Killer Whale (Episode 02-26, March 1963).
Killer Whale, the final episode of Season 2, takes Steed and Cathy into the underground world of boxing and its unlikely connection to the perfume trade. Steed has discovered a possible link between the boxing ring belonging to ‘Pancho’ Driver (Patrick Magee) and the illegal smuggling and sale of ambergris, a key ingredient in the production of perfume. Steed enlists Cathy and her young boxing protege Joey (Ken Farrington) to infiltrate Pancho’s ring and discover who’s doing the smuggling and how. Meanwhile, the bowler-hatted one draws the more cushy job of hanging around a perfumier and fashion designer’s establishment, under the guise of obtaining a wardrobe for his “niece,” to see where the ambergris is actually going. This being The Avengers, complications naturally arise, including murder, imprisonment, and the use of Cathy’s judo skills.
In some ways, Killer Whale is a last hurrah for the more underworld-themed episodes of Season 2. Season 3 will be a bit more refined – though not without its deviations – and occupied far more with the British upper-classes. As such, Killer Whale is a nice transition, with the charming Joey facing off against the less-charming Pancho, and expanding upon the connections between a criminal underworld and the clean-cut upper world of fashion designers.
Although the boxing angle is quite fun, the best parts of Killer Whale take place at the perfumier’s. Steed has a slightly tense tete-a-tete with a posh young man who keeps referring to him as “sport” – another chance to underscore class conflict, as the same young man turns out to be the most vicious criminal of the bunch – as well as the chance to make eyes at the attractive young models wandering around. Steed certainly draws the plumb job on this one, his not-inconsiderable charm in full force right alongside his inherent ruthlessness. Cathy meanwhile has to do the dirty work, which usually gets her either imprisoned or tied up.
Killer Whale concludes the second season on a fairly high note, with our two heroes getting along pretty well (and Cathy moved into a brand new apartment). When they return in Season 3, two against the criminal factions, they’ll do so with slightly less conflict but, oddly enough, slightly more distrust. Season 3 will feature Steed possibly turning traitor more than once, and a tightening of their friendship that will make them, in the end, the most complicated relationship that The Avengers will ever feature.