“The Mysterons: sworn enemies of Earth. Possessing the ability to recreate an exact likeness of an object or person. But first, they must destroy…”
The Martian antagonists of Captain Scarlet followed an almost ritualistic process when embarking on their attacks against humanity; first they would make their threat of the week, and then we would be introduced to a guest character or two who would soon become Mysteron agents in order to carry out their latest plan. In order to take them over however the unfortunate victim had to be killed off first, and the show took great delight in subjecting these poor unfortunates to sudden death in a variety of ways; car crash, plane crash, drowning, suffocating, crushing, exploding, and more. It’s in these Mysteronisation sequences that we find some of the show’s greatest moments of violence and horror – and here are our picks for the top five scariest Mysteronisation sequences!
#5 Eddie (Avalanche)
This maintenance truck driver responsible for servicing the air conditioning of the sealed domes that make up Northern Canada’s Frost Line Defence System turns out to be a perfect target for takeover by the Mysterons, following a collision that forces his truck off the road and causes an avalanche which buries the poor man alive. Eddie’s death under a mountain of snow is one of those moments of Captain Scarlet violence that you can’t quite believe the show managed to get away with, as we watch the unfortunate driver buried alive and suffering a slow suffocation. Appropriately enough, suffocation is exactly the same death his Mysteron replacement then causes for over three hundred personnel at the Red Deer and Cariboo bases – many of whom were Eddie’s friends.
Although we don’t spend much time with Eddie prior to his Mysteronisation, we can tell from the way the base personnel greet him that this was clearly an easy-going man that everyone felt comfortable around – making him a perfect way for the Mysterons to infiltrate and disable the Frost Line bases. Thus, the sight of him waving for help as he is smothered by the avalanche until first only his hand remains visible, and then nothing at all, retroactively becomes even more poignant than it already was.
#4 – Soames (White as Snow)
This hapless crewman aboard the USS Panther II makes the mistake of being up on deck when the submarine’s captain gives the order to dive – and the even greater mistake of stepping into a chain loop that mysteriously (or should that be Mysteroniously?) tightens fast around his leg, rendering him unable to reach safety before his vessel submerges!
As with several entries on this list, what makes this death so disturbing is that we spend time with the victim right up until the last moments of their life. We’re with Soames as he hears the order to dive, we see him struggling in vain to free his foot, we see him pounding on the entry hatch and calling for help as water rises around him – and we even get a brief shot of him being dragged beneath the water to certain death. We’re familiar enough with Captain Scarlet as a series by this point to know that this is how the Mysteronisation process works and that Soames has precisely zero chance of escape, but rarely is the terror of their victims and the futility of their struggle conveyed so strongly than here.
#3 – Mechanic (Special Assignment)
When it comes to useful Mysteron victims, garage mechanics are a particularly popular target for Captain Black. The episode Manhunt sees him crushing one against the roof of his own filling station while the poor man cries out in vain for help, but we’re giving this slot to the mechanic from the episode Special Assignment who meets a similarly sticky end when Captain Black arrives in his car.
Making the mistake of asking Black to “back her up just a little”, the mechanic is then knocked down and crushed as the Mysteron agent backs his entire car over the man. Shane Rimmer performs the character’s physical agony so believably that it conveys the full horror of this action without us actually having to see the car rolling over his body, all of which is underscored by the jolly strains of the White as Snow theme playing on his radio. We then cut to the crushed radio under the wheel of the now-stationary car, lying along the arm of the fallen mechanic; the blood pouring from his wrist suggesting an equally mangled body. While some might argue the death of the mechanic in Manhunt is more gruesome considering that we actually see his face in death, the Special Assignment mechanic’s death also lingers in the mind precisely because we don’t – and our imaginations are left to do their worst.
#2 – Doctor Magnus (Operation Time)
Several Mysteron victims met their deaths via car crash (including Captain Scarlet himself), and yet Captain Black’s pursuit and eventual murder of Doctor Magnus must rank as one of the scariest. The brain surgeon narrowly misses being shot by the Mysteron agent while waiting at a red light, and as he races to escape the scene takes on the air of a slasher movie, with Black cast in the role of the unstoppable killer.
This surprisingly lengthy scene also takes on an additional unsettling element by placing the viewer with Magnus throughout, and not showing Black’s face until after the fatal crash. We know exactly who is trying to kill Magnus, but he does not; he only knows someone is actively trying to murder him for seemingly no reason, and that his only hope of survival relies on him saving himself. From the shock of sudden unexpected violence entering this man’s life, to a shared sense of relief that Magnus might just have managed to elude his pursuer, to the final fatal crash itself, this entire sequence is superbly directed and edited, and shows once and for all that Captain Black is absolutely relentless in pursing his quarry.
#1 – The Delta Tango 19 crew and passengers (Winged Assassin)
Responsible for giving many young viewers a lifelong phobia of flying, the crash of the DT.19 tops our list of terrifying Mysteron kills. In only its second episode, Captain Scarlet was keen to establish that it wasn’t only the members of Spectrum who were at risk from the show’s Martian aggressors; anybody in any profession anywhere on Earth was a possible target to be taken over.
From the moment Captain Black watches the massive passenger jet take off from New York we know the aircraft is doomed, and yet seeing its engines and systems fail one by one – much to the alarm and confusion of the crew – is still a shock. Thankfully we don’t get an exact idea of how passengers were on the plane (although with two floors of seating we could potentially be talking several hundred) as we only see the pilot and co-pilot, but the sweat on the brows of their terrified faces and their silence as the aircraft takes a nosedive into the sea says more than any words ever could. What makes all this especially chilling is that ultimately the Mysterons needed none of the people on the plane at all; they only needed the machine itself in order to achieve their objective. The DT.19 simply happened to be in the right place at the right time for their purposes…unlike her crew and passengers.
With thirty-two episodes of Captain Scarlet there was no shortage of Mysteron murders to pick from for this list – but did we choose your favourite? If not, let us know which ones we missed in the comments below!