53. Magic Mirror
Kelly Robinson falls in love with a beautiful agent, only to discover that she has become the mistress of a ruthless dictator who is scheming with the enemy to place ballistic missiles in his country.
French title: Le miroir de la vérité
Italian title: Lo specchio magico
Ricardo Montalban (General Vera), Virginia Grey (Grace), France Nuyen (Sam), Roy Jensen (Rochovsky), Ken Tobey (Gabe), John Rowell (Selkinov), Gene Benton (Petroff), Ken Martell (Bodyguard #1), Bob Bralver (Steward)
15 March 1967
Currently available on DVD
France Nuyen guest-starred in four episodes of I Spy and played three different characters. In this entry she reprises her role as American agent Sam, who had previously appeared in "The Tiger." This time Sam and Kelly Robinson have fallen in love. Or at least, Kelly thinks they have -- until he discovers that she is consorting with exiled dictator General Vera. He and Scotty are given the assignment of finding out whether Vera is scheming to return to power in his Latin American country. In fact, he's being backed by the enemy in return for his permission to place ballistic missiles in his country, a la Cuba. Or so it seems. The problem is, nothing is really as it seems. Does Sam really love Vera, or does she want to kill him for his heartless treatment of her aunt, his previous mistress? Is Vera serious about placing the missiles, or does he intend to doublecross his benefactors?
Robert Culp penned a taut, intelligent script that incorporates a tragically Shakespearean love story with a top notch spy thriller for Magic Mirror. Of all the romantic entanglements in I Spy, this one between Kelly and Sam rings most true. There is virtually no action or violence in the episode, and yet the tension builds nicely as our guys try to outwit Vera. One of the many twists at the end is that Vera manages to outwit them. "I hate to lose to that man," says Kelly. "We didn't lose," replies Scotty. "We just didn't win." That's putting the best possible face on a situation in which the agents survive only because the cunning general wishes to doublecross his missile-bearing benefactors, and intends to use American intelligence to achieve his aims. Ricardo Montalban is perfect for the role of the complicated, capable and crafty Vera, while France Nuyen's Sam is often inscrutable, her true motives enigmatic. But then, well-crafted characters and brilliant dialogue are trademarks of Culp's writing.