3 Hours Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

Headscratchers / Mission: Impossible

Television Series

  • According to her dossier, Cinnamon was a world-famous model. Why didn't anyone ever recognize her?
    • Cinnamon went on her missions without the hours of professional makeup and hairstyling, designer wardrobe, and expert lighting that are used for her cover shoots.sp
  • How much of the IMF's budget is devoted to setting up all those dead drops for the self-destructing briefing tapes?
    • That's probably a very large part of their budget since keeping the IMF secret is probably their top priority. They certainly don't care about the safety of their agents, considering the disavowal policy. The IMF is the agency that the government uses when it needs something done that can only be done illegally. If anyone ever penetrated the system of self-destructing briefings, the careers of important people would be ruined.
  • How old is Grant? In the original series Barney is seen flirting with women (Because he wants to, not because the mission requires he get close to said women) into the early seventies. If one of them is Grant's mother, than Grant would be barely out of high school during the second series.
  • What did the team do with the profits from their missions? Many of the episodes end with them conning or outright stealing millions, sometimes tens of millions of dollars from their opponents, and that's not even counting the three hundred million in gold bullion from "The Legacy".
    • Its what covers the aforementioned large budgets needed to cover the dead drops, equipment, travel costs, etc, the team relies upon. Much as property seized by the police is used to fund further operations.

Mission: Impossible 1

  • In the Black Vault, why don't they set it up to just turn off the computer whenever the technician is out of the room? Or don't even turn it off entirely; just put it to sleep. Make it so that the mouse and keyboard are unresponsive until the guy opens the door and all the lights change and so forth. It would be a heckuva lot easier to set up than all the other sensors and such, and it would've thwarted Ethan.
    • Having that in addition to all the other security might have been a serious problem for Ethan, but they probably believed that any more protection than they had would be overkill. Just turning the computer off without having any sensors in the room would mean that Ethan could be in there doing practically anything at all and you'd have no way of knowing about it, and whatever mechanism you use to make the computer unresponsive could surely be bypassed with enough effort. If you disable the mouse and keyboard he could bring his own mouse and keyboard. If you cut off all power to the room he could bring a portable power supply. If you disconnect something inside the computer, he could reconnect it. He could even disassemble the entire computer and smuggle it out in pieces.
    • Perhaps they tried something like that and the system was faulty, not coming up again when the technician re-entered the vault or not doing so fast enough..
    • Most places that work with classified information have a standing policy that if you leave your desk, you have to lock the computer so that nobody else can access the files on your account without entering your password. The Black Vault should have had such a policy, though the fact that the operator was seriously ill at the time he left the vault may have caused him to forget.
    • Actually Ethan had to enter his password after the tech left in order to access the computer, so it did lock the system when he left.
  • When Ethan first sees Phelps alive, he doesn't suspect that he was the mole. But when Phelps distinctly accused Kittridge of being the mole, Ethan did start putting together that he was the mole. Why?
    • Because Kittridge being the mole didn't fit the facts as Ethan knew them, and Phelps overplayed his hand in trying to pin it on Kittridge. Ethan had an epiphany that it must have been Phelps and Claire working together, though because of his feelings for Claire he then decides it might have been just Phelps. If you watch Phelps during Ethan's explanation of how the team was killed you can see him wondering if Ethan is buying it.
      • What "facts" did Ethan know that it didn't fit exactly?
      • Hard facts would be difficult, but I imagine that for one thing it just didn't make sense... Kittridge isn't really a direct action field agent sort of guy, so if he was the mole he would likely frame another administrator, not a team of field agents. Too his position meant he could have done a much more competent frameup job than was being done, and would be focused on killing Ethan rather than bringing him in... if Ethan's brought in, the story risks unraveling as he's questioned. But it was probably more of an intuition... Ethan realized that there was no one besides Kittridge that he would have loved the mole to be at that moment. The guy's hunting him, persecuting him, fucking with his family... it would be just too perfect if he was also the bad guy that Ethan could save the day by killing. Phelps was telling Ethan exactly what he wanted to hear... which Ethan knew was bullshit, at that point, because nothing he wanted to happen was happening at that point.
    • It is implied/said that Ethan did suspect Jim when he saw him (On the train, Ethan says "before London, but after you took the Bible from the Drake hotel in Chicago", when Jim asks when Ethan figured it out.), but he presumably played along throughout the scene. It may be that Ethan's imaginings of Jim being the killer were shown where they were for audience convenience, that Ethan knew in general, but only worked out the details in the scene, or that Ethan had worked out some details before, but only nailed them down during that scene.
  • When they were in the Black Vault, why didn't Ethan just knock out the technician? The door would probably have muffled the sound of him falling and he would have had time to get everything.
    • Because they're trying to steal the NOC list without leaving a trace that they were even there and what they were after (the IMF are covert agents, after all). It's such sensitive material that Ethan doesn't let Luther and Kreiger know what they're stealing until he's already stealing it. There's also another person stationed right outside the room, and descending from above is not exactly prime position to get a clear blow; that's too much risk considering any alert to their presence puts the entire vault into lockdown and presumably inescapable. They're trained to be ghosts, as Kittridge put it earlier, so it would make sense that they would try to take the list without confrontation or detection (aside from the security guard they had to incapacitate when their cover was blown). It would also be pointless to knock out Donloe before he got to the vault and try to double as him with a mask, because part of the entry system was a retinal scan, which they couldn't fake with their limited resources.
  • Why doesn't the Vault have a motion sensor? One that would turn on when Donloe left the room (like the floor sensor?)
    • This is addressed on the YMMV page. The room was already ridiculously secure, at some point even the IMF has to say "Enough." And even if it had a motion sensor, Ethan and crew would have just found some way around that too, since that was the point of the scene. Saying "Why didn't the room have-" would just lead to an ever-escalating game of cat and mouse that would take up three hours to play out and still not satisfy everyone who would think "Well why didn't it have this one extra thing that would have caught them?" It's sort of the equivalent of hearing that the dark matter tanker had its 7000 hulls torn through and asking why they didn't build it with 7001.
      • Not really. Motion sensors are pretty standard stuff that you can find at a local library. Questioning why the biggest intelligence agency in the world to not invest in a commonplace security measure isn't constantly demanding they think up a better one than they currently have, it's common sense.
      • It just seems like it would have been much better protection than say, the heat sensor, which was pretty much useless as two people being in the room at the same time didn't trigger it, or the sound sensor, which was defeated just by Ethan being quiet. On the other hand, this is the government we're talking about...
      • The security system is fairly sensitive as is. I imagine they tried putting in a motion sensor system and found a lot of false alarms.
  • Why doesn't Phelps shoot Ethan right after he's disabled him in the baggage car?
    • Because he's a villain in an action movie and if he killed the hero the movie would be over in a sucky way.
    • Because he only managed to smuggle two bullets onto the train, and he felt more betrayed by his wife than his protege, so he shot her first. His second bullet went into the ceiling when Ethan tackled him, and then he was out.
  • Does any else think it's morally dubious for Ethan to risk the lives of every American spy in the world just to clear his name and improbable that the IMF would rehire him after this stunt? (Max very nearly manages to upload the file.) Giving a NOC List to an arms dealer is itself enough of a reason to be disavowed even if you're planning on trying to stop them from copying it.
    • Morally dubious stunts are the IMF's entire reason for existence. If a job can be done within the bounds of morality and the law then the US government has officially recognized agencies that can take care of it. You can rarely count the number of crimes the IMF commits on the fingers of one hand in any episode of the television series, and those crimes go all the way up to murder in more than a few episodes. Doing bad stuff doesn't get you disavowed; you only get disavowed if you get caught.
      • Ethan had just gotten the actual list of all of their Eastern European agents out in the open after breaking into his own workplace with the help of two criminals and ruined the career of a competent employee. Really there was nothing the mole could have done that would be remotely as damaging as what nearly happened, especially since Ethan could have just made a fake. In reality he'd be incredibly lucky for them to decide not to risk the publicity of a trial, let alone getting his job back. But, obviously there'd be no sequel if that was mentioned so it was quietly ignored.
      • Ethan had to use an authentic list because Max checked the list against at least some of the agents that she already knew the identities of. Note that her minion cross-checks the list on his laptop and she doesn't tell Ethan where the payment is until they get a match with a known agent. Without an authentic list the deal with Max is off and Ethan loses his only chance to meet Job.
      • I still think it's a very questionable thing for someone who's supposed to be Our Hero to do. I mean, yes, he puts Luther on the train to stop the upload but for all he knew his hacker associate could have had a heart attack and dropped dead the moment he sat down and Ethan would have been entirely responsible for the resultant spy-holocaust.
  • When Ethan first decides to contact Max, all he has to go on are the words "Max" and "Job 314". So he sends dozens of emails, in multiple languages, to addresses such as "Max@Job314.com" (You can see this on freeze frame). How the hell did that work? If Max uses email at all, wouldn't it be something innocuous like "PhilPeterson@aol.com"? Yet apparently Ethan gets it correct just by guessing.
    • It doesn't make sense. The best I can do is point out that Ethan seems surprised when he succeeds.
    • He goes to various Bible discussion forums online and sends e-mails to anyone who looks like it may be Max that he finds in the threads that deal with the book of Job - he's not sending e-mail to completely random addresses. The number of forums and discussion groups online was a little more limited in the early '90s than it is today, so he had a decent chance of finding the right one if he visited enough of them. Max says when she meets him that she didn't think it was really Job trying to contact her, as he didn't use Job's usual style, but she was curious.
      • Ok, but why is Max posting on bible discussion groups in the first place? Does she actually have a passion for biblical analysis? I doubt it. If I were contacting a secret agent named "Tiger" or something, I wouldn't feel compelled to go on some tiger forums and post comments about tigers. What's the point of all that? And if this bible-talk is a coded method of communication between Max and Job, why don't they do it more privately? Why make public Usenet posts, when email works just fine?
    • Max is an arms dealer- she is buying and selling illegal merchandise all the time, so she needs some sort of secret way for new buyers and sellers to contact her since she can't exactly advertise it publicly. She and her contacts are using internet sites as a front for that purpose. Jim found this out, and contacted her through it, then left breadcrumbs for Ethan to realise it himself (though in the film it is actually Kittridge that tells Ethan about Job 3:14, so this was probably a Batman Gambit on his part, gambling that he would inform Ethan about Job- he did plant the Drake Hotel Bible exactly opposite the laptop in his office so Ethan could see it however).
  • Why did Jim take the bible from the Drake hotel in Chicago? As Max says, Job doesn't quote scriptures. So what use does he have for it?
  • Why leave Ethan alive? Jim's plan basically makes no attempt at killing him. Now one might say "So he's got a fall guy! If everyone's dead, there'll figure out who it is by whose dead body is missing!" but seeing as no one at the CIA figured out Jim was alive, that doesn't seem to make sense (Plus people would notice one of the corpses is missing either way).
    • The whole opening mission is a mole hunt. If everybody on the team is killed then the CIA goes "wait a minute, then who was the mole we were looking for?" They would have to investigate further to determine what happened, possibly discovering Jim's true role. By delivering Ethan as the mole Jim has a better chance at a clean get away because he's giving the CIA what they expected to find with this op and they can move on.