The Green Archer (1940) Chapter 9: The Mirror of Treachery


When Last We Left Our Story: With Spike hot on his illicit tail, Abel arranges a fake robbery of Garr Castle antiques to throw off the police. Even better, the stuff is insured with Spike’s insurance company. All seems to be working until Henderson the Butler captures Jake, Abel’s henchman, lurking around the grounds of Lady’s Manor. A little gunplay has Jake spilling the beans to Spike, who departs to reclaim Abel’s ‘stolen’ goods. However, Spike is jumped at a dockside warehouse. On orders from Abel he is trussed up and tossed into the drink, ensuring our hero a horrible and seemingly inescapable death….

Cliffhanger Resolution: Abel’s men leave, and up pops—you got it—The Green Archer. Pulling his dagger (but leaving his facemask on to preserve the ‘mystery’ of his identity), the elaborately clad and booted Archer leaps into the water, dragging Spike back to the surface and cutting him free of his bonds before making his predictable exit.

Cheat Factor:  On the face of it, this isn’t so much a cheat as just further lameness in the cliffhanger department. Still, since

a) we had no reason whatsoever to think the Archer was following Spike, and

b) the idea of the Archer traveling—by car? If so, where did he get one?—in his full regalia all the way to the city (a “long way” from Garr Castle, we were previously informed) and down to the waterfront is just plain ridiculous. I mean, seriously, Spike is tossed in the water and then just suddenly out of nowhere there’s the Archer. So I’m giving this a 6 on the cheat scale.

Meanwhile, Valerie suddenly drives up. Spike tries to send her to safety, insisting he has to stay around to stop the goods from being shipped out of the city. For her part, Valerie insists on staying with him. However, just then the truck with Abel’s artwork and antiques drives by. With Spike presumed dead (for about the dozenth time), Abel feels it’s safe to return the goods to the Castle instead of getting them out of town.

Before Spike can react to this, the Green Archer appears from behind a cargo crate and fires an arrow into—what else?—the front seat of Spike’s car. Spike reads the Arrow-o-Gram, which confirms that the goods are indeed being returned to the Castle.

How would the Archer know this anyway? Got me. Abel just changed his mind a minute ago and ordered the goods brought back over the phone. At this point it’s like they’ve just given up on explaining how the Archer does stuff.

Spike tells Valerie to call Inspector Ross and relay the information, while Spike jumps in the car to follow the truck. Out on the lonely byways, Ross and some uniform police, as alerted by Valerie, are waiting to intercept the truck. Finding their vehicle blocked by a squad of pistol-firing cops, the crooks flee into the dark woods surround the road.

Spike drives up and tells Ross he’ll grab the truck and return the goods to Garr Castle. Ross says sure, sans any argument. I guess it’s just standard procedure in such cases. It’s not like the cops would do anything with the truck or stolen goods, right? Screw it, let the private sector guys handle things.

Back at Abel’s house, Abel is sending Brad the Ersatz Archer across the street to Lady’s Manor. He wants to know if Jake is going to talk; if it looks like the answer is yes, then Brad is to finish him off. Sure enough, in broad daylight now, we see Brad peeking in that living room window at the front of the house that people are constantly spying through.

Believe it or not, the (fake) Green Archer is actually in this picture. See if you can find him!

Jake is indeed saying he plans to sing to the cops, when sudden an arrow embeds itself in the wall over the couch he’s sitting on. Oddly, it seems to land in the exact same spot as an arrow fired in the previous episode, almost like it was traveling via a string or something. Henderson rushes to the window to investigate, whereupon Jake takes the opportunity to jump him. Striking from behind, he manages to overpower the butler and leap out the window to freedom.

At this point odious comic relief Captain Thompson shows up. Henderson tries to send him after Jake, but Jake’s absence reawakens Thompson’s conviction that he’s getting jerked around. He basically tells Henderson to stuff it. Then he sends Henderson to get Howett so he can tell him the same thing.

Meanwhile, out in the garden, we see the masked Brad drawing back an arrow. He fires it into the fleeing Jake’s back, eliminating the security risk. Then before he runs off, for no imaginable internal reason, he lifts up his mask for a second to let the audience know it’s Brad and not the real Archer. Wouldn’t want to confuse the tykes, I guess.

Over at the Castle, Abel joins his gang in the Dungeon Conference Room. When he learns the fate of his goods, he’s strangely copacetic about the whole thing. Apparently he’s just glad the crew managed to escape without being arrested. And he still believes Spike is dead, because c’mon, it’s not like he could have escaped yet another goofy deathtrap. Surely not.

Sadly, the evidence to the contrary has just arrived upstairs. Savini answers the front bell and is visibly flabbergasted to see Spike standing there. (This is about as surprising as learning Dr. Doom didn’t really die in the previous issue of The Fantastic Four.)  Spike reports that he’s recovered Abel’s goods and is returning them, thus voiding Abel’s insurance claim.

Savini calls down to Abel, who needless to say is ill-pleased by this latest intelligence. He pauses to chew out his men again, and then orders them to wait in the front hall. They are to ambush Spike when Abel brings him out of the office. Then he heads upstairs and greets Spike warmly. Here Spike proves tired of all the charades:

Spike: “Why don’t you drop the pretense, Bellamy? It’s a waste of time. We’re playing a game and you’re dealing from the bottom of the deck. But I’m holding a hand you’ll never beat; The Law!”

Despite Spike’s assertion that Ross knows where he is, Abel goes through with his plan. He leads Spike out into the hall, where pretty much the entire gang jumps our stalwart hero.  (I’m not sure how trained investigator Spike failed to notice literally half a dozen guys congregated just on the other side of the open doorway, but there you go.)

Six crooks are bad enough, but then Abel and Savini join in. Spike gives a ridiculously good account for himself, and then tries to escape down the hall. Sadly, though, Brad is coming the other way and blocks that egress with his bow and arrow. Cornered, Spike is finally taken down. When Abel is asked if they should finish him off, the villain OF COURSE says no. I mean, why would he, right?

Jake’s body has been found on the lawn of Lady’s Manor, and Howett, Henderson and Thompson run out to investigate. Meanwhile, the newly arrived Valerie answers the phone. It’s Savini calling, pretending to be a disgruntled employee of Abel’s who’s willing to reveal where Elaine—remember her?—is being kept. Being a silly dame, Valerie agrees to sneak out and meet this mystery person outside of town at the 10 Mile Roadhouse.

So here’s the scam. Spike is sequestered in a rear room. Meanwhile, the bartender has Valerie taken to an adjoining office where she is supposedly to wait for the phantom informant. The whole scheme is to get Spike to sign a confession to being behind all the various crimes, which is what Thompson thinks anyway.

Naturally, Spike balks at signing the confession. However, they dim the lights, and a nearby mirror is revealed to be two-way glass. Spike is shocked to see Valerie in the next room. When warned they will take care of her if he doesn’t sign the confession, Spike gives in.

“It’s the latest thing from Japan.”

He indeed signs the document, but keeps it in hand to tear up if there’s any monkey business. Of course, being an honorable sort, Spike naturally turns over the fake confession as soon as Valerie appears to be free and clear. He gave his word, you know. Only thing for it.

So Valerie is told her mystery informant can’t make the meeting, and goes to leave. Being bad guys, of course, the gang can’t resist going for the double cross. As soon as she’s out of Spike’s sight, they grab her. But naturally they do it ineptly, which allows her to scream.

Thus alerted, Spike jumps the guys guarding him. He then smashes in the mirror and steps through to the other room. There he grabs Valerie and hustles her outside. Reaching Valerie’s car, their escape seems certain. Defeated once again, the crooks radio Abel to apprise him of the situation.

And then we get the moment that reminds you, for as staid an example of the breed as our current subject is (and think about that for a minute), why serials remain so hilarious. For Abel does exactly what you’d expect him to do; to wit, radio a pilot he apparently has on standby 24/7, waiting to jump into his bomber plane and embark upon a mission of destruction the moment Abel calls him.

Ah, I see, the bombs are mounted to the bottom of his wings.

Hey, wait a minute!

So the crooks are chasing Spike’s car when the bomber appears overhead and starts dropping its deadly cargo. Spike manages to avoid the initial explosions, but knows they’re a sitting duck out on the road. So he pulls over and hauls Valerie into a very small wooden cabin.

The gang arrives and keeps them in there by shooting at the cabin. Now, in a previous chapter we saw the gang shoot right through a door, but here luckily their scads of bullets don’t find their targets in the small chamber.

Also, Spike suddenly has a gun himself. Where the hell did he get that? I mean, they easily could have shown him stripping one off a hood back at the Roadhouse. Or they could have shown him removing it from the glove box of Valerie’s car, or even out of her purse. But they didn’t. Sloppy.

However, the plane soon circles in. A final bomb is dropped and it’s a direct hit. The shack is instantly blown to bits, delivering unto our heroes a horrible and seemingly inescapable death….

Michael Bay reimagines Cabin in the Sky.



So…wait now. This episode, the one with the bomber plane and all, was named for the two-way mirror we see for all of about ten seconds?! Lame! And why was the mirror treacherous? Ye gods.

Anyway, let’s get back to something I talked about last time; Spike’s increasingly monotonous inability to save himself. Of the previous seven cliffhangers, Spike had saved himself through his own actions twice. Obviously here he drops again, as the Archer saves him for the fourth time in a row. Spike’s SSP (Self-Save Percentage) now stands at a rather meager 25%. Otherwise the Archer has saved him four times now, and pure, dumb luck (i.e., bad scriptwriting) has spared him twice.

Part of the problem is dealing with the fact that the serial is at least nominally adapted from one of Edgar Wallace’s better known novels. In the book, Spike Holland isn’t even the hero, he’s the second banana, and a reporter, not an insurance investigator.  The Green Archer, for the most part, works in the background, as he does here.

However, the makers of the serial probably realized that a) the name of the damn thing was “The Green Archer,” and b) if they didn’t have him pop up a lot, the kids might forget him. After all, these things played out over 15 weeks, and I doubt a huge percentage of theater patrons managed to catch each and every chapter. That’s why the main sections of these things tend to be so static. Can’t have people miss a few episodes and then be totally confused as to what is going on.

So while Spike is the official hero of the piece, they must have felt like they needed to give the Green Archer enough relevant action to keep him important, and just to remind people that he’s around. Like, remember Elaine, the woman Abel has hidden in the dungeons of his Castle? Oh, yeah, her.

Of  course, that means that they are forced to split the heroics, which risks making Spike looking a tad lame. Indeed, when you get down to it, Spike can barely find his ass with both hands. Not only does he constantly get himself captured and thrown into one deathtrap or other, but where would his ‘investigation’ be if the Archer wasn’t constantly puncturing chairs to send him information on Abel’s activities?

Wallace-O-Meter: Much like what War is good for, absolutely nothin’. Say it again.*

[*Actually, War has proven to be good for many things, such as ending slavery or stopping the Nazis or Imperial Japan.]

Fights: When Abel’s men jump Spike in Garr castle, and at the Roadhouse.

Car Crashes: Nope.

Gunplay: When the cops chase off the crooks, and again at the roadhouse and then the cabin.

Easy Opportunity to Just Shoot Hero Ignored: Oh, yeah.

Valerie Endangered: Yes.

Chair Murdered: Well, a car seat is sort of a chair, so I’m saying yes.

Big Explosion: Shack go boom.


  • Ericb

    I’m going to miss these when you’re done.

  • Ericb

    At this point you have to wonder why the Green Archer hasn’t revealed his identity to Spike and Valerie (I can see why he’d want to keep if from the cops).  Which made me think of some other things (which you will probably runinate on when you get the the big reveal) like (spoiler?):

    In the short interval between the train crash and the the good/”real” archer’s first appearance where did Michael manage to get hold of a Green Archer costume?  And, in the same short interval is it really plausible that he came up with such a convoluted plan to clear his name?

  • Anonymous

    Glad to hear it! I wasn’t sure if these were going over with anyone.

    I might keep it up with a new serial after this one is done, but go with a weekly format, which would be more fitting after all. Saturday morning serials.

  • Anonymous

    I still want to know how he traveled from the Castle, out in the boonies, and into the city to save Spike. Presumably he’s been hiding in the Castle somewhere. After all, he’s not only assumed to be dead, but still convicted of murder. So surely he can’t be comfortable parading himself around out of costume. But on the other hand, it’s hard to imagine him driving around for several hours in that costume, either. I think that was the sort of thing we just weren’t supposed to think about.

  • Ericb

    Maybe he drove to the city wearing civilian cloths but disgusing himself with fake glasses and fake beard or mustache and then changing into the archer costume to save Spike and then changing back into his civilian disguise to drive back to the castle.

  • Extremepenguin

    He must have used the Archerplane.

  • Knowing that it was not in the minds of the writers of the serial, would it not make more sense that The Green Arr…. er Archer be a network of people dedicated to bringing down the town’s mafia, especially Abel’s, and were spurred into action by the train wreck? You can do all kinds of sloppy writing with a secret organization of crime fighters and get away with it.