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Friday 11 April 2014

Public Enemy Number 6!

   What, like that John Dillinger bloke in the 1920's, who was the original public enemy No.1, and yet a hero to others?
    No.2 "No matter what significance you may hold for me, to the Village and its committee you are merely citizen No.6, who has to be tolerated - and if necessary shaped to fit."
    No.6 "Public enemy No.6!"
   To many the Prisoner-No.6 is a hero, or anti-hero depending on your point of view. While in the Village he’s a rebel, a troublemaker, but then what would you expect when a goat comes amongst so many sheep. He is a reactionary who resists the Village. He’s disharmonious, disruptive, and an outcast from society at large! And yet we applaud his behaviour, although in society such behaviour is frowned upon, perhaps in the Prisoner's character people see something that they would like to be.
   For years the Prisoner was a hero of mine, like John Drake of ‘Danger Man.’ But in recent times I’ve come to look upon the Prisoner as a character who is too good to be true. Perhaps I have reached the point where I no longer believe in him in quite the same way as I used to. He no longer mesmerises me!



  1. Hello, David. I'm not quite certain if you'll notice this response right away (as it is a comment on an article that is almost 4 years old), but I still feel compelled to speak out here.

    I'm a 23 year old guy who absolutely adores The Prisoner. It is, in my opinion, the greatest TV series of all time. If you're wondering how come I'm even aware of its existence (as most people my age know little about it), that is thanks to my mother, who loves these older, more surreal spy shows (The Avengers, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., etc). The Prisoner always stood out to me because of Number 6 himself.

    I have always related to the character because I feel that this series was very prophetic. The world is a dark place now, where individualism is beaten down and often crushed. As a loner myself, I understand exactly how Number 6 feels in day to day life. I constantly feel pushed to conform. For years, I never had a girlfriend because I simply didn't want one, but my friends always viewed me as a freak or wondered if I was gay. The same happened when I was younger because I never went to school (I was home educated). All the kids I knew back then thought it was plain odd and I was singled out because of it. The world has become one big Village (as Mckern's Number 2 spoke of in Chimes of Big Ben).

    Recently, I've been in a bad place. I entered my first relationship with a woman last year, and things were good for a while...but we ended up letting each other down. The part I played in the break up made me feel like a failure, and I began to beat myself up over it. It was only then, at my lowest point, that I understood the true meaning of Fall Out (at least, what I believe to be the true meaning of Fall Out). That we are all Number 1. I know that might seem obvious, but there's more to it than that. You see, most people seem to think that McGoohan cheated his audience by revealing that Number 6 was Number 1 all the time, but I think it makes perfect sense if you regard the whole finale (or 99% of it) as being purely allegorical. In that moment, Number 6 had just been tempted by the President of the Village to accept the position as leader, and Number 6 realised that a part of him was flattered by this. He realised what was actually happening... This was one final attempt to break him, by trying to make him accept the role of Number 1 (and therefore, accept that he is just a number after all). All the praise heaped upon him was just that, a final attempt break him. And Number 6 realised this. He also realised that he himself had been tempted, and saw within himself that same potential to be bad, to be flawed. That's why the scene with Number 1 is so confusing to the eye, because so many things are happening at once. Number 1 represents evil within everyone, and Number 6 saw a reflection of himself in Number 1 because he had accepted that darker part of himself. Because while Number 1 is an overriding force that is prevalent everywhere (like Satan, in a way), it is also a big part of oneself. I recognised this because of my state of mind at the time, and I believe McGoohan was in a bad place at the time, too (many different sources say his behaviour was extremely bizarre at the time). This doesn't weaken the message, though, because I believe it's true. Number 1 is both an external and an internal force, that we must combat every single day of our lives.

  2. Just to add to my previous comment.

    The reason I responded to this post of yours is because of what you said. You think he's too good to be true, and that you don't believe in him in quite the same way. That's sad for me to read. I think you've missed the point here. If you try and emulate Number 6, and look at him as a perfect hero...then of course your feelings will diminish in time, because Number 6 is just as human as you and I. Yes, he appears too good to be true, but he has to. He serves to inspire us, to make us want to be individual and rebel against internal and external forces that want to corrupt us. It is because I have accepted that Number 6 is not perfect that I have a newfound admiration for him again. For a while, I forgot just how much I cared about the character and the series as a whole.

    1. Hello again,
      As a matter of fact one of the scriptwriters who worked on ‘the Prisoner’ said Number 6 is too perfect. As a spy being interrogated, having his mind conditioned in so many ways, even to the point of being brainwashed, he doesn’t bend, not even a little. Such a man undergoing what he did without bending would break, which is what Number 2 in ‘Chimes’ didn’t want, a man of fragments.
      I used to look at Number 6 as the hero, but at the same time he’s the villain if he’s also Number 1. Perhaps that’s why no real harm befalls Number 6, perhaps Number 1 makes sure it doesn’t.
      People see Number 6 as rebelling against bureaucracy, against the system. But is he? I suppose it’s so if one sees The Village as a representation of our own society. But actually Number 6 is rebelling against his enforced imprisonment in The Village which is basically a prison, and against his identity having been taken away from him.
      And yet at the same time it teaches us to ask questions, to protest, and not to accept things as they are.

      I can see we’ll be talking again in a few minutes
      Best wishes

  3. Here's my episode order for the series that I think makes the most sense.

    1. Arrival
    2. Dance of the Dead
    3. Free For All
    4. Checkmate
    5. The Chimes of Big Ben
    6. The General
    7. A. B. and C.
    8. The Schizoid Man
    9. Many Happy Returns
    10. It's Your Funeral
    11. A Change of Mind
    12. Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling
    13. Living in Harmony
    14. Hammer Into Anvil
    15. The Girl Who Was Death
    16. Once Upon a Time
    17. Fall Out

    Here's my reasoning for placing certain episodes in certain positions.

    First of all, I think The General MUST come before A. B. and C because in ABC Colin Gordon's Number 2 says "I am Number 2", instead of new Number 2. This is definitive proof for me. Yes, he says that he and Number 6 are old friends in The General, but I think this can be explained as meaning that he and Number 6 met each other a few times long ago, before Number 6 resigned (there's no indication to suggest that the first time Number 6 speaks with Number 2 in The General is the first time they've seen each other in the Village. For all we know Number 6 might have been shocked to see a familiar face when he first arrived, or maybe he just chose not to comment on the fact that they knew each other before the Village). It's also true than in A. B. and C. Number 2 says "we haven't seen a lot of each other". I think this means that the events of The General occurred over a month ago, and in that time Number 6 hasn't interacted with Number 2 at all, and during that time Number 2 has been clinging to his job and by this point, his time is almost up.

    I also believe that The Schizoid Man must occur before Many Happy Returns because of the dates. I know it takes Number 6 25 days a sea, so the events of The Schizoid Man must be over and done with within a week, and I believe that's possible. Yes, it's true that Number 6's fingernail grew and that he also grew a mustache, but I think this can be explained by the Village speeding up his metabolism somehow. Why would they do this? To get the process over with as quickly as possible. Why do that? Because if it lasted weeks and weeks then Number 6 might notice seasonal changes (for example, the sun rising and setting 30 minutes earlier/later than it should), and this would wreck the whole illusion that only one night has passed.

    Many, many Prisoner fans think that the Number 2 in The Schizoid Man is referring to the General the computer, rather than a human being. I give this a lot of thought and do believe that he must be referring to a human. Why? Because of Number 2's offer in The General to Number 6, saying that his freedom could be bought if he gives up the recorder with the professor's message. You see, if the General occurs after The Schizoid Man, then that must mean it comes after Many Happy Returns, too, and I don't believe it can, because the WHOLE point of Many Happy Returns is to cement that there is no escape from the Village, not even if he actually leaves. Therefore, the offer of freedom would be worthless, and would serve to diminish the Village's new narrative that escape is not possible at all.

    Well, I think that's everything. If you'd like to inquire about my episode order further than that's fine, I'd be glad to talk about it more.

    I think you're doing a great job on here, and your devotion to this wonderful series is admirable. I wish you all the best, David.

    Be seeing you.

    1. Hello,
      As it happens I did notice your three comments as they appeared at the top of the comments listings.
      Thank you for taking time to write, indeed you have bared part of your soul in this comment. As for the age of the article that doesn’t matter in the least, it may have been written four years ago, but to anyone reading it like yourself it’s new.
      I am always interested in learning how people find ‘the Prisoner’ and become fans of the series. Also I am aware of many people who have found ‘the Prisoner’ to help them with emotional problems. Indeed there have been times in my own life when the Prisoner has helped me, the series gave me purpose, now he’s a real part of my life!
      Yes we are all Number 1, and individually we all take care of Number 1 in our own way, putting Number 1 first. Number 1 is the darker side of our character, he makes all the tough decisions, and at times our other self has to keep 1 in check. Much of what you write about Number 1 is true. But whether Number 6 has been Number 1 all the time, well I’ve never been too sure of that. Oh I know Number 6 turns out to be Number 1, but before McGoohan had written the script for ‘Fall Out’ he really had no idea who Number 1 was. So up until the advent of ‘Fall Out,’ Number 1 could have been anyone. The thing about ‘Fall Out’ is, it isn’t like any of the previous episodes, I see it as a last throw of the dice to break Number 6, a final attempt to manipulate him.
      All anyone can do is work with what we see in ‘the Prisoner,’ and how each of us interprets the series is up to ourselves alone. Patrick McGoohan once said that 1,000 people can each have a different meaning about ‘the Prisoner’ and they would all be right. And I applaud your comment.

      Best wishes

    2. Hello once more,
      I am always interested to learn enthusiasts own personal screening order for ‘the Prisoner,’ and how they arrived at it. I myself have my own particular order, although for the time being I’m not at liberty to discuss it because it is going to be used in another medium regarding ‘the Prisoner’ later in the year.
      Yours is an interesting order. For myself I would have to put ‘Hammer Into Anvil’ much earlier. As for ‘The Schizoid Man,’ I have been a fan of ‘the Prisoner’ for fifty years from the age of 12, but I have never heard anyone put “It's true that Number 6's fingernail grew and that he also grew a moustache, but I think this can be explained by the Village speeding up his metabolism somehow” put forward as a reason why ‘The Schizoid Man’ could take place in so short a time. It’s a unique idea in my experience.
      The thing with ‘A B and C’ and ‘The General’ is there are the conflicting aspects, Number 2 introducing himself as the new Number 2 in one, and saying he is Number 2 in another, while in ‘The General’ Number 2 admits he and Number 6 are old friends. Sometimes when trying to arrive at a suitable screening order, one does have to ignore some things. In my opinion two early episodes are both ‘The Schizoid Man,’ and ‘Many Happy Returns’ simply because of the dates used in the episodes which cannot be ignored.
      Regarding the General as talked about by Number 2 and Curtis/Number 6 in the back of the taxi in ‘The Schizoid Man,’ it has been noted by the scriptwriter of ‘The Schizoid Man’ Terrence Feely made that reference towards the General in the episode of the same name.
      If you wish to talk more about this in a more private environment, then please email me if you wish to do so. . But if not I shall not be offended.
      Thank you for your extremely kind comments regarding myself and my blog, they are very much appreciated.

      Have a good evening.
      Best wishes