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Wonder Woman (1975): Episode 8 Review

blackboard scene in episode 8 of Wonder Woman (1975)

Wonder Woman (1975) episode 8 offers a lot of bang for your buck, with plotlines and narrative twists building in a fashion not previously seen on the show. 

Isn’t it a pity we aren’t all on the same side?” – The Falcon

The explosive opening of Wonder Woman episode 8 (“The Pluto File”) sees a pair of scientists – Professor Otis Warren (Hayden Rorke) and Charles Benson (Albert Stratton) – putting on a demo for General Blankenship (Richard Eastham) and Major Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner) that showcases a technique they’ve developed for inducing earthquakes. The boffins reckon that this technique would be real handy outside of wartime for predicting and preventing natural disasters (they don’t elaborate how), but, seeing as it’s 1942, will just as well make for a weapon to use against the Axis. 

However, as it generally happens in Wonder Woman (1975), the Nazis have already heard about this tippy-top American military-secret (codename: the Pluto project), and quite fancy getting their own hands on it. This time around the Nazis have hired a dashing British mercenary known as The Falcon (Robert Reed) to enter the U.S., and steal some documents on how all this earthquake inducing can be achieved. As ever, the first part of their plan is easily managed.

You’d really think the Amerians would be more cautious about these super-secret projects of theirs at this point. They had trouble with moles and enemy infiltration in episodes one, two, and four, they got their secret plane nicked in episode five, and they couldn’t keep their own defected Nazi close enough in episode seven. In any other show, the focus on, and the exaggeration of, this frequent series occurrence in Wonder Woman episode 8 would perhaps mark the logical conclusion to said characteristic, but I imagine it won’t be. 

Once The Falcon has entered the U.S. then, and stolen the Pluto project files too, it’s revealed that: 1) Charles Benson (one of the American scientists) is also working for the Nazis, 2) The Falcon picked up the bubonic plague in India two weeks ago without knowing it (I’m not kidding), and 3) this gentleman-mercenary plans to use the Pluto project technique to jeopardise another totally secret American project known simply as ‘741’. This project 741 happens to be a nuclear reactor that, when put under strain, is likely to totally level the whole of Washington D.C. As this all unfolds, it’s never really clear whether this is what the Nazi plan has been all along, or if The Falcon is just making it up as he goes.

project 741 in episode 8 of Wonder Woman (1975)
Episode 8 of Wonder Woman (1975) (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Due to this, Wonder Woman episode 8 seems a little delirious. The problems stack and stack and stack to previously unreached heights, with Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter) and Steve Trevor dealing with an infamous mercenary, stolen military documents, an outbreak of bubonic plague (I’m not kidding), the usual Nazi agents, a string of man-triggered earthquakes, and, ultimately, an oncoming nuclear meltdown. Any intention of being easy-to-follow is thoroughly abandoned, and a narrative that would ordinarily justify an entire sleepy ‘60s sci-fi show is shoved and squeezed into but fifty minutes of this one instead. 

And, if Wonder Woman episode 8 didn’t already sound to you like one of those rattling rollercoasters that’s maybe going too fast, and could probably do with some maintenance, get a load of this bit of trivia: “The Pluto File” was aired on Christmas Day, 1976. Whoever in America was sitting down to watch this after a day of eating and drinking with their loved ones back in ‘76, I really don’t know. Although, perhaps Christmas-time telly wasn’t as big a deal in ‘70s US as I remember it being in noughties England. 

To end on a less holiday-related and more serious note, the occasional concerned glance from Diana Prince, and the questions of clarification from Steve Rogers in Wonder Woman episode 8 do possibly allude to what this episode was really trying to get at – that, even in the 1940s, perhaps technology was getting out of hand. Controlling tectonic plates, and generating enough power to evaporate cities? That’s unnatural, greedy, and nothing good can ever come of it. Perhaps story writer Herb Bermann and series director Herb Wallerstein reckoned the telly-watching public of 1976 could do with that reminder, and the creatives of today are still producing media that attempts to grasp the ramifications of such pursuits, like Godzilla Minus One (2023) and Oppenheimer (2023), for example. 

Unfortunately, these worried looks and disbelieving questions from Diana and Steve aren’t centred in the episode quite like the escalating story beats and so this could, of course, be a misinterpretation on my part.

Episode 8 of Wonder Woman (1975) is now available to watch on digital and on demand.

Wonder Woman (1975): Episode 9 Review – Loud And Clear
Wonder Woman (1975) episode 9 serves as a particular example of the show’s procedural, easy-watching, daytime-telly nature.
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