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TWO THUMBNAIL SKETCHES OF NAPOLEON AND ILLYA
by Theresa Kyle
Mr. Waverly, in "Deep Six," describes Napoleon as having "intelligence, verve, physical prowess, the kind of man most women would find very attractive...but probably the worst possible candidate for marriage." This is an excellent summation.
There is a mystery connected with Napoleon’s past—or several mysteries. Napoleon tells a woman in "To Trap a Spy" (and in a parallel scene in "Four Steps") that he’s from Kansas; in contradiction, his MGM bio says that he served in the Royal Canadian Army, meaning, we assume, that he was at one time Canadian. However, since we find out in "Secret Scepter" that he served in Korea (in Colonel Morgan’s "outfit"—a man who taught Napoleon punctuality, among other things), we can assume that he is an American. He calls himself an American in "Never Never" and "King of Knaves" (in the latter a woman says to him, "You’re an American!" and he replies blandly, "Only by birth"), and in "Terbuf" Illya says to him, "It’s a handicap, isn’t it, being so obviously American?"
He never mentions his parents (unless you count his whimsical "I want my mother" right before his shotgun wedding to Pia in "Concrete Overcoat"); however, in "The Spy With My Face," his THRUSH lookalike mentions his aftershave was "a present from my mother," so we can assume his mother is still living. In "Love" he says he doesn’t have a sister, and in "Dippy Blond" he says he does, but since both times he was undercover we don’t know which time he was telling the truth and which time he was lying. In "Green Opal" we find out from Illya that one of Napoleon’s grandfathers was an admiral, the other an ambassador. (He tells the "innocent" that one of his grandfathers was a "lawyer in a small country town who went quail hunting every September;" this, however, was probably not true.) In "The Spy With My Face" Sandy pretends to believe that Serena, the beautiful THRUSH agent, is Napoleon’s "maiden aunt...all the way from New York"; in "Fifteen Years Later" we find out the aunt’s name is Amy and that she left Napoleon her apartment in New York so he’d always have a roof over his head. Since condos in New York are not cheap, she must have been quite wealthy. It comes out several time in the series, however, that Napoleon himself does not have money; he denies it to a golddigger in "Five Daughters," saying that he and Illya "work very hard for our living"; in "The Master’s Touch" Illya pointedly tells a girl that Napoleon is not in a book listing millionaires; and in "Love" Illya says to Napoleon that he’s "not exactly in Dun and Bradstreet."
We see only one of Napoleon’s old girlfriends in the four years of the series: Clara Valdar (née Richards) in "Terbuf." Clara and Napoleon were "very good friends" seven years before the Terbuf incident, and were driven apart because of Napoleon’s work, but it’s obvious Napoleon still loves her; even Illya notices it. If Clara is an example, Napoleon has quite good taste in women: Clara is beautiful, intelligent, brave ("If we’re going to live with any self-respect, sometimes we take risks"), and loyal to her weak husband. Except for Clara, and Mara in "Nowhere"—a woman who is also beautiful and intelligent, if a THRUSH agent—we never see him experiencing anything like an emotional involvement with a woman in the four years of the series.
We can assume that Napoleon is not married; in "Candidate’s Wife" he tells the candidate that he’s not, and he says the same thing to the boy Christopher in "Finny Foot." There are hints, however, that Napoleon longs for a family life; he shows some wistfulness when the "innocent" returns to her husband and family in "To Trap a Spy," and in "Mad, Mad Tea Party" he says to the innocent, "There’s a lot to be said for the quiet life; don’t knock it" (but he also says in "Deadly Decoy": "A life without surprises must be rather dull.") There is also a hint of some tragedy in his past from a scene in "Brainkiller," when the innocent tells him he probably can’t understand what she and her retarded brother go through and he says quietly, "You know, as hard as it might be for you to believe, I do understand that."
The tragedy may have been a youthful marriage that ended too soon. One of the early MGM bios of Napoleon speculated that he was married at nineteen to a woman who died a year later in a car accident. This is also mentioned in David McDaniel’s pro novel, The Rainbow Affair (pages 112-114). It was, however, never mentioned on the series itself.
In "Cap and Gown" Napoleon mentions having been to college (he also says in "Cherry Blossom" that he threw the javelin in college and was "remarkable," although the javelin-throwing part was probably a lie; in "My Friend the Gorilla" he says he is not a javelin thrower). We don’t know how he did scholastically; however, he admits "I was never good at history" in "Cap and Gown" and later, in that same episode, proves it by not knowing when Napoleon Bonaparte died. (In "Yellow Scarf," however, he shows quite a remarkable knowledge of Indian history.) He does seem to have a strongly literate background: he quotes Shakespeare, the Bible, and poets such as Browning ("Do it Yourself Dreadful"), Keats ("Fiddlesticks"), and a paraphrase of Omar ("Foreign Legion"); in "Deadly Goddess" he quotes William Congreve ("Marry in haste, we may repent at leisure"). He makes a reference to Dickens’ David Copperfield (comparing Albert Sully to Uriah Heap) in "Odd Man" and to George Orwell’s 1984 in "Shark." In "Five Daughters," however, he does not know what a haiku is.
Physically, Napoleon is tall and slender. On his THRUSH ID card ("THRUSH Roulette") it says that his hair is black, his eyes hazel, that his blood type is A, and that he is 6’0" and 175 pounds (this might be an exaggeration; our guess is 5’11"). In "Arabian" he says that his suit size is "a perfect 39." In "Yukon" it is mentioned that his measurements are chest 40" and waist 31½" (when a woman asks him how he keeps so fit, he deadpans: "I play games," not specifying what kind). Probably his most devastating physical characteristics are his heart-melting smile and his dimpled chin.
Napoleon’s THRUSH ID also states that his specialties are "Physical Arts, Judo, Karate, Fencing, Sharpshooter. Also known to have inclination toward opposite sex." In "Cherry Blossom" he beats a karate instructor at martial arts, showing that his skills in this form of defense are above average.
Napoleon is not quite the Renaissance man Illya is, but he can fly a helicopter ("Summit Five," "Finny Foot," "Prince of Darkness") and drive a motorbike ("The Spy With My Face"). He speaks Italian very well ("Thor," "Concrete Overcoat," "King of Knaves") and does know at least a little French ("Virtue"), although Illya tells him in the latter that his accent is "awful." In "Deadly Toys" he reads a Russian newspaper, showing he must have at least some knowledge of that tongue.
Napoleon is something of an idealist. In "Shark" Captain Shark calls him an optimist; in "Giuoco Piano" Gervaise Ravel says to him, "Your respect for what you think is right is your weakness." In "Secret Scepter" Colonel Morgan accuses Napoleon of "sentimentality," and, also in "Secret Scepter," when Zia asks him, "Are you sure you want to do this?" Napoleon replies, "No, but I’m going to. I promised Colonel Morgan I’d deliver the scepter and I always keep my promises." In "Recollectors" he says, "There is nothing more sterile than vengeance." However, in "Candidate’s Wife," he says, "It [the spy business] has taught me to trust no one, not even myself"—showing that despite his idealism, he is far from a dreamer.
Napoleon is also an incurable romantic; in "Round Table" he says to Artie King, when attempting to break up King’s arranged marriage, "Marriages were made in heaven, not poolrooms," but shortly thereafter he discerns Artie’s affection for the Grand Duchess. He plays matchmaker to Ramona and Jerry in "Hot Number" by lying to Ramona about Jerry’s background; he also matchmakes a couple at the end of "Prince of Darkness," and in "Deep Six" he objects strenuously to Mr. Waverly’s trying to derail the wedding of a British U.N.C.L.E. agent. In "Test Tube Killer" he assures Christine that he thinks Greg loved her, and in many other episodes he perceives others’ romantic feelings almost with a sixth sense ("Foreign Legion," "Napoleon’s Tomb," etc.)
He recites poetry quite often (and reads it "beautifully" to Alyesha in "Come With Me to the Casbah" as a prelude to, we assume, a night of passion); he even romances Wanda, back at U.N.C.L.E., over his communicator with comments about how beautiful the moon is ("Bridge of Lions").
He is also quite gallant. In "Four Steps" he calmly offers a cigarette to a woman who was hiding in his car (later discovered to be an enemy agent); in "J for Judas" he throws a blanket over a woman in the shower; in "Adriatic Express" he is very courtly to an older woman even though she’s a THRUSH enemy, kissing her hand and lighting her cigarette; in "Ultimate Computer" he hands Salty a cloth to wipe her hands after she gets cake on them, although they’re both in a room full of THRUSH agents; in "Terbuf" he insists that Clara be given a robe to put on over her nightgown even as they’re both being held at gunpoint; in "Hula Doll," when forced to spend the night in THRUSH HQ, he allows the female "innocent" to have the bed and he sleeps on the couch. Despite Waverly’s admonition in "Cap and Gown" to curb his "predatory instincts," Napoleon’s attitude towards women is usually not predatory but a kind of affectionate chivalry. He seems to love women, in fact; he goes out of his way to do favors for them even when there’s nothing in it for him ("Never Never," "Discotheque," etc.) At least twice he gives in to THRUSH demands when an innocent young woman is tortured or threatened with torture ("Gazebo in the Maze," "Deadly Smorgasbord"). He also tends to trust women when he shouldn’t, such as in "Discotheque;" in "Recollectors" a woman tells him, "I find your trust in women quite touching, but for you it’s disastrous." However, when in "Deadly Goddess" he’s asked if he believes in marriage, he says, "In moderation," showing that his love for women does have its limits.
Napoleon is not, in the modern terminology, "macho." He would far rather talk than fight, and in "Jingle Bells" he quotes what might be his philosophy: "He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day." He doesn’t take unnecessary risks; in "Terbuf" when Clara tells him to take care of himself, Napoleon says, "Oh, my primary consideration." Although he can suffer deprivation without complaint, he obviously has a deep affection for the finer things in life.
His chief asset as a spy is his charm (in "Candidate’s Wife" he says to Illya, "When you’ve got it, you’ve got it; I’ve got it"; later in that same episode Illya tacitly admits this, saying, "I’ve always told you that one day your devastating charm would backfire"). His other chief asset is his ability to keep his head in tight situations. We almost never see him angry; when he does get angry, his lips tighten and he talks in a low, intense voice (unlike Illya, who raises his voice when angry).
A few pieces of trivia about Napoleon: he doesn’t have an appendix ("Do it Yourself Dreadful") but does have two fillings in his teeth ("Prince of Darkness"); he loves animals ("My Friend the Gorilla"); he has illegible handwriting, at least according to Illya ("Waverly Ring"); he is a Capricorn ("Abominable Snowman"); he has a bad sense of direction (in "Concrete Overcoat" and in "King of Diamonds" he gets both himself and Illya lost). His address, according to his luggage ("Finny Foot"), is "221 5th, New York, New York." He likes his coffee with cream, no sugar ("Bridge of Lions").
Napoleon knows how to play chess, as does Illya; in "Alexander the Greater" he foils the villain, Alexander, in a chess game, and in "Giuoco Piano" he refers to a chess move. In "Bridge of Lions" he takes a moment to look at some chess boards with games in progress on them.
He loves chicken noodle soup ("The Spy With My Face"), also steak ("Monks of St. Thomas") and Danish food ("Suburbia"). He carries a flask for "emergencies" ("Her Master’s Voice") which we assume holds whiskey, but his usual drink is a martini, either with two onions ("Nowhere") or "well chilled, very, very dry with a twist of lemon" ("Deadly Decoy"); although he does order a Gibson, very dry, in "Fiddlesticks." We see him smoke in "Strigas" (a Turkish cigarette) and in "Love;" he was also carrying a package of cigarettes in "Four Steps;" however, since these were first-year episodes, and we never see him smoke again, we can assume that he quit at some point during or shortly after the first year.
Napoleon is, of course, very adept with the ladies; it says this even on his THRUSH ID ("THRUSH Roulette"); and in "King of Diamonds" he confesses to a lovely lady in what must be a masterpiece of understatement that he is "not the brotherly type." As perhaps an inside joke, his code name in "Do It Yourself Dreadful" was "Sheep’s Clothing." There are hints that his lovemaking techniques are extraordinary; a woman in "To Trap a Spy," after a cozy interlude, tells him that he is a "beautiful" lover; Alyesha hints the same thing in "Come With Me to the Casbah" after spending the night with him; and Serena, in "The Spy With My Face," despairs at the fact that the THRUSH duplicate of Solo is not a duplicate in all respects: "[THRUSH] can make a silk purse out of sow’s ear, but it will never feel like a silk purse."
In "Deep Six" a THRUSH agent calls Napoleon "the top U.N.C.L.E. agent in America," something which Napoleon delights in repeating to Illya later, and in "Man from THRUSH" Napoleon is also called "U.N.C.L.E.’s top agent." Was Napoleon being groomed for Waverly’s position? In "Brainkiller" (first year), when Waverly is incapacitated, another man is called from outside to take over headquarters; Napoleon doesn’t automatically do it. However, in "Green Opal," a THRUSH remarks that Napoleon, as Number One in Section Two, would probably take Waverly’s place one day, and in "Waverly Ring" (second year) Mr. Waverly leaves Napoleon in charge of U.N.C.L.E.—and Napoleon does a very good job. However, as we find out in "Fifteen Years Later," Napoleon never did take Waverly’s chair. He, in fact, quit U.N.C.L.E. in 1968 and later began his own computer business, which was obviously successful—or at least successful enough to enable him to gamble for high stakes at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
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