Honey for the Prince
"I haven't yet exhausted reality." —Emma Peel
"Honey for the Prince" is the greatest episode of The Avengers ever! And what does it matter, since so many of them are? Exquisitely produced increments of pure Pop pleasure presented for our perusal. Yet what is it that distinguishes this outstanding episode from other outstanding episodes? Aside from capping off an entire season of unparalleled telefantastic TV, this follow-up to "A Touch of Brimstone" kinkiness and forefather to "The Fear Merchants" backside money shot gives us a truly defining moment in the premiere series of the Swinging Sixties.
43 minutes and 26 seconds into the show, the motion begins. Emma Peel, dressed as a harem girl, walks away from camera and reaches to adjust her bikini bottoms. With an authoritative thrust, she yanks them upwards, displaying her womanly shape with forceful confidence and introducing young male viewers to perhaps their first unexpurgated view of true feminine power. This lovely interlude, sustained for all but a second, falls to the Earth at the 43:27 mark, but the afterglow remains burned into the picture tube and etched into the brainslates of red-blooded males the world over.
This precisely framed space in time is not only precious for the sheer carnal delight it offers, but for its deeper expression of the Liberated Woman. Emma treads that fine line of dignity and freedom, standing her ground, getting her way but not letting us forget that she is definitely a woman. Her modern femininity does not prohibit this lusty display of her body, but redefines its offering. The slave girl/indentured wife model is played now as the power position, holding men sway while she gets to her objective. Instead of viewing herself as demeaned, she also holds them in contempt, defiantly thrusting her rear in their faces and establishing who is really in control. If she fails, the Prince will die.
Emma un-peeled, she sets the standard straight: women should not conceal their bodies as they do in male-dominated cultures, where even a naked face is a crime—unless that is their choice.
Of course, "Honey for the Prince" offers so many things to the viewer: great bad guys, cool sets, good humor and wild ideas. Vincent East is a strangely fey but silently effective no-nonsense killer, while Arkadi sets a new high in villainous debauchery, receiving what appears to be a week-long sensual massage. Arkadi and his opposite, John Steed, are both easily distracted by the lure of beautiful ladies, allowing the scent of sex to ensnare them. If they want to find a level head, they have to look upwards at Emma Peel.
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2001 Jonathan Woods. All Rights Reserved.
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