Season 4 Episode 5

If He Can, So Could I

Aired Saturday 9:00 PM Mar 29, 1972 on ITV
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If He Can, So Could I
Dr. Snell thinks Cross is cracking up and Callan is desperate to prove him wrong at almost any cost. Even if it means losing his place as Hunter?

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  • An assassin may be on the loose and out to kill a defected poet, but that is the least of Callan's problems as Hunter. Dr.Snell thinks Cross is cracking but Callan is desperate to prove he's stable - after all, if Cross could crack then couldn't they all?moreless


    In Hunter's office Callan is pacing as Dr. Snell, the always sneaky and always analysing Section psychologist looks to his watch. Both are waiting for Cross to show up. Callan is being patient but Snell wants Callan to just order Cross and not be so polite. Callan says they will do it his way by being thorough and patient, because Cross is a good agent and worth waiting for.

    "Nonsense" Snell replies. "He's replaceable. If there's any doubt about him, he's finished."

    Callan snorts. "Yes, you said that about me once, do you remember?" Snell suddenly looks interested, studying Callan. "You're not afraid of wrong decisions but you're fearful of the correct ones. You're thinking, what if Cross is falling apart? We're two peas out of the same pod. If it could happen to him it could happen to me." Callan is defensive but Snell is an officious mind bender and adds, "Big men have to snivel some time, Hunter."

    Before Callan can snarl at Snell more, Bishop calls and tells Callan to come over. As Callan leaves he asks Snell to keep Cross busy if he arrives while he's gone. Certainly, Snell says, then asks Callan if he has ever thought of the analogy of an over-wound watch? It has to be repaired. Callan snaps back at the always-calm Dr. Snell, but as usual Snell just makes Callan's reactions seem like a symptom of something abnormal.

    In a small, dark flat, Cross walks in and turns on his light - and finds Meres sitting there having a drink. Cross is perturbed - such visits are never a good thing, especially from agents like Meres. The flat is dingy but no where near the squalidness that Callan's flats always were. Mind you, Cross could do with a wardrobe rather than use the picture rail.

    Meres casually asks how the little girl is, "The little girl you clobbered over the head with your little gun-butt." Cross dismisses it as just an accident but Meres disagrees and says there are none in their trade.

    "Alive, she torments you..." he smiles, in his usual snide way.

    Cross disagrees. "No one torments me, Toby. Not even you.

    "...Dead, she'd let us have you back."

    Cross snaps. "I haven't been anywhere."

    Meres keeps pushing. "You know there is something rather sad, James, about people who keep saying, 'There is nothing wrong with me'."

    He pulls a gun and points it at Cross, who freezes, unsure if this is the end. Then Meres hands it over and tells him he is wanted. It is Cross's gun and Meres wants to know why he didn't have it with him. Cross says he was off duty, but Meres points out they are never off duty.

    In Bishop's office Callan is being shown slides of a man. Possibly the same man - the older photos are of an enemy agent called Burov, the more recent a man called Vadim, a tractor salesman from the Ukraine currently living in England and member of the Ukraine trade ministery. It could be the same man... which is what Bishop wants to find out. He wants the man watched, and then Bishop suggests Meres will probably not be ready for the job after his Washington post - why not use Cross?

    It seems almost like more than a suggestion. like he's pushing to have Cross back. So Callan answers carefully, not wanting to comply too quickly with Bishop. Yes, when he's cleared, Callan answers. Who by, Bishop demands, and Callan names Snell before swiftly leaving a fuming Bishop alone in his office.

    Callan is sitting at his Hunter desk, facing the television monitors behind him. They show the shooting range, and on screen are Meres and Cross, waiting to shoot electronic guns. Snell watches over his shoulder with interest as Callan gives the order over the speaker for the shoot to begin. They shoot targets and get the same high score. Then the next targets appear - silhouettes in the shape of a man and a woman with a target on the heart.

    Cross knows he is being tested on more than his shooting ability here. They fire and again they have the same score. Then Callan orders the quiet electronic guns be put aside and the revolvers come out.

    The target is lifted and a new target in place. Slightly more detailed silhouettes, and Cross's is more like a little girl with hair something like that of the Russian girl he hit. This time the target is on the heart and the head. Cross pauses for a second, but on the command he fires.

    Snell watches, fascinated. The shoot was timed - Cross was .3 seconds slower but that's all, and Callan defends his score to Snell. However, Snell says life and death is often a matter of a split second.

    Meres is summoned to Hunter's office, while Snell goes down to the range to see Cross. Meres and Snell bump into each other in the doorway - Meres seems disturbed by Snell's presence, as do they all, and for a moment Meres loses his smugness and almost becomes fearful. Then Meres is back to his usual self. He smiles at Callan as he stands opposite Hunter's desk. "It's still funny to see you there, Sir."

    "Hilarious." Callan is unamused. He gives Meres the Vadim file and tells him to read it outside, then Callan returns to his monitor to watch Cross and Snell reacting together.

    Down in the range Cross is casually looking at the target silhouette he shot of the little girl. Snell creeps up from behind and asks if it worries him. Isn't it meant to? Cross asks with a grin, then adds if he had known Snell was watching he said he would have been more careful about showing his feelings. But did you feel anything, Snell asks? Cross smirks out an answer - no. Then Snell raises up the target - behind the silhouette is a mannequin of a child dressed and wigged to look the same as Danera, the Russian girl Cross hit last episode.

    The head shot Cross fired at the target has shattered the head of the mannequin. This makes Cross pause and he asks whose sick mind thought that up. Mine, Snell is happy to admit. Cross snarls. "No, Mr. Snell, I refuse to respond." "Oh good," Snell is still cheerful, "We'll find another way." He walks past and drops photos from the file he is carrying - photos of Danera. Cross picks them up and hands them over with a tut-tut. Callan, watching from the monitor, is amused to see Cross thwart Snell's little mind game so easily.

    Snell continues, pushing Cross about what happened with Danera. He says it is understandable to feel upset as in the course of duty a fourteen-year old girl was struck in the head and the blow resulted in brain damage. The girl is alive but severely paralysed - you feel no pain? Snell seems eager to hear a yes.

    "Remorse is rigorously excluded from any training schedule," Cross answers.

    "Excluded or repressed?"

    "We're taught control. Some do it by repression, others manage to exclude it."

    Snell consults his file and asks why Cross has tried to see her in hospital on three separate occasions but Cross says it was just because he had never hit a child before. Snell asks if it would be better if she were dead - which angers Cross slightly.

    "Oh, don't feel persecuted."

    "I wouldn't give you the satisfaction," snarls Cross, then adds: "There's nothing wrong with me, Mr. Snell, but if you go on the way you are you will create something in me which I've been trained to exclude."

    Snell asks why Cross uses Danera's christian name when referring to her, after all he has killed before and felt no remorse. "I'm not trained to feel. I am trained to kill."

    "There is no feeling involved in killing? I ask you?"

    "Yeah, I can't define it."

    Snell brings up past cases - the girl who committed suicide and the man who went under a train, Lady Lewis, the man who 'fell' from a hotel room... Cross becomes flustered and says it was all part of the job, Callan was involved, it was their duty... but he is starting to become more defensive. After all, Cross adds as he stares up at the camera watching, I shot Lubin and saved Callan's life - so why is he now trying to destroy mine?

    In Hunter's office, Callan sighs.

    What exactly do you feel when you kill, Snell asks now. Secure, Cross replies. Snell asks if Cross considers himself ready to kill again, which Cross immediately says yes to. "I don't believe you, Snell replies with a smirk.

    In Hunter's office, Meres returns to Callan with the file on Vadim. What does Callan want done? Does he want him to lean on Vadim to find out if he is Burov and a tractor salesman or an assassin? Callan is cagey.

    "If Vadim isn't a seller of tractors, you better be very careful exactly where you lean, how you lean or if in fact you lean at all - without a little help from your friends." Meres grins at this, then Callan realises he is grinning at the television monitor over his shoulder still showing Cross.

    Meres leaves and on the way out bumps into Dr. Snell coming into the office. Again there is a frostiness as he passes, which Snell just seems to find fascinating - or usual from the agents he bumps into.

    Snell says he is unsure of Cross but he thinks something is wrong. Carrying on his watch analogy, he wants to see how this watch ticks - or if the spring is ready to snap. He wants to test Cross's control in a sparring session with their fighting instructor. Callan growls but agrees.

    Out in the street Meres and an agent are watching Vadim and a business associate called Cuthbertson. The agent follows the associate while Meres tails Vadim, both appearing to be nothing more than businessmen. Then Meres loses Vadim. Before he can panic, Vadim saunters out from a toilet and pauses to light a cigarette as they watch each other, knowingly. Meres knows he has been made, just as he knows Vadim is silently telling him this. They go their separate ways.

    In the physical training room, Callan and Snell watch from the balcony as Cross and Sato do some unarmed combat judo training. Snell says if Cross loses his temper, he is no good to them any more. The fight is long and arduous, but whenever Cross sees Snell he restrains himself. Callan storms off, certain it was a waste of time. Cross is fine, he tells himself.

    Cross shows up at Hunter's office and says hello to Liz the secretary. She barely acknowledges him and says Hunter is busy. Cross says he will wait.

    In Hunter's office, Callan is talking with Meres about Vadim. Meres says Vadim looked at him, and the 'look' was not that of an ordinary tractor salesman. "His 'look' is our look," Meres explains. They study the route Vadim takes on his sales trips - up north on the A1 freeway and down another. Callan decides to go see Bishop and tells Liz to call him.

    In the outer office, Cross is trying to chat up his old girlfriend, but Liz is ignoring him. She arranges a meeting with Bishop and Callan. Callan and Meres emerge and seem surprised to see Cross, who is supposed to be on sick leave. When Cross asks why he is on sick leave, Callan produces a white file with 'Cross' on the front. Callan and Meres stride off, leaving Cross demanding Liz tell him why his file is now white.

    Callan walks into Bishop's office to find Bishop and Dr. Snell having a drink and a chat, smiling together. Bishop wants to know about Vadim and Callan explains it could be Burov and that he showed himself to Meres.

    Then Callan recalls the A1 freeway is near Cambridge, where the defected Ukrainian poet Trofimchuk now lives and is working on a book. Could he be the target of assassination by Burov? Callan says to find out he will need more operatives. In other words, he wants Cross back. Snell disagrees, but Bishop just wants the jobs done and will authorise Cross to return. Callan wants more though - he wants Cross out of the white file as well.

    Snell objects even more but Callan is firm that there is nothing wrong with Cross and promises to take full responsibility for Cross. Snell promises to continue his own investigations and hurries off. Bishop is quick to hate Snell as much as the next man.

    "That quack even smiles like a breast-fed Nazi."

    Callan has found a comrade. "You mean he smiles?"

    Bishop tells Callan to move Trofimchuk somewhere safe and protect him.

    Cross arrives at Hunter's office and confronts Callan, demanding to be out of the white file. Callan tells him he is, but Cross is suspicious. Callan tells him he is on Cross's side, reluctantly, then hands him the Vadim file to read. Meres joins them and makes snide remarks about Cross, but soon they are down to business. Why would Vadim show himself to Meres? So Meres must keep on him, and that's one less agent in the field.

    But maybe Vadim is just a decoy. Trofimchuk's book is due out in a fortnight, so why have they waited so long to kill him when his book will be published now whether he's dead or alive? Callan thinks it is a reprisal, to show other possible defectors that you can never run away without getting caught sometime. Callan decides to move Trofimchuk and keep him under constant guard - that's Cross's job - while Vadim will be tailed by Meres.

    In a safe house, which appears to be a fourth floor part of an old university building, Trofimchuk wanders about the sparse rooms, drinking port, playing chess, and talking incessantly to Cross about his country, freedom, poetry, the evils of a capitalist society... anything. He tells Cross he is a brave man, a person who defected from an oppressive country - but he still won't drink anything until Cross tastes it first. Then he starts to rabbit on about life and the love of simple pleasures, asking Cross when he last loved and enjoyed life. I think the Ukraine was happy to let this guy defect.

    His poetic rambling begins to annoy Cross. He produces the photos of Burov and Vadim, who they now are sure is the same man, and asks Trofimchuk if he recognises either of them. The poet shrugs them off, saying he doesn't know them. Cross peers out the window at the building's castellated roof beside him and down into the courtyard below.

    In Hunter's office, Callan gets a phone call. Meres tells him they are tailing Vadim, who is heading up north as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary. They will keep following. Callan is only slightly relieved to hear Vadim is heading away from the safe house with Trofimchuk. Callan starts reading Cross's file. A bit of light reading to pass the time.

    In the safe flat, Cross looks down as a school girl giggles and calls to her father. Meanwhile Trofimchuk continues to bemoan his fate and his life as a poet as well as Cross's life as an agent.

    The melancholy Trofimchuk continues bleating. He talks about suicide as the only true means of expression. Cross frowns at this and says he is not a philosopher, but Trofimchuk keeps on ranting about his belief in Communism and how he hates having to rely on the British, a people who have no dreams.

    Cross peers out the window again as he hears the school girl once more. Now she is calling to her father because there is a man on the roof. Just then Cross and Trofimchuk hear noises from above them. Cross makes a quick decision - he runs for the door. Trofimchuk begs him to stay and protect him, but Cross just tells him to lock the door and runs off.

    In Hunter's office, Callan is pacing anxiously and uselessly as he waits for something to happen. The phone rings and it is Meres. The car they were following has a decoy in it - they've lost Vadim. They do have the bloke that was imitating him, though. Callan tells Meres to stand by then tries to call Cross.

    In the safe flat the phone is ringing on the table, but Trofimchuk is curled up on the floor in the far corner. He cowers as the phone continues to ring.

    Callan tells Liz to call a red alert. Agents to the embassy and other places, and the rest to the college safe flat with orders to shoot if necessary.

    Up on the roof, Cross is sitting between castellations with his gun in hand, looking for any intruder. The girl in the courtyard looks up and yells to her father there are now two people on the roof. Cross stares down at her and a shot rings out. His foot slips and he tumbles, landing near the girl on his back across a rock. Dead. Good bye, Cross.

    Callan and Liz listen as an agent phones in the report that Cross is dead. Trofimchuk won't unlock the door but he's answering so he's still alive. Callan says he will come straight there. The other agent is concerned - a Hunter coming out into the field? Is that wise, the agent asks, as we don't know if the killer is still on the roof? Then check it, Callan snarls, grabbing his gun.

    He tells Liz to send forensics and call Bishop to take over the shop. She objects - Hunter can't leave, it's the regulations. Callan shrugs it off - he wants Vadim badly. He tells Liz to inform Meres and to interrogate the man who impersonated Vadim, using any means to get information fast. He runs off and Liz gazes sadly at the file photo of Cross.

    She calls Bishop and tells him they are on red alert. He accepts this calmly enough. Then she tells him Hunter has left the office and Bishop becomes furious. In Cross's flat, Dr. Snell is rummaging through books and things, comparing notes, and discovers a suit laid out formally on the bed.

    It's night as Callan and an agent bend over Cross's body, still out in the courtyard. Callan covers him with a blanket and demands to know how a killer got through two rings of security and escaped. The only description of the killer from the little girl is enough for Callan to conclude it was Vadim. Forensics come for the body and Callan goes up to Trofimchuk's room.

    Trofimchuk is being sick and tells Callan he saw nothing but Cross falling after a shot. But he is sure Vadim is involved - and he admits he recognises one of the photographs he was shown is Vadim, who once had all the members of Trofimchuk's writers group put into an insane asylum. Trofimchuk escaped but his government knew if he published abroad his work would be discredited amongst the Ukrainians because he would seem a traitor. Callan has the poet and Cross taken to another safe house.

    Callan returns to his office. Liz tells him Meres is on the phone and Bishop is inside. As Callan enters Bishop orders him to stop and tells him he is relieved of duty. Callan is in no mood for niceties and says Cross was his responsibility and now he has to get on with his job - Bishop can reprimand him later. Bishop relents. Callan talks on the phone to Meres, who tells him their 'friend' is nice and comfy now an willing to have a chat. Putting him on speaker phone, Callan asks him to continue.

    Meres wants to be sure he can continue with his methods. "I take it we're not afraid of incidents now, are we sir?"

    "No, not now."

    "Jolly good. Super."

    The man groans in pain. Meres says they have confirmed Vadim is Burov. Callan wants to know every place the opposition use as a stage for their route out so they know which way Vadim will go. They start reading out addresses, which Callan and Bishop write down while Liz searches through files for the places. The suspect finally gives out Lilac Farm and says this is where Vadim is going. Callan races off to help and tells Meres to do the same when they finish with the suspect. The man dies soon enough.

    Bishop and Liz are busy as Dr. Snell strolls in, confused and not knowing what's been going on. Bishop tells him that Cross has been shot dead at the college. Snell says he believes it was suicide.

    At Lilac Farm, the owner - Cuthbertson - gives Vadim a sherry and thanks him again for his work in the tractor business. Vadim has drawn the curtains and is in a hurry to go. There is a sharp knock on the door but as Cuthbertson goes to answer Vadim stands and draws a gun. Meres calls via megaphone and says there is a dangerous criminal in the house and the inhabitants should come out with their hands up. Cuthbertson agrees and moves to the front door, but Vadim is creeping towards the back. Suddenly Callan shouts his name. As Vadim turns, Callan shoots him through the back door.

    Callan barges in as Vadim lays dying, and Meres shoves in through the front, pushing the owner in with him. Vadim gasps out his last words in Russian. The owner seems baffled and translates it as: "He let me kill him."

    Lonely sits in Callan's flat, trying to make pleasant conversation, but Callan is drunk and raving and really all Lonely can do is be there.

    Callan relates a story from his time in the war, drinking with an executioner friend of his and talking about how they have to be cold killers. His friend had talked about how his own violence scared him. How he'd 'do anything... anything....' to stop them tapping into the well of his own violence.

    Callan continues, drunk and oblivious to the tears in Lonely's eyes at seeing his mate like this. "He was the hardest man I ever met," Callan says. "Gawd, he was hard. So I learned to be like him, didn't I? And so did Cross. I sustain myself with my hardness. And so did Cross. You know, if one of us cracks, we all could.

    "Because there is an ugly, black streak - bloody deep, bloody deep - and it's welling up in the likes of us. And holding it down, you see, holding it down is what makes us good at our jobs.

    "Don't you tell anybody what I'm telling you, mate! To live with it... to control it... you train until every second is your enemy. Cross didn't crack up. He just forgot his training. Didn't he? A bloody split second." Lonely is crying and it looks like Callan might join him.

    Bishop and Snell are in Bishop's office staring coldly at a defeated-looking Callan.

    You forgot training, Bishop tells him, and as a Hunter you left the office. You forgot you are no longer in the field. And you killed a man you were not authorised to kill, the first time they can recall him doing so. As an excuse for both actions, Callan simply says 'Cross was killed'.

    "This section kills selectively, Callan. You killed unecessarily. We're happy Burov is dead, we shan't lose any sleep over it. But you can hardly stay on in your job."

    Snell says Cross wanted to die, but Callan refuses to believe such a thing. Then Snell shows him one of Cross's books with a page marked - and there are seventeen others similarly marked, all with a preoccupation about suicide. The only problem was how, Snell explains, and comes back to his analogy. "The spring was ready to snap, Callan."

    Callan briefly glances at the book then slumps down wearily at the desk with his face in his hand.

    Of course, with the death of a major character this had to be a pivotal episode. A death due to the line of business is almost acceptable, but to find that the cold, cocky and confident Cross was actually suicidal and guilt-ridden about a teenage girl he had crippled was a shock - and yet in character. Having his death an 'assisted suicide' makes it harder than it would have been if it was just the line of duty. It also implies that, if Cross can crack under the pressure, any of them can. Callan especially, because of his carefully concealed compassion.

    Callan opens up briefly to Lonely in a speech that tells us a great deal about Callan, his past, how he feels, and although he says very little it speaks even more about Lonely's relationship with the killer who is both a mate and someone who terrifies him. This is a very rich episode and despite the prattling of the poet - who you really wish would just get assassinated - it's one worth watching again and again.moreless
Andrew Burt

Andrew Burt


Guest Star

John Abineri

John Abineri


Guest Star

David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves


Guest Star

Lisa Langdon

Lisa Langdon


Recurring Role

Geoffrey Chater

Geoffrey Chater


Recurring Role

Clifford Rose

Clifford Rose


Recurring Role

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (16)

    • Dr. Snell [ on Cross ]: The spring was ready to snap, Callan.

    • Bishop: This section kills selectively, Callan. You killed unnecessarily. We're happy Burov is dead, we shan't lose any sleep over it, but you can hardly stay on in your job.

    • Callan: He was the hardest man I ever met. Gawd, he was hard. So I learned to be like him, didn't I? And so did Cross. I sustain myself with my hardness. And so did Cross. You know, if one of us cracks, we all could. Because there is an ugly, black streak - bloody deep, bloody deep - and it's welling up in the likes of us. And holding it down, you see, holding it down is what makes us good at our jobs. Don't you tell anybody what I'm telling you, mate! To live with it… to control it… you train until every second is your enemy. Cross didn't crack up. He just forgot his training. Didn't he? A bloody split second!!

    • Callan [ on his mentor ]: He'd do anything… anything… to stop them tapping into the well of his own violence.

    • Meres [ seeking permission to interrogate a prisoner to death ]: I take it we're not afraid of incidents now, are we sir?
      Callan: No, not now.
      Meres: Jolly good. Super.

    • Bishop [ on Snell ]: That quack even smiles like a breast-fed Nazi.
      Callan : You mean he smiles?

    • Meres [ of Vadim ]: His 'look' was not that of an ordinary tractor salesman. His 'look'… is our look.

    • Callan [ to Meres ]: If Vadim isn't a seller of tractors, you better be very careful exactly where you lean, how you lean or if in fact you lean at all — without a little help from your friends.

    • Dr. Snell: Oh, don't feel persecuted.
      Cross: I wouldn't give you the satisfaction. There's nothing wrong with me, Mr. Snell, but if you go on the way you are you will create something in me which I've been trained to exclude.

    • Cross: Remorse is rigorously excluded from any training schedule.
      Dr. Snell: Excluded or repressed?
      Cross: We're taught control. Some do it by repression, others manage to exclude it.

    • Cross [ regarding a target dressed as a young girl ]: Whose sick mind thought that up?
      Dr. Snell: Mine.
      Cross: No, Mr. Snell, I refuse to respond.
      Dr. Snell: Oh good. We'll find another way.

    • Meres:You know, there is something rather sad, James, about people who keep saying, 'There is nothing wrong with me.'

    • Meres [ on Cross's victim ]: Alive, she torments you…
      Cross: No one torments me, Toby. Not even you.
      Meres: …Dead, she'd let us have you back.
      Cross: I haven't been anywhere.

    • Dr. Snell [ to Callan ]: Big men have to snivel some time, Hunter.

    • Dr. Snell [ to Callan ]: You're not afraid of wrong decisions but you're fearful of the correct ones. You're thinking, what if Cross is falling apart? We're two peas out of the same pod. If it could happen to him it could happen to me.

    • Callan [ on Cross ]: He's a good agent. Worth waiting for.
      Dr. Snell: Nonsense. He's replaceable. If there's any doubt about him, he's finished.
      Callan: Yes, you said that about me once, do you remember?

  • NOTES (0)


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