The Gallery

This page is devoted to your theories and commentary regarding the Prisoner! Please click here to submit a message for later inclusion to this site.
1996 Reed, Kent, and Kirby Meyer. Last Modified: 2 November 2021.
First of all I would like to say that I agree (basically) with your views on the correct viewing order of the episodes. However, I am of the VERY STRONG opinion that not all of the episodes should be included for viewing at all! For instance, ``Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling'' was such a crappy excuse for an episode. Let's face it, Patrick McGoohan's interest in the series at that point was waining, and he was more interested in doing ``Ice Station Zebra.'' So the producers had to write around his absence. I say GET RID OF IT! (Shocking to hear that from the no. 1 Prisoner fan of all time, isn't it?) Another example of ``filler'' episodes would be ``It's Your Funeral'' and, possibly, ``The Schizoid Man.'' I am just not comfortable with what the writers did with these episodes (The rover incident in ``Schizoid Man'' really infuriated me to no end! It just didn't jive no matter how you try to explain it away.) Here is my idea of the best program (not necessarily in order): 1. ARRIVAL 2. CHIMES OF BIG BEN 3. A, B, & C 4. FREE FOR ALL 5. MANY HAPPY RETURNS 6. DANCE OF THE DEAD 7. CHECKMATE (questionable) 8. LIVING IN HARMONY 9. CHANGE OF MIND 10. HAMMER INTO ANVIL 11. THE GIRL WHO WAS DEATH 12. ONCE UPON A TIME 13. FALLOUT J. W. Moulder Response from Kirby : Yes, certain episodes don't need to be viewed in order to get a full understanding of the series. One could argue that ``all you need to watch are the McGoohan Seven.'' For us, many of the non-essential ``ten'' do have elements of ``The Prisoner'' in them. The four episodes which we'd say, don't have anything in them, and can be totally disregarded, would be: ``The General,'' ``Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling,'' ``It's Your Funeral,'' and ``The Girl Who Was Death.'' These particular episodes don't have enough of a focus on Number Six's struggle to cope in the Village, which is the general theme of the series. All seventeen episodes should be watched, but if one wanted to narrow it down due to time constraints, these four, in our opinion, should be eliminated. A matter of interest -- who do you think the best number 2 was? And, where do you think the Village was? K.A. Bray Response from Reed : I don't want to sound like I'm ``jumping on the bandwagon,'' but I think that without question Leo McKern portrayed the best No.2. His acting in ``Once Upon a Time'' has no equal and he was also quite good in ``Chimes of Big Ben'' as well as his role in ``Fall Out.'' Aside from McKern, my favorite No.2 performances in the series have to be Kenneth Griffith in ``The Girl who was Death'' and as the President (similar role to No.2) in ``Fall Out,'' Mary Morris in ``Dance of the Dead,'' and the guy who did both ``The General'' and ``A, B, and C.'' Honorable mentions go to the guys who did ``Arrival'' and ``The Schizoid Man.'' The second question is more difficult to answer, and in a sense I think should have no answer. It is clear, throughout the series, that the Village is meant to represent the whole world, or, to be more specific, what the whole world might be turning into. PMcG tries very hard to emphasize the fact that the Village can be anywhere (and, simultaneously, is everywhere), e.g., the Village is a hodgepodge of architectural styles and hardly anyone refers to specific place names outside of the Village. (About the only geographically limiting aspects of the Village are that everyone speaks English there and the forecast is always for light, intermittent showers!) Further evidence of attempts to make the Village ubiquitous is that the script editors didn't seem to try very hard to reconcile the discrepancy between the location hinted at in ``Chimes of Big Ben'' and the hints given in ``Many Happy Returns.'' If we go strictly by COBB, the Village lies in the time zone one hour east of Greenwich, yet if we go by MHR, the Village lies somewhere in the Atlantic to the southwest of England, which is obviously west of England's time zone (or at least the same time zone as England). Additionally, if we look at ``Fall Out,'' the Village probably lies somewhere on Britain since the truck suddenly ends up on a highway outside of London and we never see a ferry scene (and this was long before the Chunnel was built, too)! If I had to pick one particular place to put the Village, I'd say it's somewhere on the southwest coast of Britain (i.e., a semi-mountainous coastal area in Cornwall) to account for the language/weather, MHR ``boat journey'' (hey, he could've overestimated the wind speed!), and ``Fall Out,'' and give up on trying to account for the evidence in COBB. I consider it very possible that No. 6 was in fact in control of the village throughout the entire series. Look at the evidence. They do not wish to damage him. He fits the warden profile. On the map of the village only he has a private residence. The village wants him to work for them in ``Fall Out'' and ``Life in Harmony'' when it was obvious that he would refuse. The most I will give No. 6 is that maybe he was a warden that was programed to think he was a prisoner. No. 1 is No. 6. Rylan Bachman Response from Kirby : We believe that the Village existed only for McGoohan. . . . The others couldn't ``survive'' because it wasn't their Village. (The ``cabbages'' were probably introduced into the story because they would make No.6 discover his own self.) In lieu of this, he is special to the Village, so they don't damage him . . . they want him to ``give in'' like peer pressure in our society (which is the function of the ``Village'' for No.6). No.1 is No.6 because, ironically, the opposite occurred -- people gave in to him. This irony manifested itself in the identity of No.1. When I was younger I always thought The Village was a social experiment in human behaviour conducted by aliens i.e., Rovers, to see how we can be manipulated into comformity as a prelude to possible invasion. My theory on why he resigned? Of course it's a continuation of Danger Man in a way. He resigned from acting in Danger Man before the contract ran out (so I'm led to believe) as he became bored with the series. So as a kind of joke the Question in ``The Prisoner'' should be: ``Why did you resign from acting as Danger Man?'' The answer of course is that he was just plain bored! Carmel Response from Kirby : The first idea stated is very good . . . ``Very good, indeed.'' We wouldn't go so far as to say the Village is run by ``Rovers,'' but a theory which we have comes close to this! Let's say that the Village is run by orderlies, which may control the prisoner through a ``medium'' . . . that medium is Rover. So, in ``Free for All,'' Rover may be conditioning those prisoners at that moment. (Kind of strange that No.6 simply opens a door, and BOOM! There they are!) There is more than one Village. There is more than enough information to convince me beyond any reasonable doubt that there are multiple villages, all appearing the same to anyone, prisoner or warder, on the inside. Number 6 is moved around from one to another during enforced periods of unconsciousness. The village of ``The Chimes of Big Ben'' is in one location (the so-called ``lost episode'' version shows 6 taking a star sight which nails it down very strongly.) The village of ``Many Happy Returns'' is off the coast of the Iberian peninsula and the village of ``Fall Out'' is on England's sceptred Isle. W.C. Francis Response from Kent : If the Village is to be regarded as a "prison for oneself," then it should only seem fair to assume there is only one true Village, because multiple Villages controlling just one Prisoner doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The various episodes where No.6 tries pinpointing the location of the Village only tell us that it's impossible to determine where the actual location is. It could be anywhere! Saying that Villages exist in different geographical locations is only an attempt to rationalize something that can't be rationally answered -- namely, does the Village even physically exist?? My impression on the symbolism in the series is that the Village is a block to the transcendent freedom of the spirit or soul; hence, the closing shot in each episode of No. 6's face ascending up from the village and being barred from further upward progress (to Heaven?!). Thus, I think the Village is a purgatory, depending on how one looks at it; and freedom could either mean ascent to the world above or below depending on what a prisoner would do with his freedom. I agree that the urge to be top dog or to dominate society politically is an inferior one, on both ``sides'' of the Iron Curtain, that must be resisted, and that freedom to ascend to a higher level of spiritual being is in no way synonymous with the inherent inferior wish to dominate the Earthly world in a Napoleonic fashion. The frequent depiction of No. 2 as Napoleonic, most evidently in ``Do not Forsake...'' and ``The Girl Who Was Death'' suggests No. 2 is an inferior projection of the universal human urge, and which No. 6 is valiantly resisting though not with complete success, to rule the world, or the Village, or the Western town in ``Living in Harmony''. I'm also slightly modifying my view on the symbolism of Rover; it can either represent the Earth and its hold on the human spirit, pulling it back each time it tries to escape; or it can represent that part of the human psyche that is problematically bound with the Earth and the associated desires to conform to a group, or to dominate a group, or to dominate the world itself. This way, the watery origin of Rover signifies that watery place of origin of life on planet Earth, and the roar of Rover denotes the wildness of the id when bound to Earth by such regressive desires as the wish to conform or dominate, or to take risks for sheer thrill or to test one's fortune with ``lady luck'', or to ``make it'' with any woman, or the whole mother Earth itself. The id must be broken free of the bond of its worldly or Earthly fixations for the whole human spirit to be truly free. The rocket motif would seem to fit with this mode of interpretation. K. McCorry Response from Kirby : We tend to broaden the symbolism in “the Prisoner” as far as it can go. In other words, we simply treat ``The Prisoner'' as a struggle against conformity, which is, in our books, ``good versus evil''. Of course, the theory of Rover ties-in with the symbolism of the series, so the theory of Rover can also be broadened if need be. We don't believe that Patrick McGoohan wanted a religious focus in ``the Prisoner''; however, we do feel that its universal messages can be viewed differently, depending on the religion of the viewer. Is it not possible that there simply is no No. 1? When the prisoner meets No. 2, he automatically assumes that there is a superior No. 1. This sounds to me like conforming. Why must there be a No. 1? Maybe the man in charge is really No. 248 or maybe he has no number at all. During my initial viewing of the series I was sure that No. 1 would turn out to be the Butler. I don't believe there is or ever was a real No. 1. It was a mistake on the part of No. 6, his belief that there must be a No. 1 shows that he is not the individual that he thinks he is. Why would No. 6 refuse to use his real name if he does not wish to be identified as a number? D.M. Reid Response from Kirby : Because the public was itching for a No. 1. Since PMcG was forced to answer their pleas, he made No. 1 exactly what the public didn't want, a manifest of their idolization for him! So, don't down McGoohan for having a No.1 . . . he had the guts to reject what the public wanted, another ``Goldfinger''. Regarding the penny farthing, a friend of mine suggested that it was a symbol of the Village's isolation from the Real World. The Village is the little wheel, the Real World the big. But they're not really that different from one another, are they? At the least, it's a pleasing observation, wouldn't you say? (theory by Nigel Whitton; credit where due, etc.) W. Hiorns Response from Kirby : Yes, at least, this is the `old' theory of the bicycle, for the ending credits of the ``Alternate Chimes of Big Ben'' . Apparently, either this symbolic message was too complex, or too vague, because these ending credits were never used again. I do not see Fall Out as either a response to the critics, nor a major changing of direction. Rather, it was a reasonable conclusion to what the series had been building to ever since the beginning. At some points you seem to be saying that the whole message is that people just need to think for themselves more. The statement "Don't listen to what I tell you, do what you think is right" borders on contradiction. We see the same syndrome in Monty Python's Life of Brian, where Brian keeps trying to tell his followers to think for themselves rather than trying to follow him. What neither Brian nor the writers seemed to notice is that the crowds were in fact doing exactly what they wanted to do, and were also in fact ignoring what Brian was telling them, just as he said he wanted. In this light, one wonders what the problem was. My view of the literal meaning of Fall Out is that the Village was employing a more sophisticated version of the ploy they tried in Free For All, i.e. enslaving Number 6 through giving him a nominal (but meaningless) position of authority. Get Number 6 involved with the Village and its way of doing things, under the guise of letting him think that he was pulling strings, when in fact they were pulling his. It was believed that after the ordeal of Degree Absolute that Number 6 would be more susceptible to these tactics than he was during the election. The person Number 6 saw in the tower was not the real Number 1 (assuming there is a real one), but merely another Curtis-style clone who was on the scene to disorient Number 6. (Number 6 and Number 1 are not LITERALLY the same person; we saw two separate people in the room, not one). The Village really was in Southeastern England, though I believe that there are two or more Villages in the world, all identical to each other. This would be necessary in order to separate people who would otherwise work together, when you don't want to permanently harm either one. For example, after the little misunderstanding in ``Checkmate'', Number 6 and Number 58 (the Rook) would have known that they could trust each other in future escape attempts, but they never got the chance, since we never saw the Rook again. Most likely, he was merely moved to one of the other Villages to keep him and Number 6 apart. The same goes for #50 (Monique, the watchmaker's daughter), another trustworthy confidant who just disappeared. Allegorically, there is no problem with multiple physical Villages, since allegorically, the Village is inside Number 6, with himself (in his guise as Number 1) as his chief oppressor. He takes the Village with him wherever he goes, even into the outside world, as we see at the end of Fall Out (i.e. the Village automatic door on his London flat, and the fact that he is still referred to as "Prisoner" at the end). As for the automatic door, this is a good example of the two levels of meaning. Literally, the reason the door opened that way is because Village personnel had been making modifications to his flat, and used equipment that they had on hand. Allegorically, it tells us that for Number 6 the outside world is still the Village. While I say that Number 6 and Number 1 are not literally the same, I am well aware that allegorically they are. That's the whole point of the show. That's what distinguishes The Prisoner from your average run-of-the-mill anti-utopian the-baddies-are- out- to-get-us show. The concept that the ultimate enemies can be inside ones head rather than outside. Take ``The Schizoid Man'' (which I consider to be the quintessential Prisoner episode). Number 6 does have external enemies in that episode, but what makes it special is that his own mind, body, reactions, and even taste have been co-opted into fighting against him. Just as it is vital to the show's concept that Number 6 and Number 1 are the same, I also consider it vital that Britain and/or NATO be the ones that run the Village. The show's "enemy within" concept demands that Number 6 be a victim of his own people, not a group of outsiders like the Soviets, or even worse, aliens, as some have suggested. As for the idea that the West runs the Village, this makes sense on both an allegorical and a literal level. Allegorically for the reason I just cited. Literally, because we see Number 6 drive out of the Village and be in Southern England minutes later. There are several other clues. In ``A. B. and C.'', Colin Gordon says that he thinks that Number 6 was selling out and wants to see what would have happened "if we had not got to him first." This seems very plain. In ``Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling'', Number 2 asks "If I had told you 10 years ago that WE could have flown a rocket round the moon would you have believed me?" (Admittedly this is less clear than the Colin Gordon example, since we don't have a precise date for the series). I don't believe that Dance of the Dead is nearly as early as some people do. There are references to Number 6's being new, but there are also clues that he has been there for a while. Number 6 says "The maids come and they go," and Number 2 says "That he has broken rule after rule cannot be denied." I like to leave this episode where it was originally broadcast, right after Many Happy Returns. For one thing, the cat from Many Happy Returns appears in DoTD and Number 6 says "Oh, you've turned up again, have you?" Also it makes more sense if the dead body is used to explain Number 6's disappearance at the end of MHR, rather than his original disappearance. If he had resigned his job in London and turned up dead at sea shortly thereafter, this would have looked very suspicious. On the other hand, if the jet from MHR had disappeared, and Number 6's body had then turned up in the sea, this would have looked very natural. And after all, some way had to be found to explain to the rest of the world what had happened to Number 6 at the end of MHR. Even if we presume that both Thorpe and James were working for the Village, the original pilot of the aircraft certainly wasn't. Kirby suggests: "Perhaps this episode should be considered nothing more than an elaborate birthday present! Let's suppose No. 2 was a kind, elderly woman, who wants to see her prisoners a little bit happier. In No. 6's case, she gives him a "birthday gift" of having him return home and find out where the Village is!" I have to strongly disagree with this. After all that we heard about how vitally important Number 6 is, it is impossible to believe that they would take such large chances with him on a mere whim. Suppose that the gun-runners had killed him, for example? You cannot tell me that MHR was an attempt to make Number 6 happy. Rather, it was an attempt to drive him completely over the edge through the trauma of bringing him back to the Village just when he had finally begun to believe that he was rid of it. Also to reduce his desire to escape by showing him that he can never be secure even if does manage to get away. G. Cree Response from Kirby : The most confusing part raised is the issue of ``conformity.'' What is it that the society called ``The Village'' wants to follow under No.6? What is it that Patrick McGoohan does not want the public to conform to in real life? This is, I think, one of the reasons why ``Fall Out'' is such a morally challenging story. Obviously ``mannerisms'' and ``ideals'' are the two issues at play here. We know that No. 6 despises society imitating his behavior and his personality (The President discusses this at great lengths. Even if what he says is a con game or not, Number Six rejects whatever he asks for.) So, with mannerisms out of the way, we come to ``ideals.'' This, we believe, is the problem PMcG had with the episode. He knew that he wants everyone to think for themselves (he knows his ideals aren't the best in the world!), but the only way to promote this is by preaching this. Talk about a paradox! ``Fall Out'' was a way to illustrate this ideal without preaching it . . . this is about the only solution that exists. We have to solve it for ourselves, otherwise we would blame PMcG with blatant hypocrisy (those who solve the riddle would understand why he would conceal such a thing). To sum up what we have to say concerning conformity, we say, ``He desires independent minds working for a collective whole.'' He despises all forms of conformity, and conceals the ``paradox of individualism'' because of its implications. We don't truthfully know if this is what he preaches in this episode, because PMcG won't (and shouldn't) tell us. He wants people to listen to him, but he does't want to preach anything. The literal meaning of ``Fall Out'' has less weight than the allegorical meaning. After all, McGoohan wanted the viewers to ``read into it'' much more than simply ``face value.'' However, for completeness sake, there should indeed be a literal meaning. Our literal translation of the episode is this: Since Number Six had proved himself to be a powerful asset for the Village (see OUAT), the heads of the Village request him to be a leader of the Village. They bring in two other ``prisoners'' who failed the supreme test to become a ``leader''; one of these was a Number Two, who ran affairs of the Village, but was never truly a ``head'' of the Village; indeed, even he was given a number. They allowed No.6 to make the ultimate decision concerning their fates, trying to give No.6 some authoriative experience. Nevertheless, Number Six rejects this position of authority; he was against the Village from the beginning. The leaders concede to this, but since they still consider him to be an asset, they ``ask'' Number One to force him to become a member; that is, they want Number One to use his hypnotic powers on Number Six. What they failed to realize was that Number Six knew what was about to happen; he drops the orb before being influenced by it, and locks Number One up. Number One could be considered a clone-like character like we’ve seen with the gardener in “Arrival” and the reporter in “Free For All”. He is a clone of Number Six that was running the show but inferior since the real Number Six was not yet broken and robbed of critical information. Since the present leaders expect him to either come out 1) hynotized (in the orbital module), or 2) not at all, Number Six had to plan his escape. He seeks the aid of the two rejected prisoners and the butler, and ultimately, kills everyone who was in their way. They make their escape, but he realizes that it's only the beginning: the rest of his life, much like in real life, will be a struggle to avoid the Village. Speaking of DOtD, one thing I don't agree with concerns the dead body scenario. I think there is just as much impact (even more) to bring in the ``death-in-real-world'' idea before a semi-late episode such as ``Many Happy Returns,'' because the episode becomes somewhat senseless as time goes on. The whole story is about trying to get No.6 to give in because of what they have done to his real- life identity. Why would this be introduced really late, when Number Six becomes so resistent to joining the Village that they have to use drugs on him like in ``A.B. and C.''? Mary Morris still felt that there was enough motive to crack him through non-physical ways. By the end of ``Schizoid Man,'' they had given up on that philosophy. Lastly, let me rephrase my Theories Page discussion on ``Many Happy Returns.'' Yes, this episode was an attempt at breaking No.6. The best part was stripping away from Number Six the one thing he desired most . . . freedom. The excuse to give No.6 a bit of freedom was to consider it a ``birthday gift.'' They use Georgina Cookson because her warm personality is an irony of what the Village is actually doing. Thus, they intended to break No.6 with this birthday scenario. In "Once Upon A Time", Number 2 is only given one week to perform the Degree Absolute with Number 6. Therefore, it's very rushed. There is an air of impatience and irritability to both Number 6 and Number 2 in the beginning of the episode. Number 6 goes up to another villager and provokes him in a particularly nonsensical way. This seems to imply that Number 6 is no longer mentally stable, and the sudden rush (since conventional wisdom seems to suggest that the village had him for over two years), may have been because because of his deteriorating mental state. Whatever the reason, Degree Absolute is begun. Overtly, it is a method of trying to "turn" number 6. Before this, it has always been done by trying to get him to reveal why he resigned. Think about it, though, Number 6's resignation was never a secret to them. We in the audience know that he resigned for moral reasons. The leaders of the Village could not be so dense as to miss that. Therefore, it's not so much the reason why he resigned which is important, but the fact that the Village wants to make him do something which he is unwilling to do. It comes out in Degree Absolute that another thing which Number 6 won't do is kill. McGoohan states that he was adamant about his characters never using guns; he didn't feel it was morally correct. However, by the end of Degree Absolute, Number 2 has escalated the battle of wills to a point where there was no choice but for 6 to kill 2. Presented in that context, it seems as if Number 6 has won the fight; however, the whole goal was to erode just enough of 6's belief system that he violates his own moral code, and kills. Number 6 has been broken. Game, set, and match to the Village. (this next part is supposition) However, it was done in too short of a time. The strain was too much and Number 6 undergoes a complete mental collapse. "Fall Out" is the product of Number 6's collapse. It is a surreal and nonsensical figment of Number 6's imagination (whether staged by the Village, or just a delusion). The senate of Harlequin masks praise Number 6 as having met all of the Villages challenges, and finally ascending to the point of a Free Man. Number 6 is bemused by the proceedings, and watches as they bring out the hippie, and revive Number 2. Then they give Number 6 a choice, "Lead us, or go." They give him some money, and other things, all of which Number 6 accepts before beginning to make a speech. Number 6 treats this casually, almost as a joke, until he tries to make a speech, and the Harlequins won't let him finish one sentence. This jars him enough to realize what a farce the whole thing is. 6's conflict was not some ivory-towered debate about freedom, he was fighting for his life. The conflicts may have been viewed as a game, but they were not. To accept either choice would be to compromise his already compromised morals. So he runs away. In the rocket tube room, he meets Number 1, pulls away his Harlequin mask and sees a monkeys face. He pulls that away and sees his own face. I view that as follows: Number 6, even though he never cooperated, played along with all the games of the Village. They phrased the whole thing as a game, so that he would lose track, beneath all the witty dialogue, and bizarre costumes, that their only purpose was to destroy him. He finally did this, and lost sight of his goal of escape. More and more of his confrontations with the Number 2's seemed to be about 6 defeating 2, not about 6 escaping. Throughout the episodes, there were many ways in which 6 could have escaped, and yet he didn't. So, in the final analysis, who was responsible for keeping him in the Village? He was. Therefore HE was Number 1. The village had made a monkey out of him. With this realization, he becomes completely broken, abandons all hint of morals and slaughters everyone in the Village, except for Number 2, and the hippie. J. L. Smith The Butler's Umbrella The umbrella and bowler hat are synonymous with the British Civil Service (This is what Leo Mckern is wearing when he enters the Houses Of Parliament in Fall Out) and this reinforces the idea of the butler representing the quiet machinery of government which works almost undetected to keep everything going. He appears in the open air with umbrella and hat usually after a crisis, often a failed escape attempt, and so I take the Butlers appearance at these time to indicate that business as usual has immediately been resumed, and that the Village as a whole has not been affected by whatever has just happened even if the immediate prospects of the current Number Two have been. Where The Village is located The A20 is the main road from London to Dover. Dover is the busiest port for trucks coming into the United Kingdom, hundreds of them cross into England from the continent there every day. I believe by showing them on this road we are being led to believe that Number Six and Co. have driven over from Europe, and that the Village is located somewhere on the continent. Leo McKern says in Once Upon A Time that the truck is fully self contained, can go anywhere and has food supplies for six months, which indicates that it would have been possible for them to have made quite a long journey before reaching Dover. It would be very difficult to hide the village in as densely populated a county as Kent near the A20 which further indicates they were using the road to get from the port to London. In addition the mountains that surround the Village, often shown on maps and as far as I can remember only once shown on camera preclude locating the village anywhere in England although do not stop it being located in Scotland or Wales. Why Number Six Resigned Number Six resigned, 'Because for a very long time...', this response implies he suffered a growing disillusionment with his job in the secret service. I think he joined the service full of idealism to fight for freedom, especially after have just beaten the oppressive Nazi regime in the Second World War. Unfortunately as time went on he found his masters fell far short of his standards and ideals and he realised he was not helping the cause of freedom by doing their dirty work for them. This of course would leave such a highly principled and independent man as Number Six no option but to resign. Fall Out Fall Out on the surface at least is a study of different types of rebellion against society, society being represented by all the cloaked, masked and labelled people sitting behind the 'President'. What is shown is how society deals with these three types of rebellion. Number Forty Eight's rebellion is portrayed as being merely the inviable consequence of his youth, 'he rebels because he must', but then must be 'brought to book with a smack on his backside'. The masked men sing along with him and begin to stir from their places momentarily but then are quite content to settle down once he is recaptured. His rebellion is done for fun, it causes no one to question the status quo. The rebellion of the 'late Number Two' cannot be dismissed as lightly as he was a figure that commanded respect and is still treated with such; the President gives way to him to speak from his podium and the masked men become silent and attentive when he raises his finger. However this playing along encourages him and after making his statesman-like speech he then decides to try and out-stare Number One, this to the assembled populous is clearly going too far, the once trusted man is now out of control and the President can now treat him as a rebel without alarming the masked men. When it comes to Number Six's rebellion the President knows he has got a problem. Number Six has taken everything the Village can throw at him and survived intact, clearly his rebellion is a source of strength and must be taken seriously and he cannot be shown to be a turncoat who has 'turned upon and bitten the hand that feeds him'. The solution is to say, Right you win, you were right all along, show us the way. The masked men are then happy as their Hero is being treated with the respect that he deserves, indeed they are so encouraged to adulate Number Six that they fail to actually listen to a single word that he says. The fact that this is a trick is revealed when Number Six is taken below as another transparent plastic 'orbit' tube is being prepared for him. K. White Response from Kirby : The theory of the Butler's umbrella makes some sense. Instead of us suggesting that ``Something major is going down!'', you instead suggest a subtle opposite that ``Everything's okay.'' Very intriguing. The idea about the A20 also gives some weight to the idea that the Village is located on an island/peninsula described in ``Many Happy Returns,'' but doesn't rule out an omnipresent Village. Of course, something to ponder is, ``If Number Six travelled from Gibraltar all the way to England, how come no one asked for his passport?'' To which someone would reply, ``Remember, he got a passport from The President!'' Most interpretations of The Prisoner concentrate on the obvious political and moral aspects of the series. I'd like to offer a metaphysical reading. The central focus of Number 6's interrogation is the question "Why did you resign?" Obviously his was no run of the mill resignation -- he has committed the ultimate resignation of suicide. Number 2, the intermediary Inquisitor between Number 6 and Number 1 (who is either Number 6 or Mankind or the Self depending on how you read the final episode) wants to know why The Prisoner rejected Life. The recurrent question directed at the protagonist is basically: "why did you kill yourself?" The French Existentialist Albert Camus thought that the only real question of philosophy was "why not commit suicide?", given that all human activity is ultimately futile. The Prisoner's attempts to escape the Village are fittingly Sisyphean. During the series we learn that Number 6 was successful, loyal and dedicated in his professional capacity and about to be married to a beautiful woman in his personal life. The fact that he "resigned" from this evident happiness is the source of the pathos of the central figure -- he is strong, intelligent and affluent and yet he still could not answer the question "why?" (the unanswerable question he feeds into "The General" to destroy the computer). There is inferred evidence for this interpretation e.g. the fact that he is gassed (a popular means of suicide before coal gas was replaced by less lethal stuff piped in from the North Sea) by a man dressed as an undertaker; the "resignation" of the new Number 8 he so strongly identifies with in "The Chimes of Big Ben" is strongly associated with her suicidal tendency (she suggestively says at one point "I didn't think it would be like this" and like Kafka's Josef K., she has committed no crime.); in "Do not Forsake me..." one of the photos in Number 6's codified sequence is of Beachy Head, England's most popular suicide spot. When the Prisoner finally "escapes", moreover, he returns to London in a cage and no living person responds to or acknowledges any of the "escapees" - the Prisoner dances with frustration before an oblivious policeman, the youth fails to hitch a lift. Evidently, when the door opens to the Butler in the same way that the doors open in the village, they have not escaped at all. The Hell which is the Village is, as in Dante, circular and eternal. The ambiguous location of the Village -- it is variously positioned in Lithuania, Morrocco and just down the A20 from London. Clearly, Number 6 is an Everyman in a universal Village of the mind. You can extend this line of reasoning as far as you like e.g. the black/white of the on-going chess game is the fight for 6's soul in a classical catholic Purgatory (confess your sins to escape); the two sides (tantalisingly represented by Leo McKern's Number 2 as "mirror images") are God and the Great Adversary (Whose side are you on?). Number 1 is neither of these figures, of course, because in the post-Nietschean Existentialist phlosophy which underpins the series, "God is Dead" and existence precedes essence, therefore the ultimate responsibility for the World of Mankind rests with Mankind: "They had a choice", says Number 2 in The Arrival. Perhaps the rocket ship in Fall Out, as suggested in the title is not a Saturn 5 blasting Number 6/1 off to become the Man-in-the-Moon but the intercontinental harbinger of nuclear war (don't forget the Cold War!) -- thus Number 6's resignation is not just his own suicide but the ultimate obscenity of Mutually Assured Destruction -- the suicide of the human race. Number 6, a political pawn, could no longer think of a reason to live as power-games and subterfuge fogged his understanding of life. Similarly, in the 60s we nearly lost the plot as a species. Mark Brassington Response from Kirby : Interesting, but there are several sections to debate here. The idea that No.6 commits mental suicide is almost antithetical of what happens. He is clearly gassed and kidnapped from an ``outside source'' against his will. I think No.6 is too strong-willed to accept suicide. I think that a more ``allegorical'' interpretation of ``Why did you resign?'' should be ``Why do you reject society?'' . . . if the answer to the question that has been eluding No.2 throughout the series was ``I was becoming an expendable asset rather than a human being'' while he was working for the secret service, then this allegorical interpretation would certainly hold true. Some of the examples you use come from ``Do Not Forsake Me...'' and ``The General.'' Personally, we thought that these episodes broke most of the norms established from the other episodes of the series (except ``The Girl Who was Death''). Neither of these have a very Prisoner-esque feel to it; we don't like borrowing snippets from these two episodes for support. I do think the perfect floor of debate is ``Dance of the Dead,'' but somehow you didn't mention it! There was a question about what the guys sitting around the bubble (I refuse to call it Rover), are doing in the episode “Free for All”. Honestly, I think that they are just having a coffee break. I think that the indication is that the bubble is an autonomous, sentient being who gets on with his co-workers and they sit and have a chat, and probably compare notes on the tough cases (like 6). Given the positioning, I think that the bubble is higher on the chain of command, but not boss, but they all seem to be, at least, on friendly terms. I find it more unnerving that the bubbles are thinking, caring individuals, that have a place in a social structure, but are still so impersonally powerful and omnipotent over Number 6 (and, by extension, the other true prisoners). Further to that, there was a comment about the psychological/allegorical meaning of the bubbles, honestly, I think that the suffocation is enough. These things come and they crush you into submission, but leave no mark to complain of. After you are a good boy, they lead you home, like a good nanny. They almost correct with kindness...but they stop your breathing and take away life itself if you fuss too much (but of course take very good care if you behave, so nice and soft and cozy). They are an allegory for the Village itself...deadly if you resist, comfortable if you give in, smothering either way. Jen Response from Kent : The reason just might be as simple as something like a coffee break. It's probably best that Rover didn't invite co-workers to his own office for a break. Then again, some of them do seem to have on wetsuits in Fall Out. The thought of a warder being “sweet with kindness but snuffing your life if you misbehave” is one of the worst horrors I can imagine, just from the logic of it. After all, just what is the definition of “misbehaving”? I've also watched the 1977 interview, and read various websites about The Prisoner and Danger Man, and also what Wikipedia has to say. My one thought to offer, which I don't think I've seen expressed explicitly (I may be wrong of course) is that the fact that in the final episode, the fact that we see them driving towards London on the A20 apparently from the Dover direction does not necessarily imply that The Village is in the UK. Dover is of course a ferry port, so they could have driven over from the continent. This could tie in with it being in an island off the coast of Morocco, as per "Many Happy Returns". They could have got a ferry to the Moroccan mainland, then another ferry to Spain, then driven through Spain and France to Dover. A long drive, admittedly, especially in a large truck, but theoretically possible. I'm also strongly inclined to believe that The Village was meant to be outside England because we saw that they almost always had fine days. Now you do get sunshine in North Wales (i.e. Portmeirion), which is why they were able to portray The Village with having fine weather all the time. However, it is not reliable, so either they were lucky, or they probably had to wait until they got fine weather before filming could take place. The rest of the UK is similarly unreliable as far as sunshine is concerned, so I am sure that what was being suggested for most of the series was that it was somewhere warmer and sunnier than the UK, and off the coast of Morocco fits the bill quite well. Now, I'm fairly sure that in "Many Happy Returns" The Village was seen to be on an island. Although he doesn't have total freedom of movement, he's always walking we are told, so I am sure No. 6 would have been able to establish whether or not he was really on an island when he was back in The Village. That in itself does not prove that it's not in the UK, although there are not all that many candidates. The Isle of Wight I suppose, or The Channel Islands. (They both probably tend to have milder weather than the British mainland, although also not particularly reliable, given the marine climate). Against that is that you wouldn't normally come to the UK from them via Dover. M. Ellwood Response from Kirby : I had thought a good deal as to ‘whether’ or not weather played a role in the location of the Village. But, I believe the skies were usually clear or simply cloudy just because of production reasons. If the script didn’t call for rotten weather, they weren’t going to implement rotten weather. (Some outdoor sequences were actually shot at Borehamwood.) Last, you can’t tell very much if the weather is warm versus cold. So, I don’t value weather too strongly. So what exactly was he trying to say in the series and especially in the final episode? I believe that the rocket trip is escapism (abandonment of control / running away from responsibility). Violence is loss of restraint as patience and tolerance is staying put and trying to understand how things work, so you can fix them in the here and now (engineering the present). Rebellion is unwillingness to put up with things as they are and in the end, The Prisoner turns to the violence in himself, to escape the complexity of life and the threat (fear) of death. No.1’s monkey mask represents the more basic self, and the pulling off of that to reveal the maniac’s face indicates the insanity we all try to suppress (denial of the devil within). The controlled self is the ego on the throne. The judge’s masks are the two sides of every personality. The heckling that drowned out No.6’s acceptance speech is the way fans drown out depth in their heroes and the way the authorities say they want your opinion but then just ignore it; the media’s role in making up the truth was well described in the episode, “Free for All”. The playing of “All You Need Is Love” is truth and hypocrisy at the same time or those in charge playing lip service to what the people want, while suppressing it in truth (see heckling point, previously). Einstein found this out when he turned from a nuclear scientist to a social activist. The playing of “Them Bones” is youth’s attempt to connect and make sense of the world. Leo McKern’s character represented age’s character, handcuffed by rules and regulations about what he can or can’t do (frustrated by imposed restrictions). See Zen Koans for attempts to break free from this self-imposed mind set or mental prison. Look also at Alexander The Great and his answer to The Gordian Knot. There is something reminiscent of Peer Gynt in the plot, in my opinion and Patrick McGoohan played Brand, also by Ibsen, in the Orson Wells production, to great critical acclaim. The prison is his own mind. The reason “Fall Out” is set underground is because it represents the hidden, the unconscious as the surface is the tip of the iceberg (the conscious world of action and perception rather than its opposite of thought). The escape via the tunnel therefore represents the return to conscious reality and escape from the inner world of conscience and decision making. The parting of the ways, represents how people are trapped together in mutual conflict (trying to make something / understand the world better), being released when the job is done, back into the wider world (private lives / separate identities). When the door closes behind No.6 at the very end, this indicates the restart of the cycle and the fact that the microcosm of The Village is reflected back in the macrocosm of everyday reality: no-one really escapes duty and if they do it is only temporary. “Fall Out,” by the way, has the meaning in the army of ‘You are dismissed.’ T. Sandy Response from Kirby : Yes, that is a good interpretation for the title of “Fall Out”, and I had neglected to discuss the rationale for most of the episode being underground.