The Sandbaggers: A Feasable Solution
March 25, 2016 7:57 PM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

A British engineer specializing in missile engines goes missing in Cypress. Around the same time a Russian engineer specializing in guidance systems goes missing in Syria. Willie Caine is sent to Cypress to investigate after a SIS officer stationed in Cypress is gunned down. Meanwhile Burnside and Laura Dickens begin a relationship.
posted by Grimgrin (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Burnside meeting with the psychiatrist was such a violation. Even in those neanderthal times, it would be unacceptable even if their relationship would be tolerated. And naturally she's sexually repressed because, neanderthal writers, what else could she be?

After nearly single-handedly rescuing the scientists and taking out half of the Cyprus whatever-it-was-called, Burnside berates Willie for not killing the Russian scientist in cold blood so that the mole KGB agent could stay in place. Burnside knew that Willie was not a dispassionate killer; if he had this great plan to keep the woman on station, he should have communicated it to Willie who was plenty preoccupied with an armed invasion on foreign soil.

I did have to laugh when Burnside dismissed the missing (probably dead) agent as "that's security's problem." The man is incorrigible.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:58 PM on March 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

I didn't even think of keeping the KGB plant on and feeding them false info via her. I thought Willie was just going to put a bullet in her back and spirit both missile engineers out.

Burnside was given a pretty harsh look by C to figure it the fuck out. The hard part would have been communicating the plan without the KGB plant knowing. And how did the KGB know to place her, anyway?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:14 PM on March 28, 2016

he should have communicated it to Willie who was plenty preoccupied with an armed invasion on foreign soil.
Yeah, this:
The hard part would have been communicating the plan without the KGB plant knowing.

Burnside hopes that his Sandbaggers are trained to make the optimal move on their own in the field. It's like the Gib play from the last episode: Caine, Burnside, and Dickens all sort of figured out what was going on concurrently and touched base with each other before going ahead. But they were all on the same page, pretty much. Burnside would hope that his violence-abhorring #1 could put all the pieces together on his own out in the field; but Caine's already peacable judgement was clouded by a pretty woman.

I was surprised at how harshly Burnside came down on Caine, just as surprised as Caine was that the chastisement happened at all. I was not at all surprised that Caine handled it the way that he did. He is very clearly not a dispassionate killer!
posted by carsonb at 5:48 PM on March 29, 2016

Wow the sexism in this episode has aged badly. Like TWinbrook8 said (seven years ago!), going to the company psychiatrist to get dating tips for your subordinate would absolutely have not been acceptable in 1978 when this was made. I mean maybe you could have gotten away with it if the shrink is an old chum you see at the club and no one knew. But the first thing Burnside does is tell his assistant half his plan!

But I think (hope) the show is smarter than that. I think the show has good writing for the women characters in general. The assistant, Lawler, is fantastically sharp and no bullshit. Laura Dickens is multifaceted and unusual and I love her wardrobe (the Princess Leia outfit when she goes to dinner is gorgeous). The KGB agent was a lot of fun too. But the men, particularly Burnside, act like sexist pigs. Perhaps we're supposed to understand as viewers they are acting badly? I guess we'll find out.

All in all a solid episode, I liked the plot of the intrigue in Cyprus. Every single episode has had some twist where the story doesn't quite go as expected. I also liked the specific moment between the KGB agent and Willie when they part ways. Willie says something like "they'll never understand this back at HQ will they?" and she agrees. A little bonding of secret agents knowing that what happens in the field is different from what the back office might want.
posted by Nelson at 8:09 AM on August 31, 2023 [1 favorite]

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