The Question Is Why?
Why do we persist in watching the 17 episode ordeal of the Prisoner? Why do we put ourselves through it all repeatedly, over and over again? Perhaps through some perverse enjoyment, safe in the knowledge that once an episode is over, we can return to the relative safety of the real world.
Perverse enjoyment did I write? Well perhaps that's right. After all there we sit, watching a man, a prisoner such as No.6 being put through a series of ordeals, waiting for him to attempt to escape, but knowing full well that escape is not possible. Oh the anticipation we enjoy with ‘The Chimes of Big Ben’ for example, as time draws ever closer to the hour of eight, when Big Ben will strike the hour upon which No.6 will realise that he has been tricked. That he has not escaped the village at all. And again with ‘Many Happy Returns,’ the viewer knows full well that despite his having escaped the Village, having been allowed to escape the Village, that he will soon be returned there. We watch with excited anticipation as No.6, dangling at the end of a parachute struggles to slow his descent to the beach below. And in ‘Fall Out,’ the Prisoner has finally escaped the Village, only to discover that he's just as much a prisoner at the end as he was at the beginning!
Except in the Prisoner end is his beginning, and in that knowledge we subliminally want No.6 to remain incarcerated in the Village. The viewer actually enjoys watching his confinement, sharing with grim fascination, the various ordeals of No.6's inquisition, and confinement in the Village. In short we don't want the Prisoner known as No.6 to escape. Should he do so, then the perverse enjoyment which the viewer extracts from the Prisoner's confinement, the experiments used against him, and the dangerous situations he is both physically and mentally put in, are no longer open to us - the viewers perverse pleasure cut short.
In the prisoners escape, our pleasure is lost, and so are we.
Nadia Rokovsky, or whoever she is, is just as believable, and as capable as John Drake, and just as deceptive.
Nadia must surely have been briefed as to her mission and character, and prepared as to the community, and the village itself, being seconded the way she was. But no amount of preparation could prepare Nadia for her encounter with the white membranic Village Guardian. Because Rover does not distinguish between citizens of the village, and planted agents within that community.
The encounter must have been quite terrifying, and then of course Nadia faced an interrogation session. But of course there was no danger of her being electrocuted by the current of electricity running through the floor of the interrogation room. Yet having said that there was more than a touch of urgency as he shouted the order "Switch off, switch off." So the floor of the interrogation room really was electrified!
Nadia, or whoever she was, had put her life in No.2's hands. A brave woman, for whichever side she was on.
Which Could Sum-Up The General Public's View Of McGoohan & the Prisoner
"The committee are intrigued with your abstract but they're mystified... could you spare a minute to give them a word?"
And the committee member's comment echoes the thoughts of the television viewer.
"We're not quite sure what it means."
Be seeing you
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