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Monday 14 April 2014

The Prisoner Under The Spotlight

    The Nature of The Man. No.1 and No.6 were one and the same, the one alter ego of the other, but at the time did viewers at the time actually realise that? A private war had been taking place all the time and no one knew it, not until all was revealed during 'sir's' trial during ‘Fall Out.’ But what kind of a man was he, this man with the split personality, to have the viewer put through 16 weeks of torment, they who expected something of a revelation at the end and answer put to the questions which they could not find the answers to themselves. Well not at the time anyway, today we know different.... don't we?
    At the time to many the episode of ‘Fall Out’ was an incomprehensible mish-mash, they felt they had been ripped off, in their disappointment at not having been given any answers to the questions raised within the series. Well that’s not quite right, as the location of the Village is put on the screen during the opening sequence for everyone to see. And when No.1 was revealed to be No.6, well that was when viewers felt cheated. But had they been? Because viewers had actually been told who No.1 was at the very beginning during the opening sequence to the series;
   "Who are you?"
   "The new Number 2"
   "Who is No.1?"
   "You are, No.6"
    At the beginning of almost every episode we are told that, and just when did we come to realise that? Because who would have thought at the time that a change of emphasis could alter the meaning of that piece of dialogue.
   We know that he resigned from a top secret, confidential job which he saw as being "Above the law." We even know why he resigned.... a matter of conscience, for peace of mind, because too many people know too much, He didn't accept, he rejected! Rejected what, the Village, the offer of ultimate power, his future, what? Perhaps No.6 didn't like what he had become, the No.1. Didn't like the way his darker side was running the village, but still he couldn't help himself. And if it were all in his mind... then surely he must be "Taken for mad" as No.2 of ‘Dance of the Dead’ had suggested.
   But if we are to take the allegorical meaning behind No.1, being the alter ego of No.6, then surely the question must be asked "Just whose mind are we dealing with here?" Because, and mark this well, the Prisoner which we see in the 17 episodes, is a character played by actor Patrick McGoohan. But then could, what we see in the Prisoner be that of the mind of Patrick McGoohan, the character of the Prisoner I mean and not the episodes he goes through. After all the basic idea behind the Prisoner was born from McGoohan's mind, and so being perhaps the Prisoner and his Village is a reflection of McGoohan's state of mind at that time.
   When at last No6 or 'sir' as he had become, finally comes face to face with No.1, he tears off the black and white mask to reveal that of an ape, man's evolution perhaps. The tearing off the ape mask he reveals his own face, but what lies behind that face, what's going on in McGoohan's mind at that time? Which side of No.1 is the truest do you think, that of the half crazed figure with the maniacal laughter, or that of the man who chases him round the table and eventually sealing No.1 in the nose cone of the rocket? That's one hell of a way to get rid of that part of himself which he has been waging war against for 16 weeks. A part of himself he might not be able to live without, and be a weaker man for it if he could!
   Perhaps No.2 summed it all up back in the embryo room;
"One, find missing link. Two, put it together, and if I fail, then BANG!
   This in relation to 'mans' missing link, which I suppose could be identified by the ape mask, but does not reveal what lies behind No.1's face. Was he insane for example, well if he were then No.2 of ‘Dance of the Dead’ got it right when she said No.6 must be taken for mad! But then when No.2 in ‘Hammer Into Anvil’ asks the head of Psychiatrics if No.6 is mad, the doctor replies “Not according to our records.”
   And of course this is another reason why the Village medical doctors and administration were only allowed to go so far with No.6, "That they mustn’t damage the tissue." Because this man has a future with the village "No extreme measures to be used yet." "We have many ways and means but we don't wish to damage you permanently." Meaning that there was only so far that the mental conflict between No.1 and No.6 would go. No real harm would come to either one of them. Well it couldn't could it, as the mind of No.1 and No.6 are one and the same with Patrick McGoohan and his personal struggle, a conflict with himself. What that conflict might have been is anyone’s guess, but I believe the answer lies somewhere in the Prisoner.
   We know the thoughts and ideas which McGoohan had behind the Prisoner, what things he was trying to put over, social comment, that we are all at heart Prisoner's, the fight of the individual to be individual. the oppression of society and all that entails, the growing surveillance into what England has become, the most watched society in the world! Man's progress demonstrated by the penny farthing bicycle, and how were are looked after, kept safe as in the canopy of the penny farthing bicycle. But more than that, I think Patrick McGoohan had something in his mind that even as a chils was a puzzlement, and as an adult McGoohan was not only creating a personal statement with the Prisoner, but was also using his creation to rid his mind of something, something which had become a torment for him. something dark and dangerous, fierce and fatal, strange and sinister. Something of the like which dwells in the dark recesses of the mind

Be seeing you

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