Just a few observations to get some discussion going. I will try not to
repeat topics that have been already covered here.
(1) In episode 12 - It's Couldn't Happen Here, in the final scene Burnside
makes an elaborate speech to Wellingham about why assassinaiton shouldn't
happen in the UK--once you have opened the door you can't close it, etc.
Then he walks over to Willie and they begin discussing the plan to
assassinate Stratford-Baker in Singaporet. My questions are: Is the speech
just a con to convince Wellingham he is being a good boy? Does he believe
that as long as it isn't done on British soil it is okay? Or is he just
being his usual paradoxical self--unaware that he has just said one thing
and intends to do the opposite?
(2) The character of Burnside continues to fascinate. I love it that it is
only the women (Diane, Maryann, Karen) who are able to tell him the truth
about himself, even though he refuses to hear it. One interesting thing
about Burnside is that the truth (usually about himself) makes him angry.
Whenever his friends (or enemies) try to help him he resents it.
(3) The most (perhaps the only?) admirable trait about Burnside is his
loyalty to the Sandbaggers. This, of course, is double-edged, since he will
cause havoc and, in the case of Alan Denson, cause suicide, to keep them and
protect them. This example shows that the true motive is often a selfish one.
(4) I think this may have been discussed before but let me say it again. I
think the relationship with Laura was good for Neil because she was in "the
business." It wouldn't have worked otherwise. Belinda obviously had no
concept of what he did, although I'm sure that was the least of their
problems. His whole attitude towards women is so appalling I don't even want
to get into it.
(5) Speaking of Belinda, one of the saddest and most revealing scenes in the
series was when Jean Wellingham observed to Neil that she knew he and
Belinda had loved each other once because it showed. And it is pathetic how
both Wellinghams want him back, for Belinda' sake, so much. I'd say she's
better off without him.
(6) Peele is such an interesting character as he fluctuates from wish-washy
to occasional insight and control. He's obviouslsy in the wrong job, but
intends to stay for the perks.
(7) John Tower Gibbs stresses in one episode (can't remember which) the fact
that Burnside is old paradigm, a fact that Burnside himself acknowledges in
the final episode. Gibbs makes it clear in this that the days of the cowboy
are over and that war is not the way of the future--learning to get along
is. Burnside can't hear this because he hates the Russians so much.
(8) Finally, the seeming death-wish (in terms of losing the job) that
Burnside has is maddening at times. He seems to do himself in deliberately,
but then they always give him another chance. I think it's because they all
know he's good, if often foolish, and also because he will take the chances
they dare not take themselves. One thing he has that they do not is the
ability to see ahead to the possibility of success, where they only seem to
be able to concentrate on what might go wrong.
I could go on, but hopefully this will spark some ideas and insights from you.