In the pantheon of Gerry Anderson villains Captain Black is easily the most disturbing of all. Not only is he utterly ruthless in carrying out his missions for the Mysterons the occasional hints that something of the original man survives within the shell of his once-human body add a new dimension of horror to this walking nightmare. Whether you favor the soulless deep voiced Supermarionation original or his devilishly charismatic CGI counterpart, both versions of Captain Black have more blood on their hands than most other television villains can even dream of. Here are five examples of Captain Black at his very worst.
#5 – Instrument of Destruction
The first episode of New Captain Scarlet ends on a cliffhanger, one that not only re-establishes the ultra-violent tone of the series but also the utter ruthlessness of Captain Black. Posing as a limo driver to businessman Hank McGill Black instead drives to Gentleman George’s Auto Graveyard and parks in a car crusher. “This is a shortcut.” he tells McGill. “I’m cutting short your life.” As McGill pounds desperately on the window of the locked limo Black activates the controls of the crusher and a few moments later the car – and its unfortunate occupant – are reduced to a cube, from which the Mysterons reconstruct McGill to do their bidding.
This is a true standout in terms of Mysteronisation sequences because unlike the other moments on this list the horror comes more from what we don’t see rather than what we do. The roar of the crusher’s pistons and the blood-red rust beneath its flaking paintwork let our own imaginations fill in the horror for ourselves, as does the final terrible sight of that little cube. McGill’s death may have been horrible but at least we didn’t get to see it in close-up graphic detail.
Now let’s bring on the gore.
#4 – Expo 2068
This hapless Seneca worker spends his days maintaining the flow of remote control helicopters transporting materials to and from the Expo 2068 construction site. It can’t be an especially interesting job – until Captain Black arrives to spice up his day a bit.
Throughout the episode Black holds this poor man at gunpoint and forces him to transport a stolen nuclear reactor into the construction site. When Scarlet and Blue arrive to save the day Black realises his plans may be about to fall apart, so he beats a hasty retreat and leaves his hostage to tell Spectrum what happened.
No, I’m just kidding. Black shoots the guy.
What makes this one so uncomfortable is that there’s no reason to kill this guy beyond pure malice. He spends the whole episode in fear of his life, and in the end – yes, it turns out he was right to be afraid. Even if he did survive getting shot he falls face-first onto his damaged console, which erupts in a jet of flame. Nasty.
#3 – Seek and Destroy
Transporter driver Jackson makes a fatal mistake after delivering his cargo of Angel interceptors to a secret warehouse by giving in to his curiosity and taking a closer look at the crates. If he had left straight away he likely wouldn’t have run into Captain Black, looking more evil-awesome than ever in his black leather jacket and dark sunglasses. This scene is probably the closest the Supermarionation Black ever comes to exhibiting a sense of humour, when Jackson promises to keep his mouth shut and the Mysteron agent replies “I know you will, Earthman.” before shooting Jackson three times, throwing down a container of gasoline and torching the whole building.
It’s a wonderfully grim scene, and the shot of Black framed against the light from the warehouse door is a particularly striking one. It also serves as a perfect example of why you would never want to run into Captain Black in real life, as to even get into a conversation with him all but guarantees your remains will eventually end up having to be identified from your dental records.
#2 – Manhunt
Here’s one of the most famous Mysteronisation sequences in the history of the original series as Captain Black arrives in Stone Point Village and heads for the Delta petrol station where he knows an SPV is hidden. Inside is a car on a hydraulic lift being worked on by a mechanic, who politely asks Black to wait. Black, in his usual considerate fashion, cranks up on the volume on the mechanic’s radio to drown out the doomed man’s cries before activating the lift and ramming it into the garage roof.
While we’re not entirely certain that any garage incorporates car lifts designed to extend higher than the ceiling it really doesn’t matter. Unlike previous Mysteronisation sequences in the series, here we have a victim who knows they’re in serious trouble and is calling desperately for help – only for their cries to be drowned out by jolly music. The final shot of the dead mechanic in the remains of the car, blood pouring from his nose and lips as the Mysteron rings fade across his body, really highlight how nasty a death this is. Forget the just-in-time last minute heroics of Thunderbirds, this is something completely new and rather more adult than anything that had gone before.
#1 – Skin Deep
Some people may cry sacrilege, but we’re giving the top spot to the CGI Black’s crowning moment of evil. The Supermarionation Captain Scarlet was an exceptionally bloodthirsty show, but across its thirty-two episodes only three women were killed and reconstructed as Mysterons. Unfortunately, the Mysterons of the CGI show believed in equal opportunities.
In Skin Deep we meet Gina Martinelli, an expert thief who has been hired by Black to steal vital codes from the International Defence Headquarters. When the operation is complete she asks for her payment, and Black smirks knowingly. “Ah yes,” he replies, “the green stuff. I have some green stuff for you.”
And then he shoots her in the face at point-blank range.
Despite the fact that we don’t see any blood – her body actually lands with her head facing towards the camera, apparently unharmed – this is easily the most shocking death in the entire series because there’s absolutely no build-up to it. We’re not expecting Black to kill Gina because she’s already working for him anyway…but the moment she talks about leaving Black just literally executes her on the spot and that’s that, her body reformed into another mindlessly obedient servant of the Mysterons. It’s both utterly chilling and completely true to the spirit of a character that had already been haunting nightmares for decades.
Let us know in the comments below if we missed off your favourite Captain Black moment – or if any of the ones we did pick gave you sleepless nights!