It has been said that the reason behind so many different No.2's was so that it would not be possible for a relationship to build up between No.6 and any given No.2. This also gave the opportunity for different characters, which has been given the title of "bank manager syndrome," a situation often encountered by an individual or customer with a grievance. A person might visit a bank to lodge a complaint, only to be asked to return the next day for satisfaction. On the following day, the complainant would find that a different official had taken the place of the first one. Thus a feeling of frustration and isolation would be induced within the complainant. This we actually witness during the episode of It’s Your Funeral, when No.2 pays a call on No.2, and is confused by the person sitting in the chair behind No.2's desk:
"I want to see No.2."
"I am No.2" the retiring No.2 assures his visitor, from the relative comfort of his chair.
Well No.6 had previously only seen No.2, the heir presumptive. But why No.6 didn't actually recognise No.2 who had just returned from a spell of leave I don't know!
The fact that No.6 keeps on meeting new No.2's might be frustrating for him, as he is never allowed to deal with any one person in charge. This is never better demonstrated than during the Prisoners arrival in the village. No.2 the gentleman after debriefing the Prisoner sets about giving him an aerial tour of the village, to see him settled in fact, and does his best to make the Prisoner feel 'at home.' However, the new No.2 isn't so much the gentleman. In fact he threatens the Prisoner that if he doesn't give them what they want, "they'll take it."
This new No.2 easily dismisses the Prisoners questions about his predecessor "I have taken his place. I am the new Number 2." And from that moment with each approaching episode we are reminded about the new No.2 during the opening sequence;
"Who are you?"
"The new No.2"
Well save for the episodes of A B and C when No.2 says with confidence "I am No.2." But by the time we see this particular No.2 again in the episode of The General, it's "I am the new No.2."
Why two of the No.2's were actually brought back for a "second bite at the apple" shall we say, remains a mystery. Perhaps because the blame of previous failures could not be laid fully at their door. So were given a second chance to prove themselves. Which of course in both cases No.2 was found to be wanting!
Is there strength in numbers as far as the continuation of No.2's are concerned? True it could be said that each progressive No.2 seems to be stronger than his or her predecessor, certainly in the case of Arrival this can be safely said. But not in the case No.2 in Hammer Into Anvil, he is the weak link in the chain of control. But simply on the grounds that he trusts no one, not even his assistant No.14.
So where exactly is the strength in numbers for No.2? None of them treat No.6 in the same manner. Some show little interest in No.6 at all, until he pokes his nose in of course, as with The General for example. And not every No.2 enjoys success when it comes to No.6, Only 6 out of all the No.2's were able to enjoy a positive result when it comes to No.6. Although even then No.2 of The Schizoid Man is on dodgy ground. He may have stopped No.6 from escaping the village in the guise of Curtis. But the rest a complete and utter failure, in the plan to break No.6. So really it's only 5 success for No.2. So where is the strength here, I ask you?
Perhaps it is the strength in character of No.6 which is the stronger. It is a pity that No.2's hands were tied for so long a time. No.2 put under pressure even before the start of A B & C, to be given so short a time, for example.
It is suggestive that the changing of each No.2 is largely cosmetic. After all the majority seem hell bent on breaking No.2, hammering him even, in order to obtain the reason behind his resignation. Plus, No.6 is able to treat them all the same. They all live in the Green Dome, they all wear the old school scarf, badge of office, and carry about them an umbrella shooting stick. Well save for Mrs. Butterworth, and this means that No.6 does not have to change his way in dealing with them. Well again save for No.2 of the Chimes of Big Ben, Once Upon A Time and Fall Out perhaps, seeing as there is something of a relationship building up between the two men. And not to mention No.2 of The General, "No.6 and I are old friends my dear" No.2 informs the Professors wife, if he's simply not being sarcastic of course!
It would have been interesting to see a permanent No.2. Interesting to see who would have worn the other down first, No.2 or his adversary No.6? Possible No.2 would have felt the pressure first. Not simply because No.6 is able to out wit each village chairman at every turn. But also any permanent No.2 would be under constant pressure and threat from No.1, and on a permanent basis day in day out!
If we accept the fact that No.6 is able to outwit each village chairman simply by the strength of character. Then in this aspect we take it that No.6's integrity is greater that that of each No.2. Then by accepting this, we relies that the strength of the village regime is equal only to the sum of parts.
No.6 is an individual, No.2 is not. The village chairmen are all basically the same. Subordinate, rule-following, and scared of failure!
No.6 is his own person, or so he tells us, and has a free spirit which the village would like to examine, then own and break. If its servant, No.2, can get No.6 to tell the reason behind his resignation, his private armour will have been penetrated. In short he will have been made to submit.
The maxim of the village seems to be that there is strength in numbers, by employing a chain of No.2's to challenge No.6. Their Prisoner always breaks the chain by finding its weakest link. That link is always in the form of the new No.2. And as we know, any chain is only as strong as its weakest link!
Be seeing You