With so many wonderfully diverse series and countless thrilling episodes to enjoy, it’s not surprising that we’ve been discussing all things Anderson for over 60 years! We regularly receive loads of questions from old and new fans alike and today we’re going to answer another of the most common queries that we’ve seen popping up again and again.
First time viewers of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons are often surprised when Spectrum’s red-uniformed hero is killed in action mere minutes after his first appearance. Of course, long-time fans will know that he is duplicated as a Mysteron agent and, after seemingly being killed again, returns to life at the end of the pilot episode.
His remarkable powers of recovery aside, one question that comes up regularly asks just how did Scarlet break free of Mysteron control? It’s something that we never saw happening again in the course of the series and it’s an interesting problem.
Before we attempt to answer the question, there are three key areas that need to be examined:
1. What is a Mysteron Replicant?
2. How are Mysteron Replicants controlled?
3. Are Mysteron Replicants indestructible?
What is a Mysteron Replicant?
A Mysteron Replicant is an exact duplicate of a once-living human being that has been reconstructed by the Mysterons for use in their war of nerves against the Earth. The duplicates are physically and mentally identical to the original subject, with the only differences being their ability to be controlled remotely by the Mysterons from Mars and the power of retrometabolism (or virtual indestructibility).
How are Mysteron Replicants controlled?
As we discover in the episode Operation Time, Mysteron agents can be eliminated by high-voltage electricity. A later episode, Flight 104, shows the Mysteron influence over an aircraft to be weakened by close proximity to an electricity substation. So the Mysteron influence must in part work by tuning into the electrical signals of a replicant’s brain, similar to how radio signals are used to control toy aircraft.
Are Mysteron Replicants indestructible?
The third question is less straightforward. Mysteron agents have been shown to be dispatched by a variety of methods and only eliminated by electricity on a handful of occasions. However, if we assume that the only sure way to kill a Mysteron replicant is by eliminating the Mysteron control signal using high voltage electricity, how were the others dispatched?
The answer may be found by an examination of the Mysterons’ modus operandi. We have previously discussed how they announce their threats partly to test humanity’s ingenuity and that a victory for humanity is no real loss to the Mysterons, whose powers are far beyond human understanding or ability to combat.
So it is entirely possible that when a Mysteron duplicate serves its purpose and has been “defeated” by Spectrum, the Mysterons simply choose to cut the control signal and then let the replicant go. An interesting hypothesis and one which leads us neatly back to the original question:
How did Captain Scarlet get free of The Mysterons?
In his final moments, the replicant Scarlet was holding the World President at gunpoint atop the London Car Vu. After a tense standoff and a brief close-quarters duel, Captain Blue managed to shoot the Mysteron agent and he fell 800 feet to his death.
From the Mysterons point of view, the moment the replicant was shot and fell from the girder at the edge of the platform, Spectrum had passed the first Mysteron threat test. The Scarlet Replicant was no longer needed and the Mysteron control signal was cut.
However, what no one could have foreseen, not even the Mysterons, was that the Scarlet replicant was not yet dead – the shot had merely injured him. While the fall would kill him, there was a delay between the Mysteron control signal being cut and Scarlet hitting the ground.
These precious moments proved to be just long enough for the Scarlet’s duplicated human consciousness to reassert itself back into control, perhaps only on a subconscious level, without even being aware of what was happening.
In essence, Scarlet became himself again, but this time in a body that was made to be indestructible. After a fall that should have killed him, sheer force of will combined with the retrometabolised body was enough to bring Scarlet back from the brink – allowing him to become Spectrum’s greatest asset in the fight against the Mysterons!
That’s all for this edition – if you have a burning Ander-Question, don’t forget to leave it in the comments below!