Leonard Nimoy = Spock.
Spock = Leonard Nimoy.
But before I knew who Spock was, I’d already been blown away by Leonard Nimoy’s mesmerizing, precise acting skills. My family owned exactly one season of Mission: Impossible during my childhood years – Season 4, the first season starring Leonard Nimoy. I watched those episodes over and over and over again with my siblings; Paris (Nimoy) was undoubtedly my favorite character (and continues to be so).
Leonard Nimoy actually didn’t enjoy his stint on Mission: Impossible all that much because the character of Paris never really changed. Never grew as a person. Leonard Nimoy preferred portraying multi-faceted characters with hidden depths and goals and emotions. (Like Spock.) But I’m so grateful that he didn’t quit playing Paris after a couple episodes because, honestly, Mission: Impossible Season 4 is EVERYTHING to me.
Anyway, I thought I’d highlight three different episodes from this season, focusing on Paris’s role in each one. That way, you’ll hopefully be able to understand why I found Leonard Nimoy so cool right from the start.
Episode 7: ‘Submarine’
If y’all only ever watch one episode of Mission: Impossible, it needs to be this one. The IM team is at the absolute top of their game and it’s really, really cool. You don’t get to see much of Paris as, well, Paris in ‘Submarine’ because he’s pretty busy being different people. First he’s a monk, then a brutal and sadistic SS officer. It’s too complicated to explain why he’s playing these roles, but trust me – it makes for a super compelling episode. A very layered performance, out of necessity.
(I kinda love how whenever Paris and Jim have to impersonate other people, they’re always at each other’s throats. (Like, for tension or whatever.) It’s funny, especially because Paris/Leonard Nimoy is usually so cool and calm.)
Episodes 14-16: ‘The Falcon’
In this three-part story, Paris has yet another persona (or three). But there are three things about him/the character he plays that make this performance stand out. First of all, Paris is impersonating a magician and he’s basically already a magician? Or a disguise artist at least? He doesn’t have to reach very far to be all theatrical and yet you can see how Leonard Nimoy fully embraced the deceptive aspects of the role to make everything that much more interesting.
Secondly, there’s a LOT of face-switching that goes on in ‘The Falcon’. Far more than usual. And yet all the actors involved (but especially Nimoy, of course) do such a good job of remembering who they are under the face masks. It sounds really complicated (and it is) but just…yeah. Great acting all around.
And thirdly, this is one of the few episodes (if not the only one) where Paris is actually found out. Where his disguises fail him. So that’s really intriguing, how Leonard Nimoy was able to do some out of the ordinary, acting-wise, with that. (Though I don’t think the script gave him much time to explore the situation.) I like to think that he enjoyed the challenges that ‘The Falcon’ brought – it shook things up a little, with all the twists and turns and extra bits of acting expertise that were needed.
Episode 21: ‘Lover’s Knot’
This is probably my least favorite Season 4 episode because it feels very out of character for Paris. But it’s also the only episode (in this season at least) that gave Leonard Nimoy the chance to explore Paris’s inner life. I would love to know what he thought about it, if he thought Paris’s actions were out of character, etc. Basically, Paris falls in love with the IM team’s target – Lady Weston. And there’s a lot of sappiness and weird, awkward flirting and stuff. *scratches head* However, it’s still interesting to watch, as a Nimoy fan.
I’m forever grateful to Mission: Impossible for introducing me to such a talented, amazing actor as Leonard Nimoy. He’ll always be special to me because of Paris and that thrilling theme music and “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”.
Have you seen any episodes of Mission: Impossible? Who’s your favorite character?