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Sunday, 30 November 2014

The General

   Number 6 once made a deal with Number 2. For in exchange for the Girl Nadia, he said he would settle down, join in, and he might even do some woodwork for him! Such was the deal. And here in ‘The General’ there is the possibility of another deal. Number 2 asks Number 6 if he’s still as keen as ever to leave them. He further suggests that a compromise could be done in exchange for the Professor’s recorder. But Number 6 knows that the offered deal hasn’t got the legs to run. And queries Number 2 as to who has it? Because Number 6 is committed to a course of action that excludes the possibility for escape, once he has heard the full extent of the Professor’s message and comprehends its meaning, he sets himself against both the General and Speedlearn. He believes that Speedlearn is to be resisted as an intrusion into people's minds.
   This is the first episode in which Number 6 has a genuine ally, Number 12 of Administration. Number 6 is prepared to work with 12, not that he trusts him completely, Number 6 trusts only himself, and yet Number 12 says much the same. They seem to be members of an exclusive club, in that they are both committed to resisting Speedlearn. And yet 12 appears to be one step ahead of 6 in understanding how Speedlearn works.
    “What was the treaty of Adrianople?
    “September eighteen twenty nine.” Number 6 replies.
    “Wrong. I said what not when. You need some special coaching.”
    Number 6 may have the desire to bring Speedlearn down and the General with it. But it is Number 12 who provides Number 6 with the capability, and access to do it. The Professor’s real lecture micro reduced, and two security pass discs. Now he is in a position to at least wreck the educational experiment of Speedlearn.
   It has been said that ‘The General’ is not without holes, one of those holes being when Number 6 manages to infiltrate the Town Hall dressed in black suit, overcoat, tie, top hat, and dark glasses. How does Number 6 know what to wear? Although it is clear that Number 12 furnished Number 6 with a micro reduced lecture of the Professor’s, along with the two security pass discs. Where did Number 6 get the suit of clothes from? Well that’s not a hole in the storyline, in fact it couldn’t be more simple to understand. All it takes is an ounce of imagination. It was when he reported to Number 12’s office in Administration the next morning, that Number 6 would have been supplied with the set of clothes worn by Top Hat officials of Administration, by Number 12 in the morning of the following day!
    The fact that Number 6 was able to destroy the General was a bonus, derived from the desire to maintain Number 12’s anonymity against Number 2, who was close to discovering that it was 12 who provided Number 6 with two security pass discs. In fact it was very ingenious and quick witted on Number 6’s part to come up with such an apparent question which was insoluble to both man and machine, yet only because the General wasn’t programmed with the basic facts concerning WHY?
    Number 12 was desperate to save the Professor’s life. He wanted Speedlearn stopped, was happy with the destruction of the General, but he seemed to draw the line at the Professor’s death. It could be said, and this calls into question Number 12’s final action in attempting to save the Professor, that with the Professor Speedlearn could have carried on. That if it was the Professor who built the supercomputer called the General, he could build another. But then so could any anyone involved in computer science, just as long as they had the plans. And its not only computers which are replaceable, so too are kindly Professors
   The only hole in ‘The General’s’ storyline as far as I can see, appears in the opening at the café. This is when students taking the three part history course are requested by an announcer, over the public address system, to return to their dwellings immediately, in time for the Professor’s next lecture. Number 6 appears to be completely unaware of what is gong on until that moment. In fact on the face of it, this is nothing more than a contrivance which gives the opportunity to explain to the television viewer what is taking place! It is illogical to think that Number 6 could be in The Village and not know about Speedlearn, when every citizen/student would be talking about the exams they have been taking {do students of Speedlearn have to take exams?}, certainly they would be talking about the lectures. But perhaps Number 6 has been out of circulation for a while, fictionally speaking that would explain Number 6’s lack of knowledge when it comes to Speedlearn. After all there is much which takes place in The Village {between the episodes} to which the viewer is not privy!
  The Magic Box which accepts security pass discs, basically it is a money box, a Japanese produced toy of the period. When a coin is put in the slot, the mechanism is activated, and a little hand comes out of the box, collects the coin and disappears back into the box, along with the coin. The "Magic Box" was adapted at once, and made part of the security system in the Town Hall, to collect "Security Pass Discs." It has been written that this money box toy was instigated as a prop by Patrick McGoohan himself. The fact that the toy is cute cannot be denied. In fact so much emphasis is placed on the device, that it appears in close-up twice in the same scene of the episode. I myself happen to have one of those “magic money” boxes, exact to the one used in the episode. The Prisoner in the guise of Number 56 has to tap the Security Pass disc a second time in order to make the gadget work. That is absolutely correct, as I have to do just the same in order to make mine work!

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