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Bring Thandie Newton back to ‘Mission: Impossible,’ you cowards

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Some spoilers for Mission: Impossible – Fallout ahead.

The Mission: Impossible series is one of the rare cinematic universes that doesn’t put too much stock in its own continuity. 

The only common cast members in all six films are Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames. The movies rarely reference events that happened previously in the timeline. There are blessedly few Easter eggs sprinkled in. 

And it’s that previous lack of dedication to worldbuilding that makes Mission: Impossible – Fallout such a different and interesting installment in the franchise.

To spoil just a few points in Fallout, one of the new characters in Ethan Hunt’s orbit turns out to be the child of a villain who hasn’t turned up since the first Mission: Impossible. The movie also finds a sincere way to close the door on Ethan’s history with his wife, who has been in hiding since sometime before the events of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. This is also the first Mission: Impossible movie to (kind of) have the same villain as a previous entry, with Sean Harris reappearing as the raspy-voiced international terrorist Solomon Lane. 

Now that the movies seem to be dipping a toe into exploring their continuity, it’s the perfect time for whoever makes the seventh film (and let’s be real, there’s gonna be a seventh movie) to do something very brave, very dope, and more importantly — very possible. 

Bring Thandie Newton back to Mission: Impossible.

Come on, it would be awesome. Newton’s character Nyah Nordoff-Hall hasn’t been seen since Mission: Impossible II, the John Woo–directed sequel that paired her up with Ethan Hunt for a jewel heist, a car chase, some espionage, and a… kind of weird ending where she almost threw herself off a cliff to avoid infecting the world with a super virus. 

It’s high time for Ethan’s first love to reappear and throw a Thandie Newton–shaped wrench in the works.

More importantly, it ends with Ethan and Nyah enjoying a romantic walk in the park, clearly in the beginning stages of a relationship that the franchise dropped like a hot potato in favor of getting Ethan engaged to his future wife in Mission: Impossible III

To be fair, watching II in 2018 makes for a slightly cringeworthy experience, since Newton’s  character is essentially pimped out to her violent ex-boyfriend so Ethan and his team can get inside information about that world-ending virus. While her character is clearly brilliant and capable enough to be a valuable member of Ethan’s team, she is reduced to a half-naked pair of ears for most of the second act — a trope that she somewhat reverses by sacrificing herself to stop the virus from being weaponized and becoming a hero. 

Weird sexpionage aside, Nyah and Ethan have tremendous chemistry together, and by the end of the movie Ethan is clearly bonkers in love with the brave woman who saved the world. So it’s a shame that whatever interesting relationship could spawn between a super spy and the world’s greatest thief was never explored. 

Now that Ethan’s wife is officially out of his reach and there are hints of Ethan having feelings for MI6 agent (and Rogue Nation alum) Ilsa Faust, it’s high time for Ethan’s first love to reappear and throw a Thandie Newton–shaped wrench in the works. 

This isn’t to say that Mission: Impossible 7 needs to have a love triangle to make things interesting. Every Mission: Impossible movie does and should focus on the things that make the franchise great, which are stunning action set pieces, Tom Cruise running all funny, and the inevitable triumph of order over chaos. 

The desire to have Nyah return comes from the emotional fallout of Fallout, one of the first movies in the series that spends considerable time exploring Ethan Hunt’s interiority and the effects of his past on who he grown to become.  

Hunt’s relentless earnestness is a hallmark of the character, and his almost irritating sense of duty and compassion appear in Fallout to be the result of his failures and regrets. Despite Nyah surviving her ordeal, the situation he put her in and their later relationship are two of his unexplained failures. Showing who Nyah became in the aftermath of her entanglement with Hunt would be an opportunity to showcase the master thief as a foil (or mirror) to Ethan’s personal development.

While the Mission: Impossible movies don’t love bringing back characters who factored into past missions (shout out to Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and a number of other actors who are nowhere to be found in Fallout), Newton has the current star power and franchise history to bring something important back to the story. 

She’s been kicking ass all over Westworld and briefly appeared in Solo: A Star Wars Story as a gun-toting space gangster. She’s come a long way from being the 22-year-old ingenue who dazzled Ethan Hunt in a bathtub — she’s an action powerhouse on her own, and her character has always been one who could keep Hunt and his team on their toes. 

Mission: Impossible is one of the world’s most lucrative non-superhero action franchises, and whatever comes next for Hunt & Co. is sure to be a thrilling, enjoyable adventure that nearly kills Tom Cruise on camera again. Newton deserves to reprise her role and take her place at the center of another story, preferably without any gross sex plots or incurable viruses. 

Bring Thandie back. Make Ethan face what he did to Nyah. And please, do it soon. That is my mission for the creators of Mission: Impossible…should they choose to accept it. 

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