| Production 41231|
Original Airdate: 20 April 1975
Lionel E. Siegel
Joe L. Cramer
Paul & Margaret Schneider
Martine Beswick as Julia Flood
Richard Erdman as Sylvester Slayton
Gavan O'Herlihy as Dan
David Frankham as Captain Abbott
Alan Caillou as General Carmichael
William Sylvester as Frederick Collins
Richard O'Brien as Breen
Margaret Fairchild as Mrs. Elinor Collins
Unknown Actor as Jessica
|← Previous||Next →|
|"The Bionic Woman (Part II)"||"Steve Austin, Fugitive"|
While at a NATO briefing in Brussels, US Consul Frederick Collins begins to relay information about his promising negotiations with the Independent Balinderry Army, Unit 10. It appears that the first steps to peace in the Dominion of Balinderry have been successfully taken, when he learns that his wife has been kidnapped by forces purported to be associated with Unit 10. Oscar calls Washington for advice on what the US can do to help its ambassador. When they tell him that no US forces are to be engaged in any attempt to help Mrs. Collins, Steve balks. The message from the IBA says that there are only 14 hours left before they will kill Mrs. Collins. He thus sets off for Balinderry, claiming that he is not officially representing the US.
A mysterious, hand-written note is the only clue to Mrs. Collins' whereabouts. It proposes a meeting with "Commander 10", leader of the faction that appears to have kidnapped the ambassador's wife. En route, he meets a Balinderry Airline stewardess named Julia Flood, who appears to have knowledge of the IBA. They make contact with the IBA in a warehouse. After they reveal themselves to be part of Unit 10, Sylvester Slayton — their apparent leader — disavows any knowledge of the kidnapping. He and his subordinate, Dan, claim to have been framed by more radical elements within the IBA. Furthermore, they purport to have an actual witness to the kidnapping.
Steve doesn't understand why they didn't just go to the Dominion Army with the witness to clear their Unit's name, and to help Mrs. Collins. Julia explains their rationale. Unit 10's credibility would be stronger, she asserts, if Steve — a well-respected international figure, with no interest in Balinderry's civil strife — would deliver the witness himself.
Unit 10 get the signal that the witness is ready for interrogation. The "witness" turns out to be Jessica, a local flower woman who happened to be passing by the US Consulate at the time of the kidnapping. She claims, to Dan's amazement, that the kidnapper was actually Slayton.
Back at the Unit 10 headquarters, Steve, Slayton and Julia come under attack by forces of the Dominion Army. To avoid being detected "conspiring" with the enemy, Steve initially tries to fight back from the shadows. He thinks he manages to clear a path out of the scene for he and Julia to escape, but ends up walking into a nest of Dominion Army personnel. Dan watches helplessly from the background.
Steve and Julia are taken to the police department but remain in custody of the Army. At the station, Steve is charged with "aiding and abetting insurrection". He calls Oscar try to figure out what to do. When Oscar points out that the arraignment alone will take a couple of days, Steve asks for more direct help, if possible. Mrs. Collins has mere hours left before she'll be assassinated. Oscar promises to call some people to see if he can expedite the problem.
Meanwhile, Slayton calls for the Army commander to come to his cell. General Carmichael initially sees Slayton's conversation as a waste of his time, but then Slayton offers the name of "Commander Ten" in exchange for his freedom. The general is suddenly more interested.
Back in the police headquarters waiting room, await Carmichael's arrival. Initially, he seems to soften the Army's line toward the duo, saying that it their first contact with the IBA. He seems especially sympathetic towards Steve, almost implying that he'll let Steve go with a warning. However, when he comes to speak to Julia directly, he pointedly asks her, " . . . this is the first time you've rubbed shoulders with [the IBA], isn't it?" She nods, but then he says that he has information that she, in fact, is Commander Ten. He asserts that she makes the perfect IBA leader, because her cover as a stewardess lets her travel broadly to get financing and weapons from abroad.
Carmichael leaves to prepare a private cell for her, and in the meantime, she admits to Steve that she is Commander Ten. Steve struggles with the information, but eventually appears to understand it. As she's taken away to her cell, Carmichael ushers Ambassador Franklin in, then leaves the two Americans to talk in private. Steve asks Franklin to persuade the General to let him talk to Julia in her cell. Once there, he asks Julia how to make contact with other IBA members, so that he can continue the search for the ambassador's wife. She says he'll have to go through Dan. But, she says, only she can take him to Dan. Understanding that he's about to clearly break the law, he uses his bionics to spring them both out of jail.
They go to wait to make contact with Dan. While in the car, they talk about the pressures of her leadership, and the reasons why she's never visited America. She says that if she went, she'd be tempted to stay and abandon her men. When steve suggests that maybe she can do just that, "when all this is over", she smiles. So few people in her world think the civil war ever can end. She kisses him.
Their romantic interlude is interrupted by Dan, who tells Julia that it was, in fact, Slayton who did the kidnapping. He says that he trailed Slayton to Crego Dam, which alarms Julia. Crego Dam, it turns out, is run by Lord Breen, the head of a more radical IBA faction. The implication is that Slayton has been Breen's mole in Julia's organization. Indeed the whole plan is made horribly clearer by this new information. It means that Mrs. Fredericks will be killed, regardless of the Dominion government response. The object of kidnapping her was merely to discredit Unit 10, thereby ending any chance for dialogue — and, more importantly, peace — between the IBA and the government.
The trio race of to Crego Dam. There, Steve effects a bionic rescue. Along the way, a Dominion Army sentry guard alerts Carmichael that the base is under attack. Soon, Steve's rescue is complicated by the presence of Carmichael's men, who are trying to trap Breen into a corner. Steve fears this will result in Breen making good on his threat to kill Fredericks. He speeds off to try to catch up with Breen, Slayton and Frederics. The Dominion Army sharpshooters take out Slayton, but Steve catches up to Breen. Steve subdues Breen before any harm can come to the ambassador's wife.
In the aftermath of the battle, Steve promises the injured Dan that he'll try to confince the Balinderry governmet to deal with Unit 10. He asks if Julia was picked up by the Army. Dan says that she got away. Steve smiles and says, "Good".
On his flight back to America, Steve pulls a letter out of his pocket. It's from Julia. She writes that she knows he's been trying to find her, but she realizes she must stay and help her people continue the good fight. He hears the voice of a stewardess behind him, and thinks its her. When he calls out "Julia!", though, she turns to reveal a different face than he was expecting. He apologizes, and returns to his seat, contemplating the loss of yet another love.
The IBA, or Independent Balinderry Army, is a not-so-thinly veiled analogue of the real-world Irish Republican Army. Not only are obvious, if perhaps clichéd, Irish accents used by the Balinderrians, but stock footage of British troop movements in Northern Ireland appears to be used for establishing shots. Later footage shows a tank bearing the label of the Royal Engineers. The RE is a Corps of 15 regiments within the British Army.
The fictional nature of Balinderry wasn't enough to prevent this episode from being banned from broadcast in Great Britain. 
Julia Flood: Do you know who Commander Ten in the I.B.A. is?
Steve Austin: No I don't.
Julia Flood: He's the most mysterious hunted figure in the I.B.A. His deeds are legendary with the people. There are songs about him.
Steve Austin: Why didn't you tell me, Julia?
Julia Flood: That disease we're all suffering from on this little island, it's called mistrust.
Steve Austin: That must be tough for you being the boss of all the men in Unit Ten?
Julia Flood: You're right, it was a big responsibility. Are you the boss of a lot of men in America?
Steve Austin: No, just one: me.
General Carmichael: We don't make deals with terrorists, Colonel Austin. We imprison them, or execute them.
Steve Austin: I won't let you execute his hostage!
- This is the third episode of the season with no Cold Open.
- The world map shown during the NATO briefing reveals that the world Steve Austin inhabits is physically very different from the real world. Aside from the existence of fictional countries established in previous episodes, not to mention Balinderry in this one, the map shows that the northern portion of North America is shaped completely differently than the way it is for real, and that there appears to be an extra continent to the north of Eurasia.
- Martine Beswick had once co-starred opposite Sean Connery in the James Bond film Thunderball. Several years after this episode was made, her co-star, Gavan O'Herilhy, would appear in another Bond film with Sean Connery, Never Say Never Again - a remake of Thunderball.
- That an American celebrity such as astronaut and USAF Colonel Steve Austin can somehow act in Balinderry without representing the US is extremely curious. As the episode makes clear later, he is a "global" figure — known as a member of the US military. It seems improbable non-Americans would believe he was acting in an unofficial capacity. On the other hand, there is little practically that Oscar could have done, in the moment, to have stopped Steve.
- Because this episode was produced before the "Bionic Woman" two-parter but aired after, it creates a credibility issue for Steve. Far from confirming his grief over the loss of his fiancé, this episode seems to downplay the importance of Jaime by showing Steve easily falling in love with a stranger. On the other hand, Steve's profound "serial monogamy" is present at many other junctures in the series; it seems part of Steve's nature to love deeply, then move on.
- Although the series has featured fictional countries before, the creation of "Balinderry" in lieu of the real-life Northern Ireland may stretch suspension of disbelief a bit too far, given the obvious Irish characters, and the use of stock footage of British troops from the real-life conflict. This is also amplified that the episode features a real-life foreign location, Brussels, and a real-life organization, NATO.