Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Revisiting The Wild Wild West: The Night of the Pelican

"The Night of the Pelican" 
Written by  Richard H. Landau
Directed by Alex Nicol
Synopsis: The enigmatic, dying words of an informant has Pike searching Chinatown, and West undercover as military prisoner on Alcatraz, to stop a plot involving a stolen explosive.

Trey: This is a more Bondian episode than we've gotten in a while. Alcatraz makes a good setting for this sort of thing, even if the scenes don't really look much like Alcatraz at times. Of course, I don't know what Alcatraz looked like in the late 19th century, I guess!

Jim: Overall, I enjoyed this episode. It uses the "agent in a prison" trope fairly well, as we see the battle of wills between West and Corporal Simon, played with gusto by Vincent Beck.  And yeah, you get that Bondian feel, like in the way West explains Chang's plot, that brought a smile to my face. 

Trey: I feel like Pike really comes into his own in this episode. Well, maybe not quite "his own" in that it's still very much an Artemus template he's following, but he gets to do a lot of stuff rather than just being a sidekick.

Jim: Yes, I found Aidman's Pike rolling along with this episode a lot more palatable. He's not Gordon, but he feels like he's found his stride. 

Trey: I don't really understand the villains' plot here fully. It seems to be "pretended to be after a large, more terrorist goal," but really all they want to do is commit a robbery.  It's Die Hard, I guess! But it seems a lot of trouble to go to with a lot of risk just to commit a robbery. 

Jim: I agree. The entire scheme feels tacked on, as it's only revealed in the final minutes of the show. I'm not even sure why the writers thought that was necessary. West's plan of blockading the port makes more sense. Maybe someone on the staff brought up the issue of Chang's cohorts being driven out by a siege, and the writers felt like they needed to adjust the script to account for that? As a robbery plan, it's a bit complicated to say the least.

Trey: Speaking of Chang, we get the unfortunate but not unexpected yellowface here--but we also get an Asian actor doing a bit of whiteface in an amusing turn! Khigh Dhiegh here is of course probably best known for his role in The Manchurian Candidate.

Jim: It's always great to see Khigh Deigh in any capacity. His performances are understated, but commanding. You know who it's also great to see?

Trey: Francine York as Dr. Gibson?

Jim: Got it in one!

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