As fans of ‘the Prisoner, we are used to dealing with inconsistencies, imponderables, improbabilities, and possibilities which the series conjures up within it’s 17 episodes. I thought for a change we would look at the 4 constants within the series. The Prisoner Patrick McGoohan, appears in every episode. The Butler Angelo Muscat, appears in 15 episodes, but in ’Many Happy Returns it is via film stock footage. The Supervisor-Number 28, or is or 26, Peter Swanwick appears in 7 episodes even if sometimes it‘s via ‘Arrival’ stock film footage! And finally there’s that white membranic mass, the Village Guardian. ‘It’s’ appearances if not in every episode, total at least all of the opening sequences save for 3. Why not count Number 2 as a constant within the series? Well the character is a constant I suppose, the only trouble being, as a character Number 2 is constantly changing, so that might be construed as a constant. And the same could be said of the Village, it too changes as the series progresses, especially when it comes to filming the Village at MGM film studios!
There are a further 2 more constants within ‘the Prisoner’ series. 1 the reason behind the Prisoner’s resignation and the Village Administration wanting to know what that reason is, that’s 2, so there must be a 3rd, that being the question of who is Number 1? Well we know who Number 1 is, and why the Prisoner resigned. We also know where the Village is, why the Prisoner was abducted in the first place, and who was behind that abduction. So where does that leave the mystery in ‘the Prisoner?’
Well it is a mystery to me why the Village Administration went to so much trouble over Number 6. So many exaggerated and elaborate plots in order to extract the reason behind the Prisoner’s resignation. As Number 6 once put it “Why not put us all into solitary confinement and get what you want, and be done with it?” Well where’s the fun in that? Besides, if it were not for such elaborate and complicated plots, there would be no room for both mistakes and failure. Number 2, the retiring one in ‘It’s Your Funeral’ told Number 6 that they never fail. Oh but they do, and more often than not in the case of Number 6, and in that regard they quite often bring about their own failure themselves, more times than not by simply underestimating Number 6, Number 2 is constantly under estimating Number 6!
Then there are the observers in the Control Room, another constant? Well they are constantly observing other people, and when we see into the Control Room, they are always the same Observers sat there at the monitors.
And Number 6 he’s always watching, waiting, constantly aggressive! Yet he is a man who has been utterly loyal, and devoted to his work. The Village sustained, and its administration unrelenting and uniform. As for ‘the Prisoner’ series itself, it has endured over the years and decades since its inception. It has remained constant in the mind, for as the President says in ‘Fall Out,’ “Remember us, don’t forget us…….keep us in mind.”
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