Fausta Grables

“Fausta, The Nazi Wonder Woman” aired on April 28, 1976. Fausta is the second (and last) villain pulled straight out of the pages of Wonder Woman comic books, although things seem to turn out a bit differently for TV Fausta than they did for TV Baroness. This is Fausta’s only appearance on the show, which is too bad because Lynda Day George was an accomplished actress who could really dig her teeth into this kind of wacky material. Her husband, Christopher George is also in this episode, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

We open on a mysterious German castle. Title in: Top Secret Nazi Intelligence Headquarters, Somewhere in Germany – 1942.

Wait…Somewhere in Germany?

It’s Berlin. The top-secret headquarters are in Berlin. Even Steve Trevor knows that, so this seems a little insulting to the viewer.

OK, fine, most of the original broadcast viewers for this show were probably either 5 (like me) or stoned (like my babysitter), so I’m willing to let it slide.

Inside the Top Secret Nazi Headquarters: Nazis!

Apparently, Nazis spend a lot of time discussing their career hopes and dreams with one another. Colonel Kesselman (Bo Brundlin) is paranoid that Fausta Grables is after his promotion. Brundlin is Swedish, and his German accent is the least offensive in the episode, so he does have that going for him.

Fausta is icy blond and beautiful, with neatly braided Disney Princess hair. Despite her keen intelligence, strength, and impressive record as an Olympic champion, the Colonel doesn’t respect Fausta, reinforcing Wonder Woman’s dialogue in previous episodes about the sexist nature of Nazi culture.

Fausta shows the Colonel footage from the pilot episode (an admirable bit of meta fictional footage recycling) but the Colonel dismisses this Wonder Woman as Hollywood propaganda. Nevertheless, on Hitler’s orders, they launch Operation Fraulein. The objective: capture Wonder Woman and take her to Berlin so the Nazis can study her.

Fausta’s plan: bait her trap with Major Steve Trevor. Which isn’t a figure of speech. She actually has a trap.

Fausta and her henchmen head to Washington, D.C. and easily infiltrate the War Department disguised as a cleaning crew. She gases Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner) and takes him to a warehouse.

faustagas

The next day, Yeoman Diana Prince (Lynda Carter) is concerned because Steve isn’t at work. Corporal Etta Candy (Beatrice Colen) smirks and reminds Diana that Steve is a manslut. Ok, that’s not exactly what she says, but there’s a lot of smirking and innuendo about why Steve is AWOL.

Etta, in her role as plump, non-threatening gal-pal, is frequently shown shoving food in her mouth or offering Diana food, which Diana always refuses.

Etta offers Diana a donut, which Diana refuses.

Fausta places an anonymous call to the War Department, telling Diana she found a letter on the sidewalk from a Major Steve Trevor directing whoever finds the letter to call the War Department and summon Wonder Woman to a warehouse to rescue him.

The trap is set!

Wonder Woman does her slow-motion spin transformation and hides her clothes.

At the Warehouse Wonder Woman barges in and kicks henchman ass. Fausta is unimpressed. She, too, can kick ass. But then…she sees Wonder Woman use her golden lasso of truth on a henchmen, easily locating where they’ve stashed mansel in distress Steve.

Fausta totally wants that lasso.

Wonder Woman is polite and thanks people after they tell her the truth. I think that’s nice.

Fausta lures Wonder Woman into a new trap by “appealing to her sense of competition.” She impersonates Wonder Woman at a federal war bonds rally outside the War Department. It works! While Steve and Etta watch, Wonder Woman and her impersonator do Feats of Strength to inspire people to buy war bonds.

Steve and Etta exchange a bit of awkward dialogue about what a shame it is that Diana is off giving blood and hence missing yet another chance to see Wonder Woman.

I’m pretty sure that was hilarious to me when I was a kid.

Onstage, Wonder Woman falls through a trap door in the stage. A henchman chloroforms her, uses her own lasso on her, and learns her belt is the key to her strength.

Fausta and the henchmen take her belt and shove Wonder Woman in a cab. Fausta, as Wonder Woman, fails to flirt with Steve before they make their getaway.

Steve smells a rat!

Steve and Etta commandeer a cab and take off in pursuit of the phony Wonder Woman. Steve nearly crashes into a fallen tree he should have been able to see from half a mile away and which he could easily have driven around, so don’t get your hopes up that he’s suddenly gotten smarter.

Then Steve runs out of gas, foiling any further attempts to rescue Wonder Woman as the Nazis disappear into the distance.

The Nazis load Wonder Woman into a plane. Before the plane takes off, they peel away a decal, revealing the swastika on the plane, which seems like something you shouldn’t do until you’re well clear of U.S. airspace…

naziplane

Back at the War Department, General Blankenship (Richard Eastham) won’t let Steve go to Germany to rescue Wonder Woman, instead sending him on a furlough to rest for a few days.

Steve sneaks away and uses his furlough to hitch a ride to England.

In Berlin the Colonel continues his paranoid monologue about his impending promotion and Fausta’s career ambitions.

Oh, and they also unload Wonder Woman, who is still powerless without her belt or lasso.

In England, Steve tracks down his old buddy Charlie (Jeff Cooper). They exchange some lines about their days as football heroes and about how Steve threw Charlie the winning touchdown pass in the Rose Bowl. Charlie just happens to be flying a mission over Berlin that night! And Steve needs to get to Berlin that night!

Steve parachutes into Berlin and meets his contact, Resistance fighter Rojak, who is played by Fausta’s real-life husband, Christopher George.

It may surprise you to learn that Rojak is a Nazi spy!

It takes a while for Steve to catch on that Rojak is a Nazi spy, despite the fact that Rojak leads him around in circles instead of taking him to Nazi HQ. Apparently, the first 3 times they pass that same piece of scenery, Steve just thinks they’re in a Scooby Doo episode.

Luckily, a fraulein with the Resistance knocks Rojak out with a shovel and rescues our mansel in distress. For now, Steve stays conscious.

Meanwhile, the Colonel and Fausta use the lasso to question Wonder Woman, even though he doesn’t believe it actually works.

Wonder Woman explains that the women on Paradise Island are super strong and super smart because they aren’t hindered by an environment of toxic masculinity. Fausta seems to dig that idea. The Colonel thinks it’s poppycock.

While the Colonel is mwahahaha-ing, Wonder Woman gets her accessories back, frees herself, fights Fausta, deflects some bullets with the Bracelets of Submission, and saves herself.

Wonder Woman appeals to Fausta’s womanly intelligence and womanhood. It doesn’t work…or does it?

Wonder Woman steals a plane and flies back to Washington, D.C.

As Diana Prince, she arrives at the War Department the next morning to learn that Steve is being held prisoner at Gestapo Headquarters.

I remember watching Wonder Woman with my friends. I think we all assumed it was canon that the General knew Diana was also Wonder Woman. Maybe she didn’t know he knew, but he knew. Much like in this scene, he often steps into the foreground, stares into the distance, and intones something along the lines of: “I sure hope that Wonder Woman knows this thing only you and I and Etta know, Diana! And I hope she can get there and back in the next 2 days of storytime because that’s all the furlough time I can give you.”

Fine. Ok. We were 5 so we didn’t know words like “canon.” We just believed. In retrospect, I now believe those scenes were just campy writing, directing, and acting. General Blankenship seems to be as clueless as Steve, reinforcing the message that the women are the brains behind any operation, be they American or Nazi.

In her office, Diana spins into Wonder Woman and uses her creepy voice mimicry skills to make a few calls as General Blankenship. Then it’s back to Berlin and into another devious trap.

This time, Steve is chained up in a dungeon. When Wonder Woman breaks into his cell, the walls begin to close in! These sorts of death traps were a common and little-appreciated danger to television heroes for decades. Even if you don’t remember them, you surely know George Lucas’s homage to the trope in Star Wars.

They escape before the walls crush them, racing into the hallway and…falling through a trap door, because Gestapo HQ is apparently basically a human-sized version of the game mousetrap (Mausefalle?).

The Colonel has them now! Steve and Wonder Woman land in a water trap reinforced with an electrical contraption which the Colonel will use to electrocute them if Wonder Woman doesn’t spill her secrets.

Of course, Wonder Woman already spilled her secrets, but the Colonel didn’t believe her.

Wonder Woman refuses to speak to anyone other than Fausta.

Wonder Woman raises Fausta’s consciousness about male oppression, and Fausta in turn enables Steve and Wonder Woman to escape.

Fausta decides that she will become a leader in the Resistance. Wonder Woman proclaims her “An example to women all over the world who want to be free!”

When Steve and Diana return to work at the War Department in Washington, D.C., Steve won’t divulge any details about his time with Wonder Woman, telling Etta and Diana that he doesn’t kiss and tell.

Diana punches Steve in his pretty face.

No, not really. Diana smiles brightly in the face of Steve’s innuendo, accepts his compliment on her typing skills, and swallows her feminist rage.

Etta admires Steve’s bravery and courage, which will no doubt bring the war to a close 6 months sooner!

Pretending to hear about Fausta’s change of allegiance for the first time, Diana remarks: “Maybe all women can do wonders if put to the test!” This leads Steve to marvel: “That’s exactly what Wonder Woman said!”

Oh, Steve!

This episode contains:

  • Bullet-deflection
  • Bracelets of Submission
  • Chloroform
  • Consciousness Raising
  • Devious Traps
  • Feats of Strength
  • Golden Lasso (Lasso of Truth)
  • Henchmen
  • Impersonation
  • Knockout Gas
  • Nazi Spies
  • Mansel in Distress
  • Spinning
  • Unconscious Steve Trevor
  • Voice Mimicry
  • Womanly Badassery
  • Wonder Woman in Bondage
  • Please clap.
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