While Simon has always been marvelous and magnificent at stepping into his roles, I suppose I do have to admit that there was one villain that I didn’t quite find believable. However, the reason for that was because Simon played him so believably before the sudden reveal that he was a villain!
I am speaking of Colonel Vasily from the Wagon Train episode The Countess Baronoff Story. For the first half of the episode, Colonel Vasily is a very loyal servant of the Countess, growing absolutely incensed when others don’t seem to pay her the proper respect. His inability to understand that things are done differently in the United States, and his blustering as a result, is somehow adorably sweet and endearing. He also finally admits that he loves the Countess, but she rejects him, saying that she doesn’t love any man yet. Of course, they also feel that getting together would be impossible anyway, due to their different social stations.
About halfway through the episode, Vasily abruptly changes gears once it looks as though the Countess is coming to care for Flint McCullough, one of the show’s main characters. He storms into the Countess’s wagon with a weapon and threatens her, revealing himself to be a revolutionary who wants the money she is traveling to get hold of in Alaska. He also says that he had hoped to get her to care about him rather than to have to go about his plans in this way. Hence, it seems he never loved her at all.
The rest of the episode plays out in that manner, with Vasily as a very dangerous, merciless force with which to be reckoned. Eventually he leads the protagonists into a situation where there is no choice but to shoot him down.
The switch was so jarring that I had a difficult time accepting it. By the episode’s end, I still hadn’t fully done so. He came across as so very sincere in the first half. His longing looks at the Countess all but broke my heart. It was very hard to comprehend that it was all a fraud.
I’m still not sure I have determined that. No one saw him looking at the Countess those times, and no one but she knew his feelings for her, anyway; he wouldn’t have needed to keep up appearances. Part of me continues trying to decide whether he did love her and her rejection made him snap and decide to enact his dark motives, which he might not have otherwise done. The other part wonders if it was just bad writing that caused the switch to him being a villain. A third part wonders if it is just the silly fantasies of an enamored fangirl that makes it so hard to accept that Colonel Vasily was intended to be a villain all along.
Perhaps I never shall know the answer. I only know that, even after the reveal in the middle, cynical, romance-scoffing me kept longing for something to work out so that he and the Countess could be together. It was quite disheartening when things worked out so completely opposite.