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Saturday, 10 January 2015

Hammer Into Anvil

   ‘Hammer into Anvil’ is one of the simplest as well as being the most straightforward of the 17 episodes of ‘the Prisoner. It consists of one single story, with no sub-plots, and never once deviates from its clinical path. There is no attempt of escape. No resistance, or revolt. After Number 73 has been driven to her death by a sadistic Number 2, although 73 doesn’t actually leap out of her hospital bed, and to her death through the open window until Number 6 comes bursting into the room! After that the episode becomes rather like ‘Once Upon A Time,’ basically a two-hander between Number 2 and Number 6, with Number 2 aided by Number 14 instead of the Butler! 
    Number 6 is like a knight in shining armour, seeking to revenge the death of a damsel who had been in distress, it is an act of chivalry on his part. And it is a story which is just about as far away as any storyline can get from the central concept of ‘the Prisoner.’ Basically ‘Hammer Into Anvil’ is one of what are called “filler” episodes, another is ‘It’s Your Funeral,’ and ‘A Change of Mind,’ however the use of the term “filler episode” does not malign these three episodes. We revel in the episode as Number 6 weaves a web of intrigue through his acts of jamming {although we do not get to know about jamming until the following episode} as he sets about driving Number 2 to the edge of madness! As for Number 2, his paranoia, and mistrust of anyone, even of his assistant Number 14, is his own downfall. And it could be said that this particular Number 2 is simply the most nasty, bad, and disagreeable man who ever held the position.
   Of course we the viewer immediately recognise Number 2, we’ve seen him before, so its not difficult, fictionally speaking, to associate him with Thorpe of British Intelligence in ‘Many Happy Returns.’ However when Number 6 meets with Number 2, this well trained and intelligence agent fails to recognise Number 2 as Thorpe, as clearly he would have remembered him. And yet we must remember that there is much that takes place between the episodes that we are not privy to. After all any Number 2 is not simply plucked from thin air and deposited in The Village for the beginning of each episode. And Number 2 of ‘Hammer Into Anvil’ is no different, he has clearly been in The Village for some time if the Tally Ho newspaper article headed “Increase Vigilance Call From No.2” is anything to go by. What’s more he has clearly been dealing with Number 73’ case during that time. So it might be that, and again fictionally speaking, Number 6 and Thorpe as Number 2 had already made their re-acquaintance before the start of ‘Hammer Into Anvil.’ Therefore there would have been no need for recognition on either the part of Number 6 or Number 2 during the actual episode. What’s more there was no recognition between Number 6 and Thorpe when he was in the company of the Colonel, having returned to London in ‘Many Happy Returns,’ suggesting they had never met before. Of course every episode is a different story, and so in this respect ‘the Prisoner’ is much like Shakespeare’s ‘Seven Ages of Man.’ “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players, They have their exits and entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts.” And yet Number 6 had no problem in recognising the Colonel, he even calls him by name, “James” who later told Thorpe that Number 6 is an old, old friend who never gives up. Unless of course the Colonel was meaning that Number 6 is an old, old friend of The Village who never gives up!

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