The Man Who Came Back is one of the very best episodes, in my
opinion - despite re-using the same basic idea as 'Kill Straker',
a very tight plot and a very impressive performance from Derren
Nesbitt, who plays Craig Collins with just the right amount of
obnoxiousness and smarm.
Like all great UFO episodes, though, and some not-so-great, there
are a few oddities in the script worthy of mention.
Firstly - as we touched on a few weeks ago, The Aliens are said to
have burned out the personality centres of Collins' brain. Yet to
me, he seems to have a highly developed personality - smug,
boisterous and conceited in the extreme ..
Ginny Lake doesn't look too great in the purple wig.
Interesting that three-dimensional chess is popular in UFO-universe
1980, when the two-dimensional version is complicated enough for
most people. And is that a Rolex submariner on Grey's wrist?
Foster seems more junior in this episode than in others - Collins
tells Col Grey that he wants to have Foster accompany him on the
mission to repair SID, and Grey (eventually) replies "OK, you've
got him" implying that Grey is senior to Foster.
Straker's pre-SHADO background according to "Identified" (or is it
Confetti-Check A-OK?) is military intelligence, yet in The Man Who
Came Back we learn that he is also a satellite expert, and is the
only man apart from Foster with the necessary skill to accompany
Collins to repair SID ("He and I put SID out there in the first
place", remarks Collins).
The NASA launch with the huge Saturn-V type rocket seems oddly
incongruous in a time where people regularly visit the moon in
small, reusable lunar shuttles.
Collins' strategy to kill Straker seems extraordinarily involved -
why didn't the Aliens just program him to get hold of of one of
those nifty SHADO-issue automatic pistols and shoot him at the
next convenient opportunity?
On the point raised by Marc about where the radio signals are
coming from, I'd never really given it much thought - I guess I'd
assumed that the control signal is coming from the Alien homeworld
somehow, or maybe a UFO deep in space, outside the range of
detection from Moonbase. But, I don't think the idea of a
'radio-controlled' Collins quite works, somehow. For example, why
the animosity with Grey, or the eagerness to get hold of Col Lake
again? Neither really serves the Aliens' purpose of killing Straker
- in fact they compromise it, if anything.
And to answer Carly's question (hello & welcome, Carly!) about
Collins appearing menacingly behind Dr Jackson, the scene is never
resolved - we are left (I think) to assume that Jackson is beaten
and left unconscious by Collins, just like Grey was. Clearly he
must have been silenced somehow for Collins to have been allowed
to go on the mission to repair SID with Straker, but I don't think
it's reasonable to assume that Jackson is killed here - I think
it's better to assume that he would have recovered, like Grey did.
I have to say I think Jackson was asking for it in a sense - very
careless for someone to phone Collins' apartment, then take
Collins' word for it that he's actually speaking to Grey -
especially in an organisation as obsessed with security as SHADO.
Cheers from Sunny South London
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