya’s hair to ever get around to testing out his drugs on him.
No, seriously. Dr. Caxton will spend this whole scene fondling Illya’s hair for absolutely no plot-related reason. “You have a fascinating head, Mr. Kuryakin,” he tells Illya lasciviously in between swigs of gin from a fancy coupe glass.
In an attempt to trigger Fake Miranda’s memories of her true identity, Napoleon takes her to Fairbanks’s home, where Real Miranda used to work as Fairbanks’s assistant, to see if anything looks familiar and also to maybe neck a little.
They’re surrounded by THRUSH goons, led by Fairbanks, who reveals himself as the mastermind behind the plot to kidnap Miranda. He takes Napoleon and Fake Miranda to the beauty salon and orders Dr. Caxton to stop molesting Illya and speed up the brainwashing efforts on Real Miranda. Dr. Caxton is sort of bummed about this.
Fake Miranda whips out her judo skills again, beats the crap out of Dr. Caxton, and frees Illya and Napoleon, whereupon everyone heads over to the in-progress political convention. Real Miranda, now under THRUSH control, is waylaid by Fairbanks, who gives her a gun and orders her to kill Illya and Napoleon. Real Miranda shoots Fairbanks in the gut instead, then calmly waltzes out onto the stage to join her husband.
A dying Fairbanks wonders why the brainwashing failed to work. Illya and Napoleon cheerfully inform him that they injected Miranda with a brainwashing-reversing serum in some part of the episode we didn’t get to see.
And Fake Miranda is revealed to actually be a groovy beatnik chick/judo instructor named Irina, who’d been brainwashed by THRUSH into believing she was Miranda Bryant. Out of gratitude for her part in the mission, Mr. Waverly buys her a judo studio of her very own and gives Illya and Napoleon lifetime memberships. And then the episode ends awkwardly with Illya and Napoleon facing off against a couple of comely Asian judo experts, and everyone sort of forgets about how Napoleon and Fake Miranda/Irina proclaimed their love for each other a handful of scenes ago.
Well! Nothing about that episode made a lick of sense.