Kelly and Scotty intercept a heroin shipment, but the drug dealers want their product back, and kidnap Scotty for an exchange.
[Location: Hong Kong]
French title: Le perdant
German title: Einer muss verlieren
Italian title: Il perdente
Eartha Kitt* (Angel), Albert Paulsen (Ramon), Joseph Kim (General Chu), Mako (Jimmy), Linda Wong (Lily), Nancy Wong (Barbara), John Levingston (English Policeman), Larry Duran (Heavy), Vince Der (Guard), Raynum V. Tsukamoto (Old Man), Hans William Lee (Aide)
20 October 1965
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In Hong Kong, Scott is abducted by the drug dealer Ramon and his thugs and held in a back room of a seedy nightclub in the New Territories. Ramon wants to use him in an exchange -- Scott's life for Kelly's return of the drug shipment the two agents had previously intercepted. But General Chu, Ramon's superior, just wants Scott dead. Meanwhile, Kelly devises a daring rescue attempt -- that fails. Here he meets Angel, the world-weary, opium-addicted chanteuse who becomes a pawn in a life-and-death game of wits between Scott and Ramon; the former entices her to help him in an escape that fails, and later Ramon uses her in a scheme that involves staging Scotty's and (by now) Kelly's escape in hopes they will lead him to the shipment. Scott wants to carry out a rescue of his own -- to save Angel from the living hell of her life. The only problem is, she's too far gone, and doesn't want to be saved.
The Loser is the episode that is required viewing for anyone who wonders why Bill Cosby earned an Emmy for I Spy's first season. His performance is right on. Some credit should go to Robert Culp -- this is one of the best of his seven scripts. He resists resorting to cliches -- it's refreshing when Scott doesn't fall in love with Angel or vice versa; the motives behind his desire to save her are much more sophisticated -- and realistic -- than that. And it's a nice twist that Angel refuses to be saved. The failure of Kelly's rescue attempt because his legs have fallen asleep -- he'd had himself crammed into the barrel that was supposed to contain the heroin shipment -- is another nice touch. The characters of Ramon and Angel are finely crafted; Eartha Kitt earned an Emmy nomination of her own for her portrayal of a truly lost soul. If there's a shortcoming here it's that time ran out -- the ending seems rushed. But that's a minor thing in what is, all in all, one of the best first season entries.
* Eartha Kitt earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Drama
Henry Molin earned an Eddie nomination for Best Edited Television Program for this episode.