I watched “Get-Away” for the first time the other night. This is a Season 6 episode in which bad guys who are pledged to kill Steed and two of his colleagues escape prison one by one. The first two baddies kill Steed’s friends, and are killed in turn; the last, named Ezdorf, comes after Steed which, per usual, is the last thing the bad guy ever does.
Of the King-era episodes I’ve seen so far, this seems to be one of the better ones. The premise is pretty good, if quirky (so therefore standard Avengers fare), and the writing is relatively strong. The psychedelic and cartoonish elements that so often mar episodes from this season are kept nicely in check, and best of all — no Mother or creepy Rhonda. In some ways it’s a kind of throwback to earlier seasons.
I really hate how every time they introduce one of Steed’s friends or colleagues it’s only so that we can watch the baddie off the poor sod within the first 10 minutes. (Except, of course, for the times Steed arrives home to find his buddy bleeding out all over the carpet, or already dead.) Here Steed and Tara are entertaining two of his good friends, Paul Ryder (l) and George Neville (r). It’s a happy gathering; they’re all enjoying each other’s company very much, and the men are reminiscing about past adventures. Steed proposes a toast to each of them, remembering how they fought and trained together. He clearly cares about each of them a great deal, and they care for him. Later, he tells Tara that he owes his life to them.
And then one after the other, they get picked off by the bad guys.
A mild digression: I can’t say I like George Neville much: he stares at Tara in a frankly hungry and sexual way, which is ill-mannered on several levels, not least of which is that Tara seems discomfited by it. The best thing he can think of to say about her is that she’s “delectable,” then he compliments Steed on his good taste in women, as though they were something to collect, like wine or classic cars. Ryder isn’t much better: his praise of her is limited to the quality of the canapes she made.
Back to Steed: he seems very tired and sad throughout the entire episode. Not surprising, since his two best buddies have just been murdered. But it’s more than that. His soul seems tired. He can’t even summon a properly Steedish ass-kicking face during his meetings with Ezdorf, the chief enemy agent, played by a deliciously evil Peter Bowles.
In previous seasons, Steed took a certain amount of delight in putting bullies in their places and catching the bad guys. But in this episode (and in others this season), he seems more sad about having to do it than anything else. There’s a melancholy there. He’s not sorry to see justice done, but he doesn’t find triumph in beating the bad guys any more. Rather he seems saddened that human beings continue to be so horrible to one another, and by the waste of life that happens when people choose to do evil, including the waste of the perpetrator’s life, both in the pursuit of evil and in their inevitable imprisonment or destruction, which so often has to come at Steed’s own hands.
A lot of this probably is related to his grief over losing Mrs Peel. Steed’s job was never just a game to him: he knows how high the stakes can be. But it’s not fun any more, not without Emma fighting at his side, and as much as Steed cares for Tara, she can’t possibly fill that void. The loss of that sparkle isn’t all bad, though. It brings with it a kind of bittersweet maturity, which I think is what we’re seeing here in Steed’s interactions with Ezdorf.
Oh, dear. Tara. What to do about her, poor thing.
In the opening scene at Steed’s apartment, she’s trying very hard to play the gracious hostess to Steed’s guests:
But it doesn’t really work. There’s a fish-out-of-water quality to this that I find grating. All these men are old enough to be her father. She is simply too young and immature for this role (or at least for the way she tries to fill it), and her relationship with Steed isn’t sufficient to give her the gravitas (for lack of a better word) needed for her to act as hostess in his home. Which leads to an interesting thought: if we posit an alternate universe in which Tara really had been Steed’s daughter, not his partner, and her mother absent for whatever reason, it actually would have worked, because the authority to act as hostess would be there in a different way. As it is, Tara is a bit like a young person who has moved to the grownups’ table for the first time, but is unsure whether she actually belongs there.
So eventually the guests go home, and then this happens:
Tara: I like them. I like them very much. And so do you.”
This is incredibly awkward, since even though I do appreciate that Tara is trying to show Steed that she cares about his friends and therefore about him, it seems to suggest that Tara assumes Steed wants or needs her approval of his choice of friends. But worse is when she lets Steed know that he does, in fact, like people he probably started working with before she was born, or at the very least not long thereafter. This seems presumptuous. Steed is brought up short by Tara’s statement as well, because for him the friendship with those men isn’t just a matter of liking: “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them,” he says. He owes them his life. This, of course, just magnifies the presumption of Tara’s “Hey, you like them, don’t you” statement.
Then there’s the perennial issue of the pendulum swing between Tara’s competence and her clinginess. When she goes to the magazine publisher’s to try to find a complete copy of the issue about lizards that might contain an important clue to the case, she is accosted by one of the murderers. She deals with him with wit and aplomb, eventually tossing him out the window:
But later, in Steed’s flat, when she is rescued from the clutches of Ezdorf, she flings herself into Steed’s reluctant arms:
There’s a real disconnect between the way she behaves when Steed isn’t there to watch her and when he is. In both scenes, Tara is being menaced with a gun, but it’s only when Steed isn’t there to save her that she behaves with courage, skill, and quick thinking. This has the effect of making her later clutching at Steed look like some kind of act put on for his benefit, since clearly she is actually capable of taking care of herself when she needs to, and capable of doing it in a level-headed, not-damsel-in-distress way. This isn’t unique to this episode, alas. It’s pretty much woven throughout all of Season 6. Tara’s a hot mess, basically, poor lamb, and Steed doesn’t know how to deal with it.