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In the episode "For Art's Sake" (S02E10) of the 1988 run of Mission: Impossible when Nicholas, disguised as Minister Ocha, is lead by Travers into his vault, he achieves to film Travers typing a numbered door code into the panel next to the vault door, using some kind of pin camera. But later, when Grant and Max break into Travers' vault to mess with his paintings, they use some kind of code cracking device to determine and type in the code.

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But why did they need this elaborate method of cracking the code at all? Shouldn't they have known the code from Nicholas' camera and could have just typed it in normally? Or was it that they didn't want to touch the code panel for some reason? Was this just some kind of inconsistency or did I maybe miss anything here that makes this a little more coherent?

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    seems that they wanted a reason to use the [Safecracking Trope] (tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Safecracking) - maybe for a more dramatic effect? – Luciano Mar 10 '16 at 15:57
  • What's the timing of first, second and third scene ? – user30432 Mar 11 '16 at 23:22
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    @noob I don't know. The first two images are when Nicholas, disguised as Minister Ocha is led by Travers into the vault and the third one is when Grant and Max break into it, as the question explains. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 11 '16 at 23:24
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+100

You missed out a thing. Tune to following time if you have that episode.

00:37:45 --> 00:37:48

GRANT: Palm print identifier, sensor detonation. Quite a minefield.

Here Grant analyses the pictures taken by the cuff camera. Those are static photos (note the shutter effect) of the types of security checks, paintings and other stuff. They're used as a point of reference, telling them where the keypad is (they didn't see it last time, when they tried to follow him and the signal was blocked) and what kind of keypad it is.

Later they use their cracking device because they don't actually know the code. They just know what kind of check is applied. And even if they did know (since Nicholas could see it being typed), it's probably best not to risk it in case Travers changes passwords frequently and an alarm goes off. It ends up being the same code every time (4193), but better safe than sorry.

Note that when the device is used it processes and correct digits blink which is then typed by them in order to bypass it.

Watch this episode from 35:00 to 40:00. Notice that the cuff camera is static and when they crack the code using device, it blinks the digits first.

  • No, what Grant is talking about there is the security for the actual painting inside the gallery, not the gallery door. The painting is indeed secured by an actual palm sensor. That's not the code field at the entrance of the gallery that the question is talking about. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 11 '16 at 23:02
  • @NapoleonWilson: I have updated my answer. – user30432 Mar 11 '16 at 23:46
  • But why did they not know the code when Nicholas filmed it? So was it only photos they could take? – Napoleon Wilson Mar 11 '16 at 23:55
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    @NapoleonWilson noob is correct: the camera shot photographs, not video (note how it operates). Of course, it still makes little sense because if Nicholas had a clear shot, he could obviously see the code being typed in and could've just tell them what it was. Seems they just ignored that fact so they could use a cool device later. – Walt Mar 12 '16 at 10:21
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    (...On the other hand, they probably couldn't afford the risk. Travers might be the kind of person who changes his passwords frequently, and if they typed in the wrong code, it could've triggered an alarm. So it might make some sense just to use the device, I guess.) – Walt Mar 12 '16 at 11:26

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