I’ve actually left my weekend readers hanging longer than the imagined audience for my impossible fourth season premiere of Assignment: Earth. You had to wait a week to find out how the confrontation of Gary Seven and Louis Ten was going to end. The imaginary people watching it on TV only had to wait until the end of the commercial break.
So of course Gary shows up at the motel first. After Roberta Lincoln sends the distress signal, we see where Gary has been all this time, in a Foto Hut van in New Jersey.* He’s grown a beard, and looks more like a dropout hippie than ever before. But when he detects the signal, a kind of ESP, he reverts to his old, hyper-logical, determined self. There’s one more scene where Isis, believing she could die at any moment, is about to tell Roberta a horrible secret about her role in the Aegis when she loses consciousness. Gary appears and mystically heals her, but she won’t wake up until the end of the episode because that would ruin the climax.
*Yes, in case you’re wondering, I essentially turned Gary Seven during his wilderness year into Leo from That 70s Show. And be fair, as wonderful as Tommy Chong was in that part, wouldn’t it have been hilariously weird to have seen Leonard Nimoy in that role too? Basically, I think any role involving an eccentric weirdo on television from 1970 to 2005 would have been amazing if it had been played by Leonard Nimoy.
Walking around outside the motel, Roberta, in a motormouth style Barbara Feldon will have perfected over the last three years of playing her, rapidly infodumps as much as possible on Gary. After she runs out of breath, he tells her that everything was stated much more clearly in Isis’ psychic message, but he appreciates her concern. He also reveals that he’s known Louis Ten for a long time. When Louis arrives, the two men talk calmly, like old friends, then walk into the fields of the abandoned industrial district.
Naturally, we don’t see the fight. Seeing the fight would ruin it. Instead, the camera follows Roberta in the motel room looking after a recovering Isis, then being interrupted by the thunder and lightning of a hurricane appearing outside the motel, which quickly changes to hideously unnatural colours. Green, red, blue, and purple lights. Thunder that incorporates horrifying howls that are beyond the capacity of any life form on Earth. When the scene calms down, Gary staggers into the motel room, picks up a still-unconscious Isis, and takes her back to New York.
Roll credits. Welcome back to Assignment: Earth.
One of the arcs of Assignment: Earth is that, from the first season onward, Gary Seven is going to learn powers that bring him closer to those of his alien masters, the Aegis. Isis assures him that his developing powers are a sign of his growth as an operative, as he progresses beyond the needs of physical technology and becomes able to control the energy weapons and quantum calculations that she and the Aegis central computers can. It’s an old theme in both science-fiction and philosophy that the human body as we understand it is limited, but that we have the potential to access higher planes of existence. I personally don’t think of these planes as higher, just a different set of abilities which open up different capacities for worldly action. Given some of the problems physical technology have caused humanity when combined with our natural sense of greed and hunger for power, I wouldn’t mind a few years of experimentation with psychic powers again. I’d probably regret it.
Season four of Assignment: Earth, after the premiere, would see the same adventure plots returning, but with the new twist that the Aegis didn’t entirely trust Gary Seven or Isis. Being their only operative on the scene, and the only operative capable of killing the rogue Louis Ten (or did he???), they don’t mind his more eccentric methods and his new taste for individuality and variation. They don’t mind it, but they don’t like it.
|For an actress as talented and versatile as Nichelle
Nichols, it's remarkably difficult to find images of
her online that aren't in a Star Trek uniform.
I thought of a wonderful way for Aegis to reassure Gary that a return to something like the status quo is possible after the events that caused his own rogue status. When Gary Seven, Roberta Lincoln, and Isis return to the Prospect Heights brownstone that was their base through the third season, they aren’t sure what they’ll find, whether Louis Ten represented official Aegis, or was another rogue agent operating for a mysterious purpose. At the start of the episode, they learn the new status quo. On walking up the steps of the brownstone, a familiar face emerges. Gary immediately and happily welcomes his old friend, Selena Three, played by Nichelle Nichols.
We learn from Selena, who will be a recurring character in season four, that Louis was a rogue agent who had murdered his minder Osiris and disappeared from his own assignment in the USSR to find Gary. He had sent a series of increasingly unhinged messages to their command, growing obsessed with Gary’s ability to disappear from the view of Aegis. Gary’s new mission, in addition to any historical-dialectic tweaks that become required, is to help Selena discover why Louis Ten went rogue, how he was able to kill Osiris, and what effects his treason might have had on other operatives on Earth. His mission for the first episode in the new status quo, after shaving his terrible beard, is to find out if the operative Francis Eight, currently attached to the British delegation to the United Nations, is likely to betray Aegis.
Selena Three claps her hands to call her black labrador dog, Loki, and leaves the brownstone, letting them know they’ll be seeing her again.