Captain Scarlet

Captain Scarlet – Top five guest Mysteron agents

“The Mysterons; sworn enemies of Earth. Possessing the ability to recreate an exact likeness of an object or person. But first, they must destroy…”

With those memorable words, 1967’s Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons reminded viewers each week of one of the key abilities that made Spectrum’s Martian adversaries so unsettling. Literally anybody the Spectrum personnel encountered could potentially be a Mysteron agent; a reconstructed copy of someone whose life had been brutally cut short in order to facilitate their replacement as part of the latest Mysteron plot. There were many Mysteron agents seen across both incarnations of Captain Scarlet, but here are five of our favourites from the original 1967 Supermarionation series!

Honourable mentions – Lunar Controller & Orson (Lunarville 7)

Earning themselves a joint honourable mention to start this list off are the controller of Lunarville 7 and his aide Orson. While memorable characters in their own right, this honourable mention comes for the fact that there is nothing in the episode Lunarville 7 to confirm that the two men are actually Mysterons. The Spectrum team are banned from bringing along a Mysteron detector that could have made an exact determination, leaving us with only the Lunar Controller’s declaration “You are fools, Earthmen!”, which could still easily just be the maniacal words of a human who considers the Moon a separate world entirely from the Earth – just the Controller was established to be at the beginning of the story! Linda Nolan later asserts in Crater 101 that “the Lunar Controller was a Mysteron agent” – although given the likely state of his remains after the destruction of Lunarville 7 how this could have been determined is a mystery.

The Lunar Controller solves his computer problems the way we’ve all dreamed of doing.

While it’s unlikely that that was the intention of writer Tony Barwick, it would certainly have been a unique twist on the regular Captain Scarlet formula for the guest villains to have been humans with Mysteron sympathies rather than another pair of standard Mysteron agents. Indeed, if it had been the case, the Controller and Orson’s motives and backstory suddenly become a lot more interesting – and raises the question of whether there were any other people on the Moon or Earth who believed in the Mysteron cause…

#5 – Eddie (Avalanche)

Assigned to service the air conditioning plants at bases of the Frost Line Outer Space Defence System in Canada, hapless truck driver Eddie is the perfect target for takeover by the Mysterons when they attempt to destroy those bases. After being suffocated beneath an avalanche (which we of course get to see in prolonged detail; this is Captain Scarlet after all!) Eddie is reborn on a mission to eliminate the personnel of those bases…and with anywhere from seventy to two-hundred-and-fifty men at each base, it’s safe to say Eddie is soon ranking up the kind of kill numbers that Captain Black could only dream of.

It’s amazing how helpful owning the right face and a screwdriver can be.

His success is due largely to the simplicity of the Mysteron plan itself, which takes advantage of the one obvious weakness in the protective domes of the Frost Line bases – but also of the staff’s familiarity with Eddie. Even with the bases on high alert, everybody knows good old Eddie and see no reason not to let him drive right on into the base – and the personnel pay for their trust in him with their lives.

#4 – Doctor Breck (Shadow of Fear)

One of the astronomers at K-14 observatory participating in the attempt to land a mini satellite on the Martian moon Phobos, Doctor Breck makes the mistake of looking at Mars through his telescope and is somehow killed by the Mysterons. Reconstructed under their control, Breck plants a bomb in the telescope rotation gear that will detonate when the aerial rotates to receive the satellite signal – and then lures Spectrum away from the observatory and into the Himalayan mountains to act as a decoy while this plan plays out…

Dr. Breck recommends you store your bombs in a safe place.

The only Mysteron agent to be voiced by Paul Maxwell (in his final Captain Scarlet episode) Doctor Breck earns a spot on this list for also being the only physical Mysteron guest agent to ever succeed in ensuring a total Mysteron victory. Other Mysteron victories over Spectrum involved colliding a reconstructed vehicle under their control directly into their target, but always without physical reconstructions of that vehicle’s original occupants. Breck however is used to destroy the K-14 observatory (and his human predecessor’s two colleagues) in a simple but brutally effective act of sabotage that proved a setback to the Earth’s efforts to learn more about the Mysterons. While other agents (like Eddie) caused a far greater loss of life before being thwarted Shadow of Fear ends on a far more downbeat note, suggesting that Spectrum are just as rattled by their own failures as we are to see them play out on screen!

#3 – Commodore Goddard (The Trap)

Killed in a plane crash during a freak electrical storm (along with his pilot Holt), Commodore Goddard had been assigned to oversee security at the International Air Conference. His Mysteron replacement takes up the same mission, relocating the conference to a remote castle in Scotland on the pretence of providing extra security – but in reality making it easier for the Mysterons to eliminate the conference delegates.

Although both Spectrum and the Mysterons demonstrate remarkable flaws in their thinking during The Trap (why do Spectrum allow Goddard to escort the delegates following Melody’s claim of seeing his plane hit by lightning, and why does Goddard insist on waiting until ten o’clock precisely to kill the delegates – thus giving Scarlet time to escape from his prison in the castle dungeon and stop him?), the episode remains a fan favourite and much of this is down to the wiliness of the Mysteron Commodore Goddard.

Whose solution to every obstacle seems to be “shoot it with the biggest machine gun we can find”.

The Mysteron agent even exhibits a rare moment of what appears to be genuine admiration for our hero (“You are a remarkable man, Captain Scarlet, I know.”) Although he is killed in the destruction of Glengarry Castle, he does at least achieve a minor victory by machine-gunning Captain Scarlet to death before being crushed by falling debris himself.

#2 – Mervin Brand (The Launching)

A reporter killed in a plane crash and reconstructed by the Mysterons to destroy President Roberts, Mervin Brand is notable for seeming to retain much more of his humanity as a Mysteron. Rarely do we see him behave in the traditionally robotic way of most Mysteron agents; he appears rather chatty – even cocky – in his conversations with Symphony and Harmony Angels, and later quite believable as an old friend of the shipping line executive. For once it lends the reveal of a Mysteron agent an element of tragedy, as the executive is shocked when Brand reveals his true intentions and has to be shot down by Scarlet.

Or maybe Brand was just aiming for the ultra-rare achievement of actually getting to hear Harmony speak.

In a rare example of the series acknowledging the ‘bullets don’t kill Mysterons’ rule it established with (and quickly forgot after) Spectrum Strikes Back, Brand soon rises again to complete his mission – and very nearly succeeds! Mervin Brand is also a particularly fine example of the skill of voice artist Gary Files; charming and personable in his dealing with humans, but with a venomous edge in his delivery when alone or once revealed as a Mysteron.

The puppet playing Brand was one of the few guest characters of the Captain Scarlet puppet era to have a secondary ‘blinking’ head created for it, created for its first role as Macey in Big Ben Strikes Again. This made him a popular casting choice for portraying characters who needed to be either killed or rendered unconscious across both Captain Scarlet and Joe 90.

And speaking of…

#1 – Captain Brown (The Mysterons)

Killed just moments after being assigned to protect the World President, Captain Brown earns himself the dubious honour of being (along with Captain Scarlet) the first human being we ever see Mysteronised on Earth. When we next see him after the fatal car crash the Mysteron Brown appears perfectly normal, only raising any (short-lived) suspicion when his cigarette case sets off a security alarm.

However, once he is safely in the bunker of the Maximum Security Center with the President, Charles Tingwell’s performance as Brown becomes more sinister, until finally the character falls silent altogether. The World President too is clearly uncomfortable by this odd behaviour…and then smoke begins billowing from Brown’s body, resulting in one of the show’s most memorable moments as the Mysteron agent explodes seconds later – albeit with a ‘stunt head’ substituted in place of the original. This Mysteron agent’s career may have been shortlived, but he definitely went out with a bang!

Captain Brown’s stunt double earning his pay.

As with Mervin Brand, the Captain Brown puppet was frequently chosen to portray Mysteron agents (including Major Reeves in Renegade Rocket, Professor Carney in Codename Europa, and Neilson in Noose of Ice) thanks to his blinking head allowing him to appear dead. This puppet also earned an agonised ‘I’ve just been shot’ head (possibly a revamped second blinker or smiling head) for his appearance in Codename Europa – an expression that only Captain Scarlet himself had ever previously displayed in the series!

With many more Mysteron agents to pick from across the thirty-two episodes of the Supermarionation Captain Scarlet it’s almost inevitable that we’ve missed off someone’s favourite – did yours make this list? If not, let us know in the comments why you feel they deserve a nomination!

Written by
Chris Dale

Writer, editor & voice actor on Big Finish's Doctor Who, Terrahawks, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet audio ranges. Host of the Randomiser on the Gerry Anderson Podcast.

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