Generally speaking the treatment of the Prisoner known as Number Six was pretty fair, what I mean to write is, that no real physical or mental harm came to the Prisoner. Yes there were times when “they” No.2 and the Village Administration took risks with the Prisoner, but in the end he was pretty much unscathed by the treatment he received. Had it been any other man he might very well have ended up broken, a man of fragments. But at the end of the day Number Six had to be tested, to find his metal, his worth. If the Prisoner known as Number Six was to have a future with the Village, then he had to undergo several tests, and if he survived, and if he survived the ultimate test, then he No.6 would be the 1. Is that what ‘the Prisoner’ is all about, finding the 1? Testing people until they found their man of steel, a man magnificently equipped to lead them as being the 1?
But for all of their threats, “I don‘t want a man of fragments, you don’t want to damage him!” “We mustn’t damage the tissue,” this man has a future with us, that he’s far too important. Well there are times when they almost broke No.6, they were close in ‘The Schizoid Man,’ and again in ‘Living In Harmony.’ Put him in a dangerous environment, give him love, take it away, make him kill, face him with death, and he’ll break if only in the mind! And the risks they took, changing his mind, forcing No.6 to take a dangerous sea voyage. Facing him with himself, did they think that would finally break No.6?
At the end, if it was indeed the end, would a man come out of the Village the same as he went in? Could he remain so un-affected by the experience? And if it wasn’t the end, and if he knew it, would he still be prepared to go through all that we know to be ‘the Prisoner’ again? And if it was the end, what then? Could the man we know as No.6 simply return to the outside world, forget and simply get on with his life? He showed us in ‘Many Happy Returns’ that that was not possible, as he had questions he wanted answers to, and if he could not find them there with his ex-colleagues, then else where. So at the end, if indeed it was the end, the Prisoner would still not be able to rest. He would still be a prisoner, physically free in the outside world, but mentally a prisoner because he could not forget.
Today such a man would seek compensation in the high courts, even taking his case to the European court of human rights, or whatever it’s called. In wanting someone to be brought to account for his unfair treatment. And yet he was getting the same treatment as everybody else, so really No.6 had nothing to complain about, he shouldn’t have resigned in the first place! It’s having chucked up his job that was the catalyst for what would take place afterwards. And I think the Prisoner knew that, otherwise why was he trying to get away so quickly, to escape before they came for him. And they did come for him, and the Prisoner was expecting them, he just couldn’t get away quickly enough that was all. You will recall that’s how it was with Cobb, they came for him before he was ready, that he was expecting them!
Did the Prisoner have to resign? I suppose he had arrived at a point in his career when his resignation became inevitable. But why run? Perhaps because he knew that he would never get away with his resignation. That they would never leave him in peace, to remain at home with his cigars and slippers in quiet retirement! And why should they? The Prisoner was their man, they had recruited him, trained him, invested both their time and money in him. Why should they simply let him chuck in his job and walk away? Only if it were his own people who had done this thing to him, protecting what was theirs. Now if it was the other side who had abducted the Prisoner to the Village, they would have been far more energetic at extracting every piece of information inside the Prisoner’s head, until there was nothing left but an empty shell of a man. They would not be interested in why the Prisoner resigned, but if he could be made to answer that question, then the rest would follow! But No.6 is made of sterner stuff, he resisted, overcame coercion. Fought, held fast, maintained, and eventually he vindicated the right of the individual to be individual, and we salute him.
What is it to be Number 6, an individual, a man of steel, a man magnificently equipped to lead the Village, that is lead them or go. But he turned his back on the Village and then he went and gone. He found freedom through escape. But what is freedom, and can anyone truly escape? The Prisoner is still the man he was upon his return to
“When I was one I had just begun
When I was two I was nearly new
When I was three I was hardly me
When I was four I was not much more
When I was five I was just alive
When I am six, I’m as clever as clever;
So I think I shall stay six now and for ever and ever.”
“Now We Are Six” - A. A. Milne
Be seeing you