Intercrime (Episode 02-15, January 1963).
Intercrime marks The Avengers’ foray into a Murder, Inc. style plot. Steed cons Cathy, as usual, into infiltrating a criminal organization. First he gets her arrested, then she switches places with a vicious German assassin. Her assignment is basically to infiltrate the organization, find out what they’re up to, and report back. This being The Avengers, things get complicated quickly and Cathy finds herself in the middle of an attempted coup by Intercrime’s second-in-command. Steed, meanwhile, gets the easy part, chatting up beautiful blondes and trying to avoid being shot in the head by his own partner.
Intercrime is (I think) the first appearance of Kenneth J. Warren, who will go on to be one of the most recognizable ‘doppelgängers’ in The Avengers (actors who appear in multiple episodes playing different roles). Warren is Felder, one of the leaders of Intercrime, and a deliciously enjoyable, even likable villain. While he might get more to do in his memorable turn as crazed film director Z.Z. von Schnerk in the Emma Peel episode Epic, he’s still interesting to watch. The entire episode, in fact, boasts of good character performances, particularly Julia Arnall as the assassin Hilda Stern.
Macnee and Blackman are, as always, tons of fun. Blackman gets a bit more to do in this episode, putting on a fake German accent, trying to defend the life of a criminal in trouble with Intercrime, and attempting to bluff her way through when the assassin she’s replaced turns up alive and well. Macnee also gets a few good moments as he tries to convince the girlfriend of one of Intercrime’s leaders that she’s in danger, and laying it on thick as Cathy’s supposed attorney. The episode is nicely balanced between the two of them, although it doesn’t do much to showcase their chemistry.
Intercrime falls short of being a favorite episode of mine – there’s not enough humor or Steed/Cathy repartee, but it’s a fun outing, and a slightly more serious/believable plot line.