Season 5

A Little Thing About Steed, Emma, Neurodivergence, and Trusting the Process

Recently my fellow tumblr celluloidbroomcloset made some postings about Steed making models to figure out what’s happening in Winged Avenger, and Emma’s responses to that activity. I followed up with one about him making diagrams in Murder Market, and then the following ideas kinda happened:

Sometimes Steed really needs that hands-on, tactile, kinetic way of solving problems. If we accept my headcanon that Steed is ADHD, he probably has so many different ideas blossoming in his head at once that he can’t corral them without creating something concrete that he can latch his ideas onto. Making the model of the building or graphing the murders is a way for him to streamline his thoughts and get them into some semblance of order. Therefore those methods are necessary for him, even if ultimately they don’t provide the key to solving the case.

I think Emma understands this. Yes, she thinks it’s cute that he builds models and makes graphs, but she’s not mocking him for needing to do that just because she doesn’t. She understands that his brain works differently from hers, and that whereas she can just puzzle stuff out logically in her head, Steed sometimes needs to draw pictures or use tools or make models before he can get to the place that Emma already starts from.

Steed doesn’t feel ashamed of having to make graphs or models as part of settling in to a case, and he’s not wasting time by doing those things. Yes, those activities do take time, and they don’t directly lead to the solution to the case, but if he refused to do them at all because he was worried about it seeming weird or stupid or tangential he’d only make himself miserable and the process would take even longer and be even less productive.

Steed probably doesn’t know that he’s ADHD, because that diagnosis didn’t exist back then. But he does know what he needs to do to solve a problem, so that’s what he does. Emma understands that, and accommodates it. She helps him when she can, but mostly she just sits back and waits for him to be ready to go on to the next step, which she does without impatience and with the presumption of Steed’s competence to know what works best for him. In the meantime, Emma pursues her own leads, knowing that Steed will make his own important contributions to the case in his own way.


originally posted on sparklywaistcoat
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Sartorial Synchrony. Or Not.


This post was originally published at sparklywaistcoat.tumblr.com.

A while back, fellow tumblr celluloidbroomcloset started a really good conversation about wardrobe coordination between Steed and Emma. In the exchange that followed, Cell asked about changes in Emma’s own wardrobe across “Return of the Cybernauts,” in reply to my post about how sartorial details were linked to the plot and the characters of Steed and Beresford.

I did a quick examination of the three episodes that precede “Return of the Cybernauts” (leaving out “Who’s Who” because of the body-switching thing) and found something very interesting.

When Emma is in sync with Steed, their wardrobes complement one another across the episode, as celluloidbroomcloset has noted. I found that when Emma is in sync with herself, her wardrobe complements itself across the episode. When she is out of sync with herself, synchrony in her wardrobe diminishes or vanishes entirely.

This lack of synchrony is at its height in “Return of the Cybernauts,” because she is out of sync both with Steed and with herself. Her interest in Beresford puts her at a distance from Steed and she herself is not sure how she feels about that relationship and undecided over what she wants from it.

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Lady Secret Agent Badassery

As I have noted elsewhere, there are many points of contact between The Avengers and The Champions, two British television series from the 1960s, and between The Champions and The New Avengers, which aired in the mid 1970s. In those previous blogs, I wrote about how elements of Avengers episodes are echoed in some of those from Champions, and then later how a New Avengers story echoed a Champions one.

Plots and villains and action aren’t the only places where these three series intersect, however. One important point of contact is in the character of the female secret agent. In Champions, this is Sharron Macready (Alexandra Bastedo), a medical doctor, biochemist, and agent of a private security service called Nemesis. Across the entirety of Avengers (including TNA), there were five female partners who worked with John Steed, but the one I’d like to concentrate on here is Emma Peel (Diana Rigg), since in many ways she has the most in common with Sharron.

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Noon in the Garden of Good and Evil

A meditation on good vs evil in Avengers, focused on a comparison of Steed and Beresford from “Return of the Cybernauts.” This originally appeared on my tumblr blog.


First let’s make a list of characteristics Steed and Beresford have in common. They are:

  • urbane
  • well spoken
  • educated
  • well dressed
  • charismatic
  • masculine
  • financially well off
  • attractive to women
  • intelligent
  • creative
  • masterful
  • calculating
  • loyal
  • willing to kill to protect the people they love (yes, I know Beresford’s brother is already dead, but if Beresford had been there in “Cybernauts” he doubtless would have cheerfully killed both Emma and Steed to protect Anderson.)

So we have these two men who have an awful lot of basically positive characteristics in common, to the point where Emma feels attracted to Beresford even as she is already in a relationship with Steed. But Beresford is evil, and Steed is not. How come?

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Steed, Beresford, and the Tie of Death in “Return of the Cybernauts”

This was originally posted on my tumblr in response to celluloidbroomcloset.tumblr.com’s excellent work on the use of color in this episode. I haven’t had much time or energy for non-fictional Avenging lately, so I figured I’d resurrect some of my old stuff for a new audience here on WordPress.


General Notes

The clothing and ties worn by Steed and Beresford (Peter Cushing!), and the ties worn by a few other characters, seem to work as sartorial commentary on the plot in the Season 5 episode, “Return of the Cybernauts”.

When Beresford is interacting with Emma, he always wears the same suit with the same black late-19th-century-style black tie, but Steed’s ties and suits change throughout the episode, and with one exception (grey suit, gold tie), Steed doesn’t wear the same suit twice with Emma.

Steed’s ties change color throughout, but the last one he wears is black. The colors of Steed’s suits also change throughout the episode, ending with the black suit and light-colored shirt at the end.

The use of black and white for the men’s clothing in these situations has symbolic significance with respect to their relationship to one another and the trajectory of the plot, and also harkens back to the original “Cybernauts” episode, which was shot in black and white.

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Superlative Steed

This was something I originally posted on my tumblr blog, but it seems appropriate to repost it here, with a few modifications.

In “The Superlative Seven,” Steed and six others are lured onto a plane by a criminal mastermind (Donald Sutherland!) who is trying to sell his method of martial arts training to a foreign buyer. The captives on the plane include a fencing master, a bullfighter, a sharpshooter, a big game hunter, a military man who has created his own system of unarmed combat (Brian Blessed!), and a strongman. And then there’s Steed. The seven of them are being taken to a remote island in order to put to the test the fighting abilities of the mastermind’s protegé, who is hidden among the seven.

avengers.strongmansteed.02avengers.strongmansteed.01While the seven are on the plane, the strongman bends a poker, which he then tosses to Steed. Steed proceeds to unbend the poker, much to the chagrin of the strongman, who had been billing himself as “the strongest man in the world.” We later see Steed engage in a bit of trick shooting with a revolver.

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The Champions Meet the Avengers

thechampions-theavengers-01

The Champions: Richard Barrett, Craig Sterling, and Sharron Macready

In September 1968, ITV launched a new series called The Champions, which was created by Monty Berman and Dennis Spooner.  The Champions ran for only a single season (30 episodes), and starred Angela Bastedo as Sharron Macready, William Gaunt as Richard Barrett, and Stuart Damon as Craig Sterling. Macready, Barrett, and Sterling are highly trained agents of an international security service called Nemesis. Each of them has a unique skill set: Macready is a doctor and biochemist; Barrett an expert in ciphers and codes; Sterling is a former US Air Force pilot.

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