The Sandbaggers: Enough of Ghosts
April 15, 2016 5:41 PM - Season 2, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Geoffrey Wellingham is kidnapped in Brussels. Complicating matters, in his office is a paper detailing co-operation between the SIS and South African intelligence. Against orders from Peele, Burnside dispatches both Sandbaggers to Belgium to try and track him down. Despite both Sandbaggers being on station, most deem it to be a futile operation given the past history of hostages being murdered.

One thing I thought was worth remarking on: The cover story used to explain the death of Tom Eliot, a light airplane crash with no survivors and no recovery of the body is how series creator and writer Ian Mackintosh died.
posted by Grimgrin (5 comments total)
 
wsssh, an episode with no gut-wrenching crisis. Just a few quiet scenes, the pathos of Willie's visit to Sandbagger #2's family, the circumspect story, stiff upper lip and tea. Willie threatens to quit and Diane speaks her mind to Burnside. Wellingham and his wife in the waiting area at the airport.

Also timely, terrorism in Belgium ("indigenous groups") and the Director of Intelligence's line about "active terrorism over two-thirds of the globe".

Also Burnside willing to send both Sandbaggers on a mission where they are more or less standing by when he's balked at doing that in previous episodes. Everyone asks if it's because Wellingham is his ex-father-in-law but Burnside knows it's the South African papers in the safe. He wonders out loud to Jeff if the CIA could break in to the Foreign Office to retrieve them. I missed the bit where he asks that Karen take on the job in place of the absent Sandbagger, something about going against his principles. What was that?

I'll have more to say on Mackintosh at series' end.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:47 AM on April 17, 2016


Willie isn't fooled by the seductive East German last season but the wily West German elite leader here has no trouble putting one over one him? He might actually be twitched.

Why did Mike drive back to the house? To pick up Wellingham?

I think the 'against his principles' thing was handing over the flipped Russian directly to the CIA. Normally he'd want the capture and use the info to nurture the "special relationship" but this time he's just going to sic the CIA directly on the pick-up.
posted by carsonb at 7:28 PM on April 17, 2016


Why did Mike drive back to the house? To pick up Wellingham?

This is where I lost the plot, so much was happening at the end. I think Burnside said to him to keep searching that area but not to let the Germans know, which is why Willie said he'd been recalled. So it was just happenstance that he drove down that driveway, I don't think it figured into a previous conversation? But when you think of it, if they had been real terrorists, driving blithely up to the farmhouse would've ended in a hail of bullets. Burnside was still figuring it out on the plane in a later scene so it's not like he knew the kidnapping was a feint when he told Mike to keep looking.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:45 AM on April 19, 2016


Burnside was still figuring it out on the plane

I'm pretty sure the scene on the plane depicts him finishing up on the figuring it out. Which is why he "celebrates" with the Coke.

I had to pause it to read the list, but it's:
WELLINGHAM
1. Who was trailing W + Mike ✓
2. Why was the demand so late. ✓
3. Why was it denied? ✓
4. Why pressure on NATO? ✓
5. If not Bulan       who?

Most of those questions are answered in an earlier scene, where the GS9 "finger" squad is explained. They're a crack team of West German border patrol agents whose special mission is to chase down German terrorists in foreign countries. They cannot legally arrest anyone or take action while abroad, so they finger the terrorist to the local law enforcement and help to make the arrest. Belgian law enforcement was not cooperating, so if you start from there Burnside's list just looks like someone who's after Bulan escalating the call for assistance over and over. And who's after Bulan?

I think you're right about Mike. He was following instinct/training and it led him to exactly the right spot, validating the Sandbaggers even while they're being duped by GS9.
posted by carsonb at 7:13 AM on April 20, 2016


Okay, I see it now. Burnside had Mike continue to search alone because he was reasonably sure it wouldn't be dangerous for the hostage.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:27 AM on April 20, 2016


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