Welcome, I hope you enjoy being one of the addicted. You will be
afflicted for the rest of your life.
> Just a few observations to get some discussion going. I will try not to
> repeat topics that have been already covered here.
Go on, repeat them. If you want to discuss them, then do so. I'm
sure that others will join in.
> (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?
I believe that Neil knows exactly what he is doing. He tells
Wellingham the speech all the while knowing that he will have Stratford-Baker
assassinated. Neil is protecting himself, but even more he is protecting
HMG. Plausible denialbility. Whether or not Wellingham knows he is being
feed a liine by Neil or not is something I go back and forth on whenever I
rewatch the episode. Wellingham is very astute when Neil tries to manipulate
him, but this time he seems to be buying Neil's statement.
> (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.
I disagree that only the women can tell him the truth about himself.
The male charcaters do as well, but in a different way. Wellingham's speech
about "mirror images", any of the Sir James Greenly's talks to Neil about how
he runs his department, J.T. Gibbs' verbal dueling with Neil. These are couched
for the most part in professional terms, but the do point out Neil's failings
and his good points.
Finally there is Willie. Willie has little problem making Neil confront
the truth about himself. They are close friends. That is why I never tire of
the scene between Willie and Neil in "Special Relationship" following the
incident at the checkpoint. No one but Willie could say that to Neil.
> (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.
Maybe, but Neil was right about Alan Denson. Just as Neil was right
about the dissident movement in the U.S.S.R. and the need to confront the
KGB on realistic terms and fully-funded by HMG.
Neil's methods range from smart to one-step from starting a major
war, but rarely are his decisions wrong. That is what makes him so intriguing
> (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.
But then his attitude toward just about everyone is appalling. It is
not just women who get the Burnside Treatment.
> (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.
And Neil is better off without her. Especially if she is anything
like Lady Wellingham.
> (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.
I am afraid that you are wrong here. Peele is in the right job. He
does his job quite well and is played to perfection by the actor.
> (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.
Yes, but Gibbs' (and Whitehall's) way is wrong as well. They prefer
to fight the war against the KGB by pretending the threat doesn't exist because
it is more expedient politically in the short-run to do so. Neil is an old-line
warrior who is out of touch with the current political mood, but that does not
mean that his fight is won and he just refuses to recognize it. If we should
learn to get along, why the KGB moles in British Government?
> (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.
Neil also has principles and convictions that he refuses to compromise.
His superiors don't like that because that leads to trouble. They see getting
along with the Soviets as more important than fighting the threat the Soviets
present. Why is that better?