Thursday 3 September 2015

The Prisoner - Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling

Episode 13 - Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling

First ITV broadcast: Friday 22nd December 1967, 7.30pm [ATV Midlands/Grampian]
Estimated first run ratings: 7.3 million
First CBS broadcast: Saturday 3rd August 1968, 7.30pm

From the very beginning this episode is different as we have a pre-titles sequence, instead of going straight into the usual title sequence. Three men sit around looking at photos on a projector screen and they want to know where Seltzman is. We have no idea who any of these people are, nor who Seltzman is. When we eventually reach the title sequence, it lacks the Number Two/Number Six speech we normally get at the end; "We want information." "Well you won't get it!" etc. Instead of the usual BAM in the music when we see the episode's title, the music is rather gentle.

In the Village a man (Nigel Stock) comes to see Number Two (Clifford Evans) and their conversation reveals that Professor Seltzman has invented a way to transfer minds between bodies. But Seltzman has disappeared and the last person to see him was Number Six. Why would the Village be interested in mind-swapping? Well Number Two says that two enemies often swap prisoners. What if they could send the body of one prisoner back with the mind of one of their own? I don't know if it sounds rather obvious but I thought that was a brilliant idea of how to use body-swapping.

Nigel Stock takes some convincing that mind/body-swapping is possible

Number Six is dragged from his house by four men in green overalls and white helmets. Meanwhile Number Two is showing the other man their brand spanking new mind-swapping equipment. It's becoming increasingly clear why this man is here. Later Number Two watches Number Six on a screen, hooked up to equipment. "Tomorrow you will wake up a new man."

Number Six wakes up in bed. We see everything from his POV and we can hear his internal monologue. He is at home, not in the Village. He looks at the photo of a woman (Zena Walker) by his bed and thinks about getting Janet's birthday present. Soon he catches a look of himself in the mirror and - AH! He has the body of the other man. A woman, Janet, turns up, demanding to know where "he" is. She's the woman in the photo. Number Six wants to try and explain, mentioning a dress fitting for her birthday but then Janet reveals that this was a year ago and she hasn't seen him since. This is, I think, the first time we have had a specific indication of how long Number Six has been in the Village. Previously there have been mentions of a few weeks or months, but nothing specific and it has been increasingly difficult to work out what sort of period the episodes are meant to be spread over.

Number Six isn't wild about going grey overnight.

He has forgotten an entire year. Worst. Hangover. Ever.

Janet goes to see her father (John Wentworth), who is one of the men in the pre-titles sequence. From their conversation, we work out that Number Six works for this man, 'Sir Charles', as Janet asks her father if he sent Number Six away on a mission. He maintains that he didn't. The scene is an interesting one as it begins to seem quite forced on the part of the writer to avoid having to use Number Six's real name. I'm not sure it feels natural to have someone referred to as 'he' for an entire conversation. Though there is one moment where he isn't. When Janet begins to conversation - without naming the person - Sir Charles replies, "I presume you're talking about your fiance?"

WOAH! Hold back there. I could maybe, perhaps, just possibly accept that Number Six had some sort of girl he was seeing, but a fiance? It just doesn't add up. I wouldn't say Number Six is asexual but in the Village he has certainly never let women, nor men, distract him sexually. He really hasn't shown any romantic inclinations whatsoever and actually, if I was in the Village, there is only so much time you can spend playing chess at the Retirement Home. Number Six though is happy to spend his time working out, drinking coffee at the cafe, and chatting to former admirals. He does not flirt with pretty boys and girls. He needs to concentrate any other energies on escaping. Now it could be argued that Number Six has been saving himself for his fiance back home, but personally I really cannot buy that. That means he's gone without any action for a year when he could have shagged his way round half the Village's 'Guardians' in order to find out how to escape.

Although the above is a large part in my doubting the verisimilitude of this plot angle, a greater element is that I do not believe that the people behind the Village wouldn't have exploited Janet. It is the easiest and one of the oldest blackmail plots there is: if you don't care about yourself, tell me all you know or we'll hurt someone you love. The Village have played a lot of dirty tricks over the past year and some have been quite inventive, so I can't for one moment believe they wouldn't have tried to use Number Six's fiance against him. Sadly, no matter how absurd it is, this plot element still exists.

Moving on, Number Six jumps in his Lotus and we get a sort of reverse of the opening titles as Number Six returns to his former office building, shoves his way in and demands to see someone. The music over this is the same as when the title sequence normally plays, except a few lower notes have been added in. It's a nice touch and I think it works really well. When someone eventually comes to see Number Six he finds it hard to convince them that he is who he says he is. Despite listing his various code names - including the inventive ZM73 - (another and much better avoidance of his real name!) it is pointed out that anything he tells them could have been extracted from the real person whom he is claiming to be. Nonetheless, he is lead upstairs to meet Sir Charles.

We rather boringly follow them up and out of a lift, then see them head down an office corridor. I never think of The Prisoner as looking dated. The Village is very timeless because it is so confined. Even the shots in London from various episode work very well as the roads are filled with red buses and black cabs. The old buildings were there long before The Prisoner and are still there so the outline of London has not changed much in forty-odd years. I am not very familiar with London so perhaps for those that are some of these shots do look different to modern London. But overall I feel that bar some of the cars on the road, The Prisoner can still look fairly modern. Apart from this corridor.

Crappy corridor

Further crappy corridor

It stands out immensely to me compared to everything else. It looks old-fashioned. That's all it is. But because nothing else does, it's starkly obvious. It certainly doesn't seem to fit in with the grand room that is Sir Charles' office. I imagine the ceilings to be nicotine-stained. It's ugly. I don't like it. Or maybe I'm overreacting a tad...

ZM73 identifies himself to Sir Charles who points out like we heard before, that there is no way to know for sure that he is who he says he is. ZM73 tells how he asked Sir Charles' permission to marry his daughter and goes into great detail about the day. It was at this point that it began to hit me what my problem with this episode was. One of my problems anyway. Nigel Stock is a good actor and he is clearly doing his best to play the lead character for a series that has already filmed most of its episodes. However, he just isn't Patrick McGoohan and I find myself missing him immensely throughout this episode. Nigel Stock's Number Six is nothing like Patrick McGoohan's Number Six to the extent that if it had not been for that internal monologue, I would have presumed that the "body-swapping" had never happened and this was some sort of brain-washing designed to break Number Six. This episode is not like 'The Schizoid Man' where even the audience are supposed to begin to doubt who the real Number Six is. That isn't part of the plot of this episode. Nigel Stock needed to be shown an episode of The Prisoner and the director should have been helping him act more McGoohan-y. Either that or it should have been like Quantum Leap where McGoohan could still have played Number Six but when he looked in a mirror he could see the body everyone else in the episode was seeing.

Unable to convince anyone of his true identity, Number Six heads home where his internal monologue wonders whether his handwriting is still the same (it is) and how he's going to get any money, as he could now potentially be done for fraud for using his own chequebook. I had to go and do a tad bit of internet research on this. The very first cash machine was installed in London in June 1967 and it worked using cheques, not cards, so that's out. I presume the only other option was to physically go into a bank and sign something, so there's still the chance of him getting done for fraud by showing that face around. Number Six decides to check his safe and seems really pleased to find a wadge of money in there. Except, er, it looks like US dollars.

Number Six goes to Janet's birthday party. A waiter who resembles Lurch from The Addam's Family serves him a glass of champagne, whilst some odd music plays and the guests all dance out of time to it. Number Six goes and dances with Janet, telling her he left a slip of paper with her. He needs it. Bring it to him outside. She finds him in the gardens (it seems rather similar to 'A. B. and C.') and hands him a receipt. He still needs to convince her that it's really him. So he kisses her and then they snog and it's horrific. But it would have been worse if McGoohan had done it. Number Six definitely does not snog. If he does, Nigel Stock's snog definitely wouldn't have been anything like McGoohan's so god knows how she recognised him just from that.

Number Six does not snog.

Number Six takes his receipt to a camera shop. Lurch lurks outside. The receipt is for some film and he also wants a passport photograph taken. The shopkeeper (Lockwood West) is only in this one scene but he's unforgettable purely because he acts rather oddly and it made me suspicious of him, though this came to nothing. All this business with the photographer being away but he can certainly take the photo himself, in the back room. Hmm.

It turns out the film was slides and Number Six sets up his projector screen in order to see them. He uses the name Seltzman and the letters' position in the alphabet to work out which slides to use. For any readers unfamiliar with slides, photographs could be put onto them, then placed into a projector so you could project a larger version of them and even make little 'slide shows'. They were ideal for boring friends and family with holiday photos long before Facebook. As a child I remember us having a projector screen and I thought seeing ourselves projected enormously was tremendous.

Slides! A great source of excitement.
Number Six layers his slides on top of one another then puts on some special glasses and a secret message is revealed: 'KANDERSFELD, AUSTRIA'. Don't bother opening up your atlases as there's no such place. Number Six consented to being followed so he has been ever since he left Sir Charles Portland's office all the way until he now reaches Dover port. He is followed all the way to Austria and we get some terrible but probably unavoidable back projection. Yet it wasn't this that pushed the boundaries of my suspension of disbelief so much as the fact that I am supposed to believe that Number Six would drive from London to Austria in an open-top Lotus Seven. I'm not even sure it has a boot.

A nice little touch is that when Number Six reaches Kandersfeld, he is greeted by a cafe waiter (Gertan Klauber) who says, "Welcome to the village."

He finds Professor Seltzman (Hugo Schuster), who is going by the name Herr Helland, hiding out as a barber. Things are beginning to feel a bit repetitive as it is again said that any attempt to prove his identity could have been extracted from the real person. Number Six asks whether Seltzman regards handwriting as as unique as a fingerprint. Seltzman believes it is so compares some fresh writing with an old envelope that Number Six had previously sent him. Seltzman is apparently a brilliant scientist but quite clearly does not have even the most basic grasp of fraudulent techniques. Never mind. The handwriting matches. Number Six's followers have caught up with him though and we finally see some action his episode as there is a bit of a scuffle with Patrick Jordan before Lurch (dressed as a bus conductor for some inexplicable reason) appears with a sort of ray gun and they're gassed.

Probably the most poorly directed fight in history.

Lurch came straight from the set of On the Buses

Number Six and Seltzman are taken back to the Village where Number Two needs Seltzman to reverse the mind-swap. Oddly, although the Village have worked out how to swap minds, they do not know how to swap them back. Seltzman says he will do it but insists on doing it alone and apparently needs a third person. The process appears to work but something goes wrong and the Professor dies. The Colonel (Nigel Stock) is taken to his waiting helicopter to leave the Village. Only when he is safely away does Number Six - back in his own body - tell Number Two what the Professor really did. If you haven't guessed it then Number Six spells out that the Professor did a three-swap and transferred his mind into the Colonel's body.

As I have made clear I have a number of problems with this episode. Overall it just isn't very good. There has been so much brainwashing in the series by this point that this episode feels utterly unnecessary. The plot has some large holes too in that we are never shown when Number Six got his memories of the Village back. It's very unclear. Also, Number Six's conversation with Janet indicates that his memory has gone back to the day he resigned, so why didn't he wake up still intending to resign? Why could he only think about Janet's bloody birthday present? Even if we could find various solutions and explanations to the plot holes, 'Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling' is still obscenely dull. McGoohan's absence is a contribution to that as Nigel Stock just cannot lead this series as well, but the writing is also quite tedious. Things happen, there is a plot (sort of) but at the same time nothing really happens. We have to wait until the final act for this week's fight and it's too little too late. McGoohan's Number Six, bar voice-overs, only has one set of lines in this episode and when we hear them right at the end it feels like a thumping reminder of what we've been missing this week.

Having heard bad things I tried to go into this episode with an open mind but the reputation is well-deserved. Curiously, the ratings have dropped off. 'The Schizoid Man' was top with 11.7 million and the series had leveled off comfortably at around the 9 million mark. However 'A Change of Mind' has slumped to 7.5 million and dropped still further this week down to 7.3 million. Maybe (hopefully) everyone was off at Christmas parties on Friday nights through December because after trawling through BBC Genome it looks like there was little worth watching on the other channels.

Next time I believe we have cowboys coming so let's hope things pick up as we head towards the finale.

Be seeing you.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

The Prisoner - A Change of Mind

There has been an unplanned extended break at Visual Mutterings. I was rather busy and then I got a new job so I have been even busier. But I was missing Number Six so I finally found the time to get back to the Village via a raft, a boat, a wooden box and a plane.

Episode 12 - A Change of Mind

First ITV broadcast: Friday 15th December, 7.30pm [ATV Midlands/Grampian]
Estimated first run rating: 7.5 million
First CBS broadcast: Saturday 24th August 1968, 7.30pm

Although each episode's opening titles feature the new Number Two, it does not always feature the voice of the new Number Two. This is completely random as it entirely came down to whether or not there was time and the actor was available to record the voice over dialogue for the titles. If not, Robert Rietty's voice was used and it seems his became the 'stock' voice for Number Two. Now most of the time I find this fine and his voice doesn't really stand out too much from whichever Number Two we see. However this week it just instantly felt wrong and my brain couldn't match Robert Rietty's voice to the new Number Two's (John Sharp) face at all. Also, this far into the series the voice has started to become very recognisable and it does seem a shame that they weren't able to record the voice over for more of the actors.

I am posing as the new Number Two

On with the actual episode and Number Six has constructed his own outdoor gym in the woods. A couple of the other villagers aren't happy that he is snubbing the communal gym and decide to pick a fight with Number Six. If you were going to beat someone up, after their exercise routine seems like a good time to do it. But sadly for them this is Number Six who promptly kicks both theirs arses in.

Number Six ends up in trouble for this and obviously that seems a bit unfair but if the Village is anything, unfair seems a good word to describe it. Number Six waits outside a court room for his turn. Over a loud speaker, everyone waiting can hear what is going on inside the court. Next to Number Six, a woman sobs. I was a bit surprised to see that the Village even bothers with the pretense of courts yet clearly they find one useful for some things. In this case, for potential 'Unmutuals'. After his trial Number 93 (Michael Miller) comes out of the court and on the edge of tears he makes a statement, repeating verbatim what the court says over the speakers. "I'm inadequate!" He has been a bad boy and must change his ways. "Believe me! Believe me!"

Number 93 declaring how awful he is

Unsurprisingly when Number Six gets in there we begin to see just how much of a mockery the 'trials' are. Number Six has been asked to fill out a "written questionnaire of  confession". He is told that he will be judged by the assembled "strictly impartial committee". They are so impartial in fact that there isn't a single woman on the committee, which mostly consists of older men. The Committee Chairman (Bartlett Mullins)  tells Number Six "You are not called before this committee to defend yourself" and a voice coming from a tape, adds "All we ask is for your complete confession." Number Six treats it like the farce it plainly is, ripping up the confession sheet and throwing it in the air. It falls to the ground like confetti, adding to the ludicrousness of the occasion. One of my favourite things about this scene is that every member of the committee is wearing one of the Village's now familiar striped jumpers. Some of them are even in black and white ones, meaning that they are almost all decked out in the traditional criminal garb!

There will be hearings to decide Number Six's fate. He finds Number Two at his house and asks if he is above investigation. "No one is above investigation" comes the reply. Thinking over episodes like 'Hammer Into Anvil', this has certainly become clear by now. Number Two goes on to say "If the hearings go against you I am powerless to help you." It is hard by now to decide whether or not Number Two could be making this up. Just what sort of power does Number Two have over the Village. We know by now that a Number Two's power is not infinite but surely he can still overrule many things in the Village?

Number 86 (Angela Browne) encourages Number Six to join a 'social group'. Number Six may be many things but he has never struck me as a 'people person' therefore it is of no great surprise when his meeting with the Social Group does not go well. Interestingly, it seems to mainly consist of fairly young people and one wonders just how it was they got mixed up in something that brought them to the Village. Some of them look like teenagers and I don't recall seeing anyone so young in the Village before. I recognised one of the members of the Social Group: one Joseph Cuby. He features in an early episode of The Saint and also has a credit in To Sir, with Love.

Number Six has a visit to the doctor's. Leaving, he finds two men in the waiting room, smiling rather oddly. Number Six spots a door marked 'aversion therapy' and peering through the window he spots a man being forced to watch a film. One of the men (Thomas Heathcote) sat outside has a scar on the side of his forehead and he seems rather content with life, smiling often. "Relax, fellow! Relax" he tells Number Six. Number Six's stress levels must be constantly through the roof. Relaxing is exactly the right thing to suggest to him. The man tells Number Six "I'm one of the lucky ones, the happy ones. I was..." "Yes?" "I was Unmutual."

"Please - not odd. Just different..."

Back with the committee, Number Six is classed as 'Unumutual'. Any more complaints from the rest of the Village and he will be up for "instant social conversion." We have no idea what that is but it doesn't sounds particularly pleasant. Number Six is his usual self in that he is rather laid back about events, not taking the Village's absurdities seriously. However, we will soon see the reality of being an Unmutual. An announcement is put out over the loudspeakers "any unsocial interaction with Number Six should be reported immediately." The Village has a group mentality. At the Social Group Six was told to "join in with the group spirit!" and now we see how, common in historical dictatorships, villagers are encouraged to turn on their fellow prisoners. They are all encouraged to act the same, join in group activities and eschew any individuality, right down to their clothes. Yet at the same time, the way the Villagers are told to turn each other in would logically encourage some individuality. If you can trust no one but yourself, then you must surely act for your own self interests. In some, possibly many cases, even group social activities may be a form of individuality, with villagers only joining in to avoid the attention of their overseers.

"Let's see how our loner withstands real loneliness." says Number Two, watching on his screens. Number Six wanders alone in the woods. He doesn't look angry; for once he looks a bit sad. It occurs to me that it must be exhausting constantly defying the Village, constantly looking for ways to escape. Back in the main village, he goes to sit outside the cafe and asks for a coffee. The waiter ignores him and everyone sitting nearby stands up and moves away. They all stand together, watching Number Six.

Hard as nails

At home, Number Six is visited by a help group but he does not want their help. He later goes to sit outside but a sudden baying and viscous mob descend and drag Number Six to the hospital where he is injected with something and wheeled away. He is taken to an operating theatre. He is fully conscious but drugged. As the doctor begins to talk through what she plans to do, I remember that Number Two earlier threatened a more permanent conversion. As lotion is applied to Number Six's head, the grinning man outside the doctor's office pops into my mind. Number Six wakes up in a hospital bed, smiling.

When old ladies are beating you with brollies, you know it's gotten bad
Off his face

He seems very relaxed and stress-free, which must be something of a relief for him by this point. A taxi takes him home and the streets are lined with waving people whilst a brass band can be heard. At home, Number 86 tells Number Six to lie down on a chair, but Six watches her making tea in the kitchen and sees her put a tablet in his cup. After she brings it over, he asks her to go his room to fetch a blanket. Whilst she is gone, he pours the tea into a plant pot. Some of the old Number Six is still in there.

Number Two appears and very quickly the topic of Number Six's resignation comes up. It seems like it has actually been quite a while since Number Six was properly asked about why he resigned. This has been good as it has allowed the series to have some different episodes plots, but it is nice to see this continuity and we realise that they haven't completely forgotten why they brought Number Six there in the first place. Number Six claims his memory is a bit foggy at the moment so Number Two leaves him for now.

Numbers Two and 86 watch Number Six on the screens in Number Two's office, where it emerges that there has been no operation at all. Number Six is simply drugged and despite making yet more tea, Number 86 still can't seem to slip it in Number Six's drink. In fact, Number Six swaps the cups and soon Number 86 is off her face instead.

Number Six goes out alone, returning to his makeshift gym. He brings fist back to hit a punchbag but something stops him. Once again the two thugs turn up and a timid Number Six takes a couple of punches before finding himself again and knocking them both to the ground. HE'S BACK.

He finds Number Six still off her face and picking flowers, repeatedly saying she wants to make Number Two happy. "I have to report" she insists. Number Six hypnotises Number 86, making her think she is with Number Two and so gives her report, spilling the beans about the fake operation. He also gives her some new instructions...

Number Six wears a Tissot watch fact fans

Number Six goes to see Number Six "to continue that little chat". He wants to speak in front of a crowd so he can "inspire" others. On the now-familiar balcony overlooking the village square, Number Six begins to make his speech. He pauses as the clock strikes four o'clock a voice calls out "Number Two is unmutual!" It is Number 86. She keeps shouting. "Social conversion for Number Two!" Number Six changes the tone of his speech; "You still have a choice! You can still salvage your right to be individuals!" "Reject this false world of Number Two! Reject it, now!" The crowd have joined in with Number 86, chanting "Unmutual!" and Number Two is chased from the town square, leaving Number Six the opportunity to quietly slip away.

I found this episode's ending a tad weak but otherwise I enjoyed this episode. It didn't feel particularly revolutionary in that it bears similar ideas to several episodes that have come before. Right back to 'A, B, and C' The Prisoner has looked at mind-control through drugs. There is barely an episode that has gone by that does not focus on Number Six defying the system and the stamping out of individuality in the Village. I forever bear in mind the problem of episode order in The Prisoner but despite my enjoyment of much of 'A Change of Mind', it did feel a bit 'samey'. Here's hoping for something a bit different as we start to approach the end of the series.

Tuesday 19 May 2015

The Prisoner - It's Your Funeral

Episode 11 - It's Your Funeral

First ITV broadcast: Friday 8th December 1967, 7.30pm [ATV Midlands/Grampian]
Estimated first run ratings: 9.3 million
First CBS broadcast: Saturday 10th August 1968, 7.30pm

The new Number Two looks like a Thunderbirds' character. He doesn't look like a real person. I spent the entire episode doubting his ability to actually exist. He's Alan Tracy. A slightly blonder Alan Tracy. He also has absolutely terrible teeth. Despite his resemblance to a puppet and teeth the colour of sandpaper, I liked this Number Two (Derren Nesbitt) a lot. He's a stark change to last week's fearful and paranoid Number Two. When he has a phone call with the mysterious 'Sir' he is clearly nervous but regains his composure quickly afterwards. He is confident and cheerful, certain that his plan will succeed.

But which one is the real puppet?
A young woman, Number 50 (Annette Andre), enters Number Six's house and wakes him, anxious to speak with him. "I'm a number, just like you. Does it matter which?" she says. Number Six is certain she is one of "them" and tells her to go back and report he wasn't interested. "What's the point? They know already." he adds and from then on mockingly raises his voice to make sure the microphones pick him up. Just as Number Six is going to chuck her out, she collapses and Number Two, watching the action from the Control Room, says she was given a drug yesterday. Number 50 comes round and tells Number Six that there is to be an assassination, but he doesn't take her seriously.

Number Six likes his beauty sleep undisturbed
Number Two requests an "activity prognosis" on Number Six. This is interesting as it gives us a chance to see a typical day for Number Six when he's not trying to escape or annoy Number Two. It is rather nicely dull; he goes for a walk, exercises, plays chess, and goes to the cafe. If you like a quiet life, the Village looks pleasant enough but on the other hand, you can see how someone like Number Six would get bored and remain keen to escape.

Number Six sits for a portrait and the painter tells him about 'Jammers', a term Number 50 mentioned. Jammers talk about fake plots to confuse the Observers. However the Observers keep a list of known Jammers so they don't pay attention to their fake discussions. This is supposedly why Number 50 has been ignored about the assassination plot and it is all about to go a bit Boy Who Cried Wolf. She claims everyone in the Village would be punished. The idea of the Jammers is fantastic because it's evidence of an ongoing rebellion against the Village from numerous people. Up until now it has seemed that Number Six was the only person to repeatedly act out. For me this gives the series more verisimilitude as it always seemed odd that every single one of the other prisoners could be so docile.

Whilst Number Six plays Kosho (the fighting sport on the trampolines we have seen previously), Number 100 (Mark Eden) goes into Six's locker and swops his watch for an identical one. When Number Six comes to put it on later he finds it has stopped so heads to the Watchmaker's shop. Number Six finds a small device there that the Watchmaker (Martin Miller) claims is "Just a toy." When Number Six leaves, Number 100 appears from the back of the shop. "Why is it necessary to expose our method?" the Watchmaker asks. He doesn't see what they gain from it. "We add to their confusion." Number 100 tells him.

Number Six examines the radio

Number 100, in a magnificently coloured jacket, with the Watchmaker
Number Six meets Number 50 outside, who reveals that the Watchmaker is her father. Number Six is now interested, especially as he recognised the device as one for detonating explosives. Number 50 tells him the victim is to be Number Two and they go back to see the Watchmaker, who says he is doing it out of principle; "We are prisoners here for life, all of us, and I have met no one here who has committed a crime." He feels he needs to "protest in a manner they cannot ignore." To kill Number Two does at first seem rather a futile gesture as Number Two is anything but irreplaceable. However I can understand the Watchmaker's feeling that it would be a suitable protest on a matter of principle. It would tell those that run the Village that they can be touched and are not as all-powerful as they believe. Sadly, the fact that Number Two is in on it is proof that they remain all-seeing and all-knowing.

Number Six tells Number Two of the assassination plan but Number Two says he doesn't believe him. Perhaps if Number Six could find out where and when it will happen as "the laugh would do me an awful lot of good." So Number Six heads to the shop that night with Number 50 and discovers a replica of the Great Seal of Office with explosives inside. Interestingly, we see Number Two's billed as 'Chief Administrator' on the seal, finally giving us some hint as to what his authority in the Village actually is. Although really, Chief Administrator is a pretty open ended job title!

Number Six goes to warn Number Two again but finds a different Number Two (André Van Gyseghem) who doesn't believe him either.  "Every interim Number Two who has served here whilst I've been on leave has been cautioned by you about some improbable conspiracy to murder him." We then see a video of Number Six warning different people, with Number Six's bits all taken from the one warning he gave before. Number Two sees no reason why anyone who fake the footage. "Tomorrow I hand over to my successor. I retire." "Perhaps they're trying to save a pension." Number Six adds, hitting the nail on the head.

The retiring Number Two
It's Appreciation Day. The loudspeaker announcer (Fenella Fielding) describes it's purpose as being to "Honour those who govern us!" This is mad. Utterly absurd. It's taking the piss actually. A day for the prisoners to honour their captors. It's a fantastic idea.

Chatting with Number 50 outside the cafe, Number Six says that the reason for the fake video was "to discredit me" because "I was the only one he might have believed."

The retiring Number Two is having doubts and has started to believe Number Six. Number Six goes to see him again and encouragingly tells Number Two that the assassination could be prevented. Number Two looks despondent and responds "You never understood us, Number Six - we never fail!" This seems a bold statement to make! A. B. and C., The General and Hammer Into Anvil all show Number Twos' plans failing and/or Number Six getting one over them.

Between scenes we have seen new blonde Number Two on the phone to 'Sir', positive that all is going to plan. He and the retiring Number Two appear on a balcony together for the handing-over ceremony. Number Six has told the retiring Number Two where the explosives are and as the Great Seal will feature in the ceremony, he is looking understandably glum.

Throughout the episode, blonde Number Two has never been quite sure whether or not he wants to keep his glasses on. He has had them with him all the time, whipping them on and off but whether he's short or long sighted is anyone's guess. Now we see that they contain a radio and he uses it to communicate with Number 100, just to make sure that everything is going to plan.

Number Six spots the Watchmaker in a tower and rushes over. Meanwhile the seal has been placed on the retiring Number Two, who is clearly absolutely bricking it. As he makes his departing speech, Number Six gets hold of the remote but when he leaves the tower is confronted by Number 100. They have a fight and Number Six tries to talk to blonde Number Two, who has just had the seal placed on his shoulders. He starts to rush through his speech, knowing that Number Six could and might blow him up any moment. Behind him the outgoing Number Two has been visibly sweating and still looks very worried, not daring to believe he may have escaped.

To quote Gene Hunt: As nervous as a very small nun in a penguin shooting contest.

The sexual tension here is immense.
Number Six runs there with the remote and whilst the new Number Two is shaking hands with various people, hands it to the retiring Number Two, telling him "It's your passport." There's a helicopter waiting. "They'll get me eventually." "Fly now, pay later." "They'll find me, wherever I go." "So long as it's not here." The new Number Two notices them and his face falls. The retiring Two goes to leave and the new Two takes a couple of steps towards him, but retiring Two's finger hovers over the remote and the new Two stops. A huge smile fills the retiring Two's face and he runs. The new Two goes to remove the Great Seal but Number Six steps in, grabs his hand and shakes it, saying how well the day went; "Better than planned." Finally, he adds "and now you can look forward to your own retirement and I'm sure they'll plan something equally suitable for you when the day comes." They look up and see the helicopter flying away. "Be seeing you...won't I?"

I love those final lines of Number Six's. He gleefully points out to the new Number Two that his own time will come and he will be treated just as badly as the man he plotted to have killed. The "...won't I?" at the end is also magnificent. Number Two has failed before he has even properly begun. Whilst "we never fail" wasn't quite true, they certainly don't accept failure. For me this episode implies that no Number Two ever gets to leave the Village in a good way. This one has made it to retirement but like any other he knows too much.  This harks back to a conversation in The Chimes of Big Ben. Number Six asks Number Two "Has it ever occurred to you that you're just as much a prisoner as I am?" "Of course," Two calmly replies. "I know too much. We're both lifers." It seems not all the Number Twos have accepted this.

My big issue with this episode is that I have a problem with Number Two's (or Sir's or whoever's) plan. I find it hard to justify Number Six's involvement in the plan. Why does Number Two bother making the effort to include Number Six? With the help of Number 100 , Number Two ensures that Number Six knows exactly what is going to happen on Appreciation Day. He knows where the bomb is and he knows about the remote. All Number Six has to do is find out where the Watchmaker is on the day and he is able to stop the plan. The only reason for Number Six's involvement is so that he warns Nesbitt's Number Two, who can then make the fake video to pass on to André Van Gyseghem's retiring Number Two. This ensures that when Number Six visits again to insist Number Two is going to be assassinated, Van Gyseghem's Number Two doesn't believe him. The one reason I can deduce for all this is if they had not involved Number Six, there was the chance of him discovering the plan himself and coming forward at an unpredictable time. Yet I feel I am stretching this. It is doubtful that Number Six would have found out about the plan. It was Number Two who sent the Watchmaker's daughter, Number 50, to see Number Six. Number 100's switching of the watches prompted Number Six's visit to the Watchmaker's, ensuring he saw the bomb remote. Number Two asked Number Six to find out exactly how they planned to kill him, meaning Six and Number 50 went to the Watchmaker's shop and found the replica of the Great Seal of Office.

Number Two's plan fails completely. The retiring Number Two begins to believe Number Six about the assassination and even if he hadn't, Number Six just about knows enough to be able to stop the bomb going off.

To turn to some more positive aspects... I very much enjoyed Mark Eden as Number 100 and would have liked the part to have been a bit bigger. There are a couple of scenes with Number Two's various assistants that probably could have been replaced with Number 100. Also, his pink jacket is awesome.

I tend to overlook the technical aspects of the series most of the time, being far too busy looking at the plot. I was impressed with the lighting in Number Two's office. The screens are filled with what look like close ups of lava lamps, so when Number Six visits he is either in a green or purple light and I think it looks great.

We have had a couple of excellent episodes and Number Six hasn't tried to escape in either of them! After A. B. and C., The General and Hammer Into Anvil this marks the fourth episode in which Number Six can be said to have gained a "little victory" against a Number Two. There are only six episodes of Number Six left. My memory of the whole series was quite hazy before this re-watch, more hazy than I thought actually. I know one of the upcoming episodes has a Western setting but apart from that, I remember very little from now on. It's exciting.

Be seeing you.

Thursday 7 May 2015

The Prisoner - Hammer Into Anvil

Episode 10: Hammer Into Anvil

First ITV broadcast: Friday 1st December 1967, 7.30pm [ATV Midlands/Grampian]
Estimated first run ratings: 9.1 million
First CBS broadcast: Saturday 31st August 1968, 7.30pm

This episode is a rare example of Number Six getting one over Number Two and the Village. I have written before about 'little victories', little acts of defiance that help keep Number Six sane, but this one seems like quite a big victory.

Number Two (Patrick Cargill) quotes Goethe to Number Six, translated as "You must be Anvil or Hammer." "And you see me as the anvil?" Number Six asks. "Precisely. I am going to hammer you." replies Number Two. As Number Six leaves, Number Two shouts after him "I'll break you, Number Six!" This is quite interesting as up until now several Number Two's have been quite clear about not wanting to 'break' Number Six. Leo McKern's Number Two in The Chimes of Big Ben says "I don't want a man of fragments!" and Mary Morris's Number Two in 'Dance of the Dead' interrupts an attempt to break Number Six, insisting she wants him intact. However, Anton Rodgers' Number Two in 'The Schizoid Man' says of Number Six "Once he begins to doubt his own identity, he'll crack." Apart from the events of 'The Schizoid Man' though, most Number Two's want a mentally sound Number Six who can coherently spill out all his secrets.This episode's Number Two makes it clear that he wants to smash Number Six and get his information any way possible. But it will be Number Two who ends up the wreck of a man.

Number Six's actions in this episode are arguably triggered by seeing Number 73 (Hilary Dwyer) throw herself out of the hospital window. It's just one thing too far for Number Six. We see him going about his way hereafter, doing some rather odd things. For Number Two, who is as usual watching Number Six's every move, these actions are downright suspicious. In the village shop, Number Six asks for the Tally Ho and a copy of Bizet's L'Arlésienne. He then asks for all the copies. Number Six listens to the opening few seconds of all six before returning them to the counter. He leaves his Tally Ho behind with the word 'security' circled on the front page. After Number Six leaves, the shopkeeper (Victor Woolf) immediately calls Number Two and reports what happened.

There are numerous other things. Number Six writes a message containing code words on a piece of paper and Number Two sends Number 14 (Basil Hoskins) to get the imprint on the notepaper underneath. Upon seeing the message, Number Two comments "Number Six - a plant." Number Six takes an envelope to the stone boat. Number Two finds only blank pieces of paper inside and demands they be analysed. The results come back negative; they are just blank pieces of paper. Number Two is livid and turns on the lab assistant (Michael Segal) "Perhaps you're in with him." Number Two becomes jumpy and even more suspicious. Number Six puts an ad in the paper then rings the hospital, asking to speak to Psychiatric. "What's the verdict on our friend?" "Friend? Friend? Who is this?" asks the doctor, Number 249, (Norman Scace). "Your report on Number Two, Doctor?" "Number Two? What are you talking about? Who is this speaking?" "I understand. You'd rather not talk on the telephone. Probably very wise. Never mind. I'll be seeing you later on, hmm?" Later Number Two confronts Number 249 with a recording of  the conversation, who can't explain it. Number Two insists there must have been a reason for Number Six to ring. A band plays on the village green and Number Six speaks to the band master (Victor Maddern). Later Number Two interrogates the man, who says Number Six requested a tune. "What else?" demands Number Two "What else did he say?" The poor conductor cannot add anything. "Number Six just asked you to play a tune... and then walked away?" Number Two says, as if this is the most ludicrous thing he has ever heard. "You're lying, aren't you? There's something going on!"

Number Six's retrieved note imprint
These events take place over several days and Number Two's paranoia continues to mount as he gets increasingly frustrated, unable to discover any reasonable (to him) explanation for Number Six's actions. Number Six puts something in the post and then a message is read out, presumably over the Village's radio: "To Number Six from Number 113. Warmest greetings on your birthday. May the sun shine on you today and everyday." Number Two storms into the Control Room "What is going on here?" and everyone stops and stares at him. The supervisor (Peter Swanwick) bares the brunt of Number Two's anger as he shouts that it isn't Number Six's birthday and Number 113 died last month. "I'll break this conspiracy!" cries Number Two as he leaves.

Number Six's ad appears in the paper "There is more harm in the Village than is dreamt of."  Number Six turns up at Number Two's house, saying he rang him. When Number Two denies it, Number Six says "Someone in the Village is impersonating you." Number Six buys a cookoo clock from the shop. "He seemed to be searching for a specific box" the shopkeeper tells Number Two. Number Six puts the clock outside Number Two's house. Number Two watches from the Control Room and cries "It must be a bomb!" but when the clock is taken apart there is nothing inside. Meanwhile, Number Six uses the box the clock came in to trap a pigeon, attaches a piece of paper to its leg and lets it go. Number Two has the pigeon brought down (No idea how. They shoot at it but when we see the pigeon later it is very much alive.) and the numbers on the paper deciphered. They read "Vital message tomorrow, 6am, by visual signal." So next morning all eyes are on Number Six who goes to the beach and uses a mirror reflecting the sun to send out a Morse code message. The area is scanned but there are no ships, aircraft or submarines. "He must be signalling to someone!" says Number Two. The message is decoded "Patter cake, patter cake, baker's man, bake me a cake as fast you can."
Number Two watches Number Six plant the 'bomb'.
Now if you haven't figured it out, Number Six has spent the entire episode messing with Number Two. Considering how little we know about Number Six, there is the chance he could have been signalling to someone. But really, we know Number Six is not a plant and we haven't seen him in contact with anyone. He's done little things in the past to annoy Number Two, to defy the Village and show that he refuses to obey their rules, but never before has he gone so out of his way like this. It's impossible to know just how much of these things were planned, and how many were spur of the moment ideas. Number Six's actions early on, like speaking to the bandmaster, could well have been a sudden idea but the later ones, like the Morse code on the beach, clearly included some planning.

Whilst I admire all of the things Number Six does to deceive Number Two this episode, sending codes to no one and placing fake messages are rather basic espionage tricks I feel. It is Number Six's final deception that I think is the most inspired. Up until this point Number 14's part in this episode has felt rather unnecessary. He is just another of Number Two's goons. He takes the note imprint from Number Six's house and goes with Number Two to retrieve the envelope from the stone boat. At one point he offers to kill Number Six, but Number Two says "Our masters would know something", believing Six is working for them. Number 14 later challenges Number Six to a fight, an element of the episode that feels utterly pointless really. They knock each other around on trampolines for a bit, a sport last seen in 'The Schizoid Man', but end it before anything significant happens as two other people appear for their turn. I suppose it might have been an attempt to increase Number 14's role in the episode and the tension between he and Number Six. But to me this tension doesn't seem necessary for what Number Six does later. It just feels like the writer has attempted to shoe in a fight sequence for this week.

Number Six's final action occurs afters he spots Number 14 outside the cafe. Number Six goes over and speaks to him in a conspiratorial tone, about how he slept and about going to the beach. Number 14 is dumbfounded. The waiter sees this and later Number Two confronts Number 14 "You're working with Number Six! I thought you were the one man I could trust!" "But you can! I'm loyal!" Number Two slaps him and screams "Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!" Number 14 leaves and Number Two goes after him, angrily shouting "You've lost, you and you're friends! I'll break the lot of you!" He spots the butler (Angelo Muscat). "You too! You're in this plot, aren't you?" I find Number Six's actions so inspired because it produces this reaction. Unlike the phone call where the doctor can be heard denying any knowledge of the caller, Number Two cannot hear the conversation with Number 14. Number Six chooses someone incredibly close to Number Two and having built up Number Two's paranoia sufficiently, needs no specific response or action from Number 14; their witnessed conversation will be enough.

The waiter watches as Number Six goes over to Number 14.
Number Two is not happy.
Angry at having lost his boss, Number 14 goes round to Number Six's to pick a fight with him. It ends rather dramatically and rather brilliantly with Number 14 going through the front window. I enjoyed the fight but as with the earlier one on the trampolines, it felt unnecessary.

Number Six goes to see Number Two. "I've come to keep you company." The butler has packed his suitcase and left. "It's odd. All this power at your disposal and yet you're alone. You do feel alone, don't you?" Number Six's tone here is part patronising and part authoritarian, reminding me a little of last week. He is in control and Number Two sits there, a husk of the man he was. "Where's the strong man? The Hammer?" Number Six taunts him. "You have to be Hammer or Anvil, remember?" The Anvil sits there, weak. "You destroyed yourself. Character flaw. You were afraid of your masters."

A broken man.
The scene is played magnificently by Patrick Cargill as Number Two begs Number Six not to report him. "You are going to report yourself" Number Six tells him, leaving Number Two to turn himself in to his masters.

Watching Number Two crumble this week was magnificent. Although the Number Twos constantly change and sometimes this is due to their failures with Number Six, never before has Number Six set out to get rid of a Number Two. Ending it all by convincing Number Two that it was all his own fault is an extra stroke of brilliance.

We also get a small amount of information about the 'masters', although we have had odd bits earlier in the series. In 'Arrival' Number Six asks "Who is Number One?" and Number Two answers "As far as you are concerned, I am in charge" but we have come to see that this is not entirely true. There are people over Number Two. At the end of the episode as he goes to leave, Cobb tells Number Two "Musn't keep my new masters waiting." I discussed this line in detail in the 'Arrival' article. What I do think we can draw from that line is that the Village does have 'masters'. The next insight we get is in 'A. B. and C.' when a nervous Number Two speaks to a 'Sir' on the phone, as does 'Hammer Into Anvil''s Number Two at one point. In 'The Schizoid Man' Number Two tells Number Six (who is pretending to be Number 12) "You're to return immediately to report your failure." Number Six goes off in the helicopter and is of course brought back, having been found out. But where was he supposed to return to to report? More importantly, report to who? Number Six says the plan (see 'The Schizoid Man') was Number Two's, who replies "You know it wasn't." Number Six  says "Well you certainly didn't resist" to which Number Two answers "Bearing in mind its origin, no I didn't." All this alludes to some higher power and reinforces the idea that Number Two is not the sole person in charge of the Village. He's a middle manager, with guardians working under him. Whilst many Number Twos are confident and authoritarian, in 'A. B. and C.' and 'Hammer Into Anvil' the respective Number Twos are both depicted as nervous men, who seem to carry out their actions due to fear alone. Both these Number Twos leave or are implied to leave immediately at the end of the episode. Their fear was their downfall, as it caused them to behave irrationally. As Number Six says, "You destroyed yourself. Character flaw. You were afraid of your masters." An intriguing question is: why are they afraid of their masters? We don't know what happens to a former Number Two when they have to leave the Village.

Be seeing you.

Thursday 23 April 2015

The Prisoner - Checkmate

Episode 9: Checkmate

First ITV broadcast: Friday 24th November 1967, 7.30pm [ATV Midlands/Granada]
Estimated first run ratings: 9.1 million
First CBS broadcast: Saturday 17th August 1968, 7.30pm

The episode begins with an aggressive roar from Rover as it rolls through the Village. Everyone stops completely still, apart from one man (George Coulouris). Number Six notices this man and follows him. The man is known as 'the Champion' and is playing a game of chess with people as the pieces. Number Six joins in, playing a pawn. At one point, the white queen's rook (Ronald Radd) moves without orders. This is seen as catastrophic. "Not allowed. Cult of the individual" we are told. The rook is taken to hospital.

The next day Number Two (Peter Wyngarde) takes Number Six to see Rook in hospital. Rook is undergoing a "rehabilitation". Number Two says the technique is "based on Pavlov". If you aren't familiar with Pavlov, he rang a bell before he fed his dog. Eventually the dog began to associate the sound of the bell with food and would salivate at the sound of the bell, regardless of whether the dog had seen any food. Rook has been dehydrated and awakes in a room with water containers of different colours. Three are empty and one, the blue one, gives him a shock but when told to go back to it he, cautiously, does. This time it gives him water.

Number Two and the head psychiatrist (Patricia Jessel) observe Rook.
Upon his release from hospital, Number Six makes contact with Rook and pretending to be a guardian, gets information from Rook about who he is and why he was brought to the Village. Number Six reveals that he is really a prisoner and tells Rook that he has found a way to tell the difference between the prisoners and the guardians. This has been an ongoing problem for Number Six as he can never know who to trust. He has discovered that if he acts authoritatively, the prisoners will assume him to be a guardian and obey him. However the guardians are more likely to defy him. Number Six asks to speak to a man doing some gardening and the man tells him he'll have to wait. Guardian. Number Six starts to get people together ready for an escape.

Meanwhile, Number Six met Number Eight (Rosalie Crutchley) (I think we're onto our third or fourth Number Eight in the series) whilst in the chess game. She was playing the queen. She is hypnotised to believe she and Number Six are in love. She gets given a locket to wear that sends back her pulse rate and therefore Number Two and the doctors know when she is near Number Six. Arguably, they could just track him through the cameras in the Village, but he has been shown to be getting good at finding blind spots.

Number Eight comes to Number Six's house one evening and makes him a hot chocolate. She's told him how she feels and he keeps asking who put her up to it. She is desperate for his attention and his approval. "May I see you again?" she asks. "Yes, I'm here all the time" he replies. I rather like that gag. It doesn't feel shoehorned in and nine weeks into the show it's a joke the viewers can get now.

"If only you'd care a little, I'd be happy."
The next day Number Six denies that he loves Number Eight and she inadvertently reveals what has happened when she says "if not then why did you give me this locket". Number Six looks at it and finds the electronics inside. He takes it to Rook, who is building a radio and says he can use the parts. When it's finished, Number Six sends out a Mayday call and manages to get in touch with a nearby ship. He says they are a plane going down. Rook goes out to sea in a dingy with the radio to try and draw the ship in with a distress signal.

Number Six goes with a group of prisoners to tie up Number Two, whose console is picking up the distress signal. It suddenly stops and Number Six runs down to the beach to find the dingy on shore with no sign of Rook. Number Six gets in the dingy and heads out himself, eventually getting picked up by a boat. But upon getting inside he sees Number Two on a television screen. The boat is the Village's. Then Rook appears. He turned Number Six's own logic on himself, believing the authoritative Six was a guardian; "You deliberately tried to trap me!". Rook thought his loyalty was being tested so turned Number Six in to Number Two.

Number Six fights with the small crew of the boat but Rover appears and pushes the boat back towards the shore.

The episode itself is supposed to be a game of chess but I don't really have anything to say on that. I find it a slightly stretched metaphor. However, something that interested me and I quite like is that Number Six comes undone through his own theory. Throughout the series he has been depicted as confident and self-assured. He has done most things alone but when planning escapes and other things, he does look in control and feels he knows what he is doing. This may not have been the case, but he has certainly acted that way. He is not a meek subordinate. So really, it makes perfect sense that Rook should believe Number Six to be a guardian. He has never acted like the other prisoners. During their escape preparations, Number Six is in charge. He oversees things and when the time comes, passes the coded message round to everyone to let them know they are ready. "You only have yourself to blame." Number Two tells Number Six. "I gather you avoided selecting guardians by detecting their subconscious arrogance. There was one thing you overlooked." "What was that?" "Rook applied to you your own tests. When you took command of this little venture, your air of authority convinced him you were one of us." Number Six himself is evidence that his own theory cannot be one hundred per cent accurate. The line between guardians and prisoners remains blurred.

My final say is that I really enjoyed Peter Wyngarde as Number Two and would have liked to see him feature more heavily in the episode. I would certainly have preferred to see more face-to-face scenes with Number Two and Number Six. I don't think I have ever seen Wyngarde in anything before. Interestingly, according to an interview with Wyndarde, McGoohan personally asked him to be in the series. His karate chop was an addition to the script, with Wyndarde practicing every morning.

Next week, Number Six can't even be bothered to try and escape. Pfft.

Be seeing you.

Friday 3 April 2015

The Prisoner - Dance of the Dead

Episode 8: Dance of the Dead

First ITV broadcast: Friday 17th November 1967, 7.30pm [ATV Midlands/Grampian]
Estimated first run ratings: 9.1 million
First CBS broadcast: Saturday 27th July 1968, 7.30pm

For the first time, Number Two speaking in the title sequence is a woman. We have had a couple of female Number Two's so far. In 'Free For All' it is revealed that Number Six's maid, Number 58, is the new Number Two and in the previous episode, 'Many Happy Returns', Mrs Butterworth is revealed to be Number Two. Interestingly, both characters appear earlier in each respective episode and both under different names, only being unveiled as Number Two at the end of the episodes. 'Dance of the Dead' is the first time we get a female Number Two for the entire episode. Unlike the previous female Number Twos, who both wore skirts and dresses, this Number Two (Mary Morris) is stereotypically masculine, sporting trousers and a jumper, as well as the striped scarf favoured by several previous Number Twos.

The episode starts with an attempt to 'break' Number Six, which Number Two interrupts and spouts off the familiar dialogue about wanting Six together. We have heard variations on this several times in the series. Leo McKern's Number Two in 'The Chimes of Big Ben' says "I don't want a man of fragments!" It seems unnecessary to repeat this idea so many times and simply wastes time in an episode. However, I am willing to excuse 'Dance of the Dead' because that old point of episode order pops up again...

On number occasions this episode tells us that Number Six has not been in the Village very long. Early on he says "I'm new here." When he meets his friend Roland Walter Dutton (Alan White), Dutton says he has been in the Village a couple of months and Number Six says he got there "Quite recently", which implies to me that he has been there only a matter of weeks. During the trial Number Two says of Number Six "He is new and guilty of folly."  In 'The Chimes of Big Ben' the Colonel says Number Six has been gone for months, so how can it be only a few weeks here? The episode order is really bodged up. As if The Prisoner wasn't confusing enough to watch, they throw curve balls like this in.

The plot of this episode is based around Number Six's discovery of a body washed up on the beach. He finds a wallet and a small radio on the man so decides to insert his photo and a note into the wallet, seal it in a plastic bag, then send it with the man back out to sea, kept afloat by a stolen life ring.
Lesson 1 in reusing a dead body.
At one point listening to the radio, it sounds like Number Six has picked something up but when Number Two spots it, they can only pick up the local Village radio. Nonetheless, she confiscates it.

Number Six meets Dutton, who we can guess is an old friend or colleague. Dutton has been getting tortured in the hospital and claims he has told them all he knows but they don't believe him. They have released him for a bit to think things over. Dutton is sure they are going to break him, saying "Soon Roland Walter Dutton will cease to exist."

There is a carnival, including a party at Town Hall. Earlier in the episode this is announced as "There will be music, dancing, happiness - all at the carnival. By order." Saying that "There will be [...] happiness" seems very odd and makes one think of forced smiles; the smile is there but the eyes show the terror that created it.The last two words emphasise the idea of an imposed joy that I have written about before.

Number Two finds Number Six on the beach early in the evening and I must draw attention to some stunning shots. I have nothing more to say about them other than I think they are absolutely beautiful.

The party is fancy dress and costumes were sent out earlier. Number Six's is his own tuxedo, as seen in 'A. B. and C.' He stands out considerably amongst the colourful costumes of the others and asks Number Two "Why haven't I a costume?" She replies "Perhaps because you don't exist", reminding us of Dutton's prediction that he will soon cease to exist.

Number Six sneaks off, stealing a doctor's white coat and a woman, also in a white coat, hands him a piece of paper. It's a "termination order" and is needed for Number Two urgently. Number Six opens it up and finds Dutton's name on it. Entering a room he finds green cabinets and proceeds to open the drawers to each. We are not shown what is in them but later find out that it is a morgue. Number Two appears with a black cat. Number Six had taken in the cat but Number Two reveals that the cat is hers. Number Two reveals that they will amend the man that Number Six sent out to sea. "So to the outside world-" "Which you only dream about." "I'll be dead." "A small confirmation of a known fact." Number Two is really messing with Number Six's head here. The outside world no longer exists and he is dead. There may as well no longer be any outside world because he is never going to see it again. His life in the outside world is over because he can never reach it again. His life in the outside world now only exists in his dreams.

They head back to the party/cabaret evening. The music, dancing and happiness have stopped. There is silence. Number Six is to be put on trial for possession of the radio. Number Six has had an Observer watching him during this episode, Number 240 (Norma West). Observers were mentioned in 'Arrival' but haven't really been touched on since. Number 240 is to be prosecuting and Number Two, dressed as Peter Pan, is the defence. Three judges have been appointed. They are not named but are dressed as Elizabeth I, Horatio Nelson and a Roman emperor, who I think is supposed to be Julius Caesar. I have to admit I am basing this solely on him being dressed similarly to Kenneth Williams in Carry On Cleo (1964).

The History book judges.

Kenneth Williams can't believe someone stole his outfit

It's a kangaroo court. They claim Number Six has broken the rules and when he asks "Has anyone ever seen these rules?" he is ignored. Number Six wants a character witness and asks for Dutton. Number Two fetches him and we see he is dressed as a jester. He is the saddest, most miserable looking jester I have ever seen. Number Two sits him down and lifts his chin. The man looks broken. He says nothing. Roland Water Dutton no longer exists.

Unsurprisingly, the judges find Number Six guilty. Caesar reaches for a black cap. "The sentence is death. We sentence in the name of the people, the people carry it out in the name of justice." Number Six gets a few seconds grace to walk through the crowd, then he runs as they run after him. They seem mad and animal-like. Number Six finds a trapdoor in the morgue, runs down, then back up some stairs. He enters a room that was locked before and finds a machine typing away. It is either sending or receiving some sort of information. Number Six wrecks it and the typing stops. He turns and sees the people through a window.

"It's a mirror" Number Two tells him. "Why are they trying to kill me?" "They don't know you're already dead. Locked up in the long box in that little room." Number Six tells her "You'll never win" and she replies "Then how very uncomfortable for you, old chap." Number Two laughs manically as the machine starts typing again.

This episode feels like a filler episode. Not a lot happens to move the plot of the whole series along. It is just another way for a Number Two to show Number Six how much control they have over the Village. The inhabitants are controlled to the extent that when ordered, they will attempt to kill a man because he possessed a radio. That is certainly a little scary. But we have seen this sort of thing before by now and as with the 'breaking him' scene, I feel we have seen enough by now. This episode should definitely have been a lot earlier.

We pick up some more Village Info. Number Six says to his new maid "The maids come and they go" and shortly afterwards says "I'm new here", which seems contradictory at first. How can he know that the maids don't stay very long if he hasn't been there long? But perhaps they really are changing very rapidly, only staying a week at a time say.

There's a force-field around Town Hall at one point that stops Number Six getting in. A passing man tells Number Six "It's fussy about who it lets in." Even for The Prisoner, the idea that the building is sentient seems a bit too far-fetched. Instead, we can surmise that it is being watched from a control room and a force-field can be turned on or off. The idea of a force-field is interesting though and I would be curious as to the extent it can be implemented in the Village. Why don't they simply place a force-field around the whole Village, including the sea? This would have stopped any attempts to escape out to sea and reduce the need for Rover. But perhaps the force-field capabilities are limited and can only be applied to buildings.

Whilst dancing at the party with Number Six, Number 240 says "This place has been going for a long time" but when Six attempts to question her "Since the war? Before the war? Which war?" she only replies "A long time." This tells us, er, precisely nothing. The Village has been there for a long time. How long is a long time?  Three years? Five years? 10 years? 50 years? I have no idea. Make your own minds up how long a long time is. The Village must keep some mysteries.

Be seeing you.