The Mysterons – sworn enemies of Earth. Possessing the ability to recreate an exact likeness of an object or person. But first, they must destroy…
It has been 49 years since the Mysterons issued their first threats from our televisions. Originally conceived as a standard villain for the show, Gerry Anderson decided to try something different to give the series a more unique feel. Thus the Mysterons became a malevolent, non corporeal force that could turn our own people and technology against us.
Over the course of Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons and later Gerry Anderson’s New Captain Scarlet, we see two very different sides of the same foe. With the announcement of New Captain Scarlet’s upcoming release in Australia, now is a great time to examine and compare The Mysterons in each series.
Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons
Our first encounter with the Mysterons is a turbulent one when their attempts to examine the Zero-X Martian Excursion Vehicle are misinterpreted as an attack (though in fairness, had they appeared as a group of adorable puppies waving white flags, the Zero-X crew would probably still have blown them up, given Earth’s track record). The Mysterons reverse the destruction of their own complex with effortless ease and take over Captain Black, vowing revenge and the death of the World President.
Throughout their first engagement with Spectrum, we get a showcase of many of the powers that the Mysterons possess. They cause the wheel of a Spectrum Patrol Car to explode, killing Captains Scarlet and Brown. They use their powers of Retro-metabolism™ to recreate them and manipulate them on a microscopic level. Captain Brown becomes an extremely powerful bomb and only just fails to assassinate the President. Scarlet rather inexplicably tries to capture him instead, leading to a final battle atop the London Car Vu, from which Scarlet falls to his death (his second of many). The Mysterons also are able to take over a Spectrum helicopter, which is destroyed by Destiny Angel.
The manner of Scarlet’s death seems to free him from Mysteron control, while also retaining the power to retro-metabolise himself in the event of catastrophic injury or death.
As the show goes on the Mysterons continue to wage their “War of Nerves” against humanity, ignoring all attempts to negotiate or communicate. We learn more about them as the story progresses. Mysteron replicants are impervious to x-rays and electricity can weaken Mysteron powers and potentially kill Scarlet. They are not as omnipotent as they seem, as they mistakenly replicate someone who is still alive and are later unable to differentiate between their replicant and the original template.
Captain Black also repeatedly turns up, overseeing plans and causing mayhem. Unlike the other replicants, Black is practically a zombie with none of his original personality remaining.
The Mysterons also exhibit some unusual eccentricities.
They always broadcast a cryptic message about their plans in advance, they only target one thing at a time and they always drop their plans if their attempt fails, usually when one or all of their replicants are killed.
They are also inexplicably discerning in the way that they choose to use their powers. They have no problem disabling aircraft engines or changing the molecular structure of machine parts, yet they never try this against blatantly obvious targets, namely Cloudbase.
A theory into their unusual behaviour may lie in the shows original plans. Originally, the idea was that the Mysterons would have been machines and the retro-metabolism powers would have been replacing their victims with robotic duplicates. The comics bear this out with Scarlet actually meeting the central Mysteron computer. If the Mysterons are in fact the remnants of a long dead alien race, then this could potentially explain the very slow and methodical way they wage their conflict against the people of Earth.
The Mysterons in New Captain Scarlet on the other hand are a different story.
Gerry Anderson’s New Captain Scarlet
The set up is pretty much the same as in the original series. Scarlet and Black are taken over, Scarlet is released from his control after trying to destroy Skybase by falling through a power conduit. Black is sent out into the world to cause mayhem and destruction.
These Mysterons act in a very different manner to their classic counterparts however.
From the get go there is malice in their words, they clearly view humanity as a lower life-form to be exterminated and they pull no punches. After their attempt to destroy Skybase, they bring together nuclear material in an attempt to cause an explosion that would destroy the world. They use their powers to alter rain water to induce paranoid psychosis, create walking plague carriers, manipulate swarms of robots, even cause the crew of Skybase to hallucinate.
The replicants themselves act very differently, they operate in cells, undertaking terrorist-like missions, they can be identified by a DNA test and when their job is done they simply vanish.
Black himself, instead of a zombie-like figure, is now a twisted version of his former self, with his old flare and humour still present, there is an impression that the old Conrad is very much still in there.
The Mysteron behaviour is easier to explain here as it is discussed in the show itself. In the episode The Achilles Messenger, a Mysteron replicant claims to be from a separate faction inside the Mysteron consciousness. A “good” faction that disagrees with the war of nerves. This could explain again, why the Mysterons don’t just annihilate us using the most basic of their powers, if there are two opposing factions holding the full force of their powers back.
Either way it is clear that the Mysterons are an iconic foe that have stood the test of time. We brought them back ourselves last year for a fun little video, you can check that out here!
What are your favourite Mysteron threats? Let us know in the comments!