The British Government are keen to extradite Vanessa Stewart (Moira Lister), who they accuse of treason. She’s fled to the Middle Eastern state of Beth Ja Brin and Drake is tasked with the job of bringing her back home, by any means necessary ….
It’s plain that Drake and the British Government’s representative, Hardy (Richard Wattis), don’t get on. Drake’s insouciant body language during their meeting is evidence of this, as is the way he occasionally stops bantering to reveal his colder personality. This scene (and a few others in the episode) could almost be McGoohan’s rehearsal for the role of James Bond, although given his distaste for the character that was never a possibility.
Drake’s contact in Beth Ja Brin is Nikolides. He’s played by Donald Pleasence, which is a major plus point in this episode’s favour. Nikolides initially gives off a faintly comic air – grumbling about his unpaid expenses – but, as we’ll see later, he has a ruthlessness which belies his placid demeanour.
In addition to Pleasence’s excellent turn, there’s a brief appearance by Warren Mitchell as Stashig. He’s a member of the opposition who’s also been given orders to locate and extract Vanessa. Mitchell lights up the screen for the few minutes he appears, deftly establishing Stashig’s friendly rivalry with Drake. Stashig is murdered off-screen by Nikolides, who reports the news to Drake in a calm, matter-of-fact way – allowing a good moment for McGoohan to register, briefly, shock and rage.
Drake dons a white dinner jacket for a trip to the casino, once again playing the James Bond role well, especially when he indulges in a spot of baccarat with Vanessa. Mind you, I’m surprised that the casino not only allowed his bet without any apparent security but didn’t seem bothered about making him pay up after he lost!
Paul Stassino and Zena Marshall also feature, as Mr and Mrs Ramfi. Ramfi is a wealthy industrialist who is hiding Vanessa in his well-guarded mansion whilst Mrs Ramfi glowers at the way her husband has been captivated by this outsider. Neither character is particularly fleshed out, Ramfi’s longing for the trappings of British high society being his defining trait.
Given that Moira Lister was the episode’s main guest star, it’s slightly surprising that Vanessa remains off-screen for a large part of the episode, only really making an impression during the last few minutes. But even though McGoohan and Lister don’t have a great deal to do together, there’s still an appealing spark between Drake and Vanessa.
Returning Vanessa to England with embarrassing ease, Drake then demonstrates his independent spirit by burning her passport (if he’d handed it over to Hardy it would have put another eight years on her jail sentence).
We never learn exactly what Vanessa did, but her defence (that she isn’t a British subject, despite owning a British passport) is one that Drake accepts instantly. Without knowing more about her case, it’s hard to know whether he’s been wise or foolhardy. But it’s a sign that he’s always prepared to trust his instinct.