Danger Man: s02 e03 – Fair Exchange

After just three episodes on the 1964 Danger Man, I find myself wondering if there was anything else being broadcast that long ago that was so intelligent and complex as this? It may be a straight thriller, but it keeps you on your toes, wondering where it’s going to go next.

‘Fair Exchange’ begins with a nervous young woman being followed in the streets of London. She looks and acts paranoid with, we will find, good reason, but she is being followed and she’s making increasingly desperate attempts to elude her pursuer. She ends up demanding entrance to a house in a quiet mews. The house belongs to her former friend and colleague, John Drake.

The story that unfolds shows the spy game from an angle you wouldn’t necessarily expect. The woman is Lisa Lanzing (played by American actress Lelia Golding, very attractive with her pale face and jet-black hair). Drake hasn’t seen her for ages and wants her to stay and talk. He also wants to help her escape her pursuers, by taking her in to his department, but she’s edgy, won’t stop, won’t accept more than minimal aid, and certainly won’t have anything to do with Gorton. Lisa is being followed, but it’s by Foster of Special Branch. Only, in her head it’s someone worse.

Lisa was an agent, and a very good one. But through her we see the danger of espionage, especially in the Cold War. She was on a mission in East Germany when she was captured. She was tortured for information, which she did not reveal. Eventually, she was exchanged back to the West. But she has been destroyed mentally. M9 have had her in a pstchiatric hospital since. She believes her tortuter, Ernst Pohlman, is having his men follow her everywhere, giving her no peace, no sanctuary. She intends to go to East Berlin and kill him.

Drake’s mission is to follow her, as her ‘husband’, John Shearer, a Canadian, and bring her back before she can stir things up that disastrously. He contacts the network within East Berlin, who find her for him, but Lisa won’t play, and he can’t make her. At least the network won’t supply her with Pohlman’s address.

Drake tries another tack, approaching security chief Colonel Otto Berg (Andre van Gyseghem, another future Prisoner alumnus – the retiring no. 2 in ‘It’s Your Funeral’). He’s relatively open about what he’s trying to do and Berg agrees to co-operate to avoid inflaming the situation. Only it’s a double-cross: Drake is to be deported, Lisa is fed the address and it becomes a question of whether Drake and his ally Pieter (James Maxwell) can get there first.

Drake arrives in time to stop Lisa from shooting – but not to prevent Berg’s son Wilhelm from killing Pohlman, ending years of rivalry with a handy British Agent scapegoat for a show trial. Very neat. Drake has to get Lisa out, paradoxically a more quiescent Lisa who, now she knows Pohlman is dead, may at last be able to heal. And Drake can be very neat too.

Pieter gets to West Berlin. He and Drake, on opposite sides of the Wall, set up a breakaway. Wilhelm Berg zealously pursues ‘Lisa’ into the West, but she’s a decoy and he’s under arrest. To get him back, Colonel Berg must agree an exchange of Agents. A fair exchange…

I’d never heard of or seen Lelia Goldoni before, but she impressed me. Times and fashions change, and attractive women of 1964 don’t have the same effect in 2020, but I’d have liked to have watched her in other things. Back then, I wouldn’t have noticed a thing, but then I was only 9. There’s a good chance an episode like this would have gone over my head, but it demonstrates the depth the series would go into to look at its dirty and dangerous game from another angle.

What else could have matched it then?

4 thoughts on “Danger Man: s02 e03 – Fair Exchange

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