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Wonder Woman (1975): Episode 13 Review

Two people sit at the dinner table and another person stands opposite them in Episode 13 of Wonder Woman (1975)

Wonder Woman (1975) episode 13 features an uncharacteristically low number of Nazi agents, and takes place way out there – in the state of Texas.

…I want to be much bigger and stronger, like you.” – Sen

Wonder Woman (1975) episode 13 is entirely empty of Nazis. Yes, you read that right, there’s not a one of ‘em to be seen. This is the first episode of the show to contain zero Nazis and so you might be thinking: “who are to be the baddies? Who’s going to take up that mantle?” You might even go so far as to wonder: “will there be a surprise appearance from someone in DC’s gallery of rogues? Will Wonder Woman be facing off against Swamp Thing, or Queen Clea perhaps?” 

The answer to these possible questions of yours is: no. For, filling the role of antagonist in Wonder Woman episode 13 is a group of men who… well, who steal cows. I know that sounds rather odd, so I’ll try to explain the best that I can. You see, this episode opens in rural Texas, where a ranch owner has woken to realise he’s been robbed of a hundred cattle overnight. He calls the police, but they’re not much use, and so he then rings an old pal in Washington D.C. – do you see where this is going? 

Said old pal just so happens to be our General Blankenship (Richard Eastham), who, upon hearing that his mate’s cows are being stolen (rather than being slaughtered and sent in sacks to the U.S. military), decides to put Major Steve Trevor on the case. Steve (Lyle Waggoner) is the head of Blankenship’s wartime intelligence unit, and so there’s surely nobody better suited to investigate the theft of some Texan cattle. It sounds a bit like the General is happy for any reason to send Trevor out of the office, doesn’t it? Anyway, Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter), knowing that if she lets Steve out of her sight for even a moment he’s likely to get captured, imprisoned, tortured, or just simply murdered, follows him southward. 

Episode 13 felt to me like a Wonder Woman parody at first, or as if somebody who didn’t want the reins was forcibly given control of this episode, and so elected to take the p*ss for fifty minutes. It all runs like it might be satirical, transplanting the usual Wonder Woman formula into a crime show set in the Texan countryside to highlight how inconsequential the show’s locations and stories can often be. Also, there’s this curious plot about corrupt police officers who have hired some thieves to steal cows, which they then sell to mobsters. It’s all a bit funny really. It’s a bizarre episode, and it sticks out amongst what I’ve seen so far like a sore thumb, as they say. 

Wonder Woman stands with a new uniform and her arms crossed in Episode 13 of Wonder Woman (1975)
Episode 13 of Wonder Woman (1975) (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

As you may have construed, I was quite blind-sided by the whole thing, and I remain in two minds about it. There are, at the risk of belittling your intellect with the stating of an obvious fact, positives and negatives to Wonder Woman episode 13. For the sake of appearing an optimist, I’ll start with listing my positives. 

As I’ve mentioned, there are no Nazis, and this is rather refreshing, for their continued presence can be quite tiresome. Wonder Woman’s cape makes a fleeting and inexplicable appearance – a sight so rare for me to celebrate it as an occasion. Beyond the cape, Wonder Woman is also provided with an outfit outside of her usual Yeoman disguise, her dainty Paradise Island pyjamas, or her tight-fitting hero costume, which is worth noting for being (as I’m aware) the only time this happens in the first series. 

There’s a charming subplot about a group of adopted orphans, which, in a show often devoid of emotional depth, was very welcome. And, finally, the camera moves more in episode 13 than I have perhaps seen it move all series thus far (largely due to a few chases involving cars and horses, tracked at speed by the operator), which lends the whole thing a fun kineticism, even providing the story a (debatably illusory) fast pace that (regardless) feels like a bolt of lightning when compared to some of the neighbouring episodes.

Now, for the sake of continuing my appearance as an optimist, I begrudgingly list my negatives. As I’ve already mentioned, there are no Nazis in Wonder Woman episode 13, but their replacement simply being a group of blokes keeping beef away from the U.S. army feels like a severe lowering of the usual stakes (note the pun). 

Wonder Woman is provided a new outfit, as I have also mentioned, but it looks even more uncomfortable than her usual costume, and seems to expend some effort in trying to be somehow more provocative than her wispy Paradise Island threads too. Couple the consequence of this outfit being that Carter’s cleavage is more on show than it yet has been, with the story-beat that Wonder Woman without her belt is “just another woman” (and so, easier to physically abuse), episode 13 seems to have adopted the backwardness of its setting that Texas is so globally reputed for. 

Whether being almost totally at odds with the rest of the series (even that bit with the aliens) means that Wonder Woman episode 13 is a forgettable misstep or a memorable highlight will surely vary with the viewer. I myself give it credit for being different, but perhaps it is only so because the producers had exhausted their rolodex of actors willing to play Nazis by this penultimate episode, and so hoped the audience wouldn’t notice when they cobbled something together that instead involved American antagonists. Of course, it is also possible that this episode (despite its appearance) was not born of some production mishap, but is actually the baby of some sincere ‘70s creatives. Gosh, isn’t that a thought? 

Episode of Wonder Woman (1975) is now available to watch on digital and on demand.

Wonder Woman (1975): Episode 14 Review – Loud And Clear Reviews
Wonder Woman episode 14 sees out the first series of ‘70s Wonder Woman, and brings together a lot of the show’s best bits to do so.
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