Series 1
First Principles
A Proper Function of Government
Is Your Journey Really Necessary?
The Most Suitable Person
Always Glad to Help
A Feasible Solution
Special Relationship

Series 2
At All Costs
Enough of Ghosts
Decision by Committee
A Question of Loyalty
It Couldn't Happen Here
Operation Kingmaker

Series 3
All in a Good Cause
To Hell With Justice
Unusual Approach
My Name is Anna Wiseman
Sometimes We Play Dirty Too
Who Needs Enemies
Opposite Numbers

Opposite Numbers
‘One man can’t change the world, Neil.’

A major arms control treaty is being negotiated. Wellingham is pushing hard for the agreement, and so is the government. Burnside opposes the talks. He argues passionately that the Soviets should not be trusted. Despite his opposition, the government presses ahead.

He wants to scuttle the talks.

A KGB major who has been passing secrets to the west for a decade wants to be lifted. He could probably wait a week or month with no harm, but defecting now might well cause enough ill will to sink the treaty.

The trouble is, the Soviets leadership want the treaty to go ahead. When their major goes missing, they confront Peele, and ask why MI6 is being so tactless. Peele decides to return the major. Yet, it seems someone in the KBG agrees with Burnside. The sands suddenly start moving very, very quickly, and move to a sudden surprising conclusion.

Comment
What an ending for The Sandbaggers! Opposite Numbers is both thrilling and frustrating. Patrick McGoohan at least had the opportunity to film a conclusion for The Prisoner. Maybe it wasn’t the most comprehensible conclusion, but it was a conclusion nonetheless. Fans of The Sandbaggers, alas, have a cliffhanger in lieu of a conclusion.

Imagine if Babylon 5 had ended with the episode Severed Dreams.

Still, Opposite Numbers is one of the best episodes in the series and an appropriately frustrating end to the series. Burnside’s subtle form of suicide is suspenseful and gripping, Matthew Peele finally redeems himself, and the last few moments are terribly, horribly exciting.

Inside Burnside
In a rare moment of self-revelation, Burnside shares his frustrations - ‘There’s nothing I can do about anything’ - with Jeff Ross. Later, Burnside and Willie discuss their similarity to ‘an old married couple.’

Burnside can speak at least a little Russian, as revealed when he introduces himself to Nikolai Sarkisyan. Our D-Ops isn’t fond of defectors, not even East-to-West defectors: he tells Willie not to ‘shed tears’ for Major Yuri Filatov.

Sense of style
In To Hell With Justice, Burnside wore a dark suit in Malta. He probably was really uncomfortably warm, so in this episode he wears a much cooler cream-colored suit while in Malta.

Production note
The scene in which Burnside walks down the hotel hallway, with the camera alternating between shots of his head and feet, is reminiscent of the title sequence of that other great intelligent cult British television drama series, The Prisoner.

Personnel file
Last of two appearances by Len Shepard (now promoted to Head of Station in Malta). Last of two appearances by D-Int Paul Dalgetty. Last appearance of, well, everyone who’s left!