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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Sapphire & Steel: The Man Without a Face (Part 4) Sapphire & Steel
Assignment Four
"The Man Without a Face" Part 4
TV episode
Writer: P.J. Hammond
Directed by: David Foster
Original air date: February 5, 1981


Sapphire and Steel become trapped in a photograph.


Read the episode summary at the Sci Fi Freak Site or Watch it at Shout Factory


Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode


The Man Without a Face (Shape)



Liz Duprey

Ruth Phillips (Liz's roommate, in photo and voice only, dies in this episode)

H. Williamson (in photo only, dies in this episode)

Mercury (mentioned only)

Silver (mentioned only)

parasol girl


Didja Notice?


The screams of Liz's roommate, Ruth Phillips, burning alive inside a photograph, carry over into the opening few seconds of the main title theme in this episode.


When Steel walks into Liz's kitchen at 2:14 on the DVD, notice that the framed photo hanging on the wall is swaying back-and-forth slightly, an indication that the Man With No Face has just entered it.


Notice that there is a humming sound that accompanies the movement of Sapphire's hand as she "scans" each photograph in Williamson's collection. This has appeared in previous episodes as well and I'd just sort of taken it as an "inaudible" sound present only for the audience's benefit, to indicate she was doing something preternatural. But when Steel walks into the next room as she's doing this and we follow him in there, the sound is present but diminished, seeming to indicate it is an actual sound that occurs when Sapphire performs this act. 


At 7:01 on the DVD, a tiny pair of crosshairs suddenly appears in the lower-right quadrant of the screen! It lasts for only two frames. I assume it was not part of the original episode presentation and is some kind of artifact of the video processing to digital for the DVD production. Have any of my readers seen such a thing on a professional DVD before? (It also appears on the episode stream at the Shout Factory website (about 6:59 there). The DVD set was produced by Shout Factory, so they are obviously using the same digital version. crosshairs


Twin Peaks note: At 7:09 on the DVD, Liz sees the blank face of the Man Without a Face superimposed over her own in the mirror. This seems to foreshadow the face of BOB appearing in the mirror for Leland and Cooper and even the accidental face of BOB actor Frank Silva caught in a background mirror in a scene with Sarah Palmer in Episode 0B: "Northwest Passage". The moment here also resembles a moment in Episode 1: "Traces to Nowhere", where Sarah sees her daughter Laura's face over that of Laura's best friend, Donna.
face in mirror Laura for Donna
Faceless in mirror Laura for Donna


    At 7:25 on the DVD, the book Color Photography in Practice by D.A. Spencer is seen on the shelf in Williamson's apartment. This is a real book published in 1938 and having appeared in several editions over the decades.

    Seconds later, Sapphire pulls the book off the shelf, revealing a Rollei manual behind it. 


The camera Steel picks up at 10:49 on the DVD appears to be a Canon.


After the Man Without a Face traps Sapphire and Steel in a photograph, the children ask him who is it this time and he tells them, "Two more people. People we've been looking for for a very long time." This implies he (and others?) have been trying to stop Sapphire and Steel for longer than just the duration of this storyline.


At 14:32 on the DVD, a 1970s-1980s circa copy of the Radio Times magazine is seen on Liz's kitchen table.


Hoping that they can make a mirror from the glass of the picture frame they are trapped behind, Steel tells Sapphire to think of Mecury and Silver, "'Think of what they can do, borrow from their minds." Apparently, Mercury is another element agent they have worked with before. We never meet Mercury in any of Sapphire and Steel's known missions. The final televised storyline (Assignment 6: The Trap) substituted "Mercury" for "Lead" in the preamble, and Mercury is mentioned in the audio adventure "Zero" Part 1.


At 25:43 on the DVD, something that sounds like the cough of a production crewmember offstage is heard! Listen: cough.mp3


Sapphire and Steel trap the Man Without a Face in a kaleidoscope and then plan to put it inside a ship that is due to sink within minutes and trapped in ice for the next 75 years. After 75 years, they will be waiting for it again.


The closing credits of this episode acknowledge a number of photographic archives for the historical photos used in this storyline.


Memorable Dialog


at least he bothered to impress them.mp3

the dangers of mixing the old and the new.mp3

immersed in a pyramid of ice.mp3

find every photograph of you.mp3 


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