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Saturday 2 May 2015


    The 17th and final episode of ‘the Prisoner’ series. It was supposed to have given all the answers, and yet it answered nothing. I was twelve years of age at the time, and ‘Fall out’ was a complete and utter mystery to me. What was it? Whatever it was, it went and gone, and it was almost another ten years before I was able to see it again, and even then it was just as much a mystery. I hade no idea what Patrick meant by it. No idea that he called it an allegory. Oh I saw Number 6 confront Number 1, that they looked identical, but it would be years until the penny finally dropped that Number 1 and Number 6 are supposed to be the alter ego of each other. Other than that they found another doppelganger for Number 6.
   ‘Fall Out’ maybe the most complicated episode in the series, but it must be admitted that ‘Fall Out’ makes ‘the Prisoner’ what it is, lifting it clear of the accepted norm. And yet in regard to Number 1 ‘Fall Out’ can be a burden, because once you have seen the episode, you realise who Number 1 is, and that makes any possible argument as to who Number 1 is during the previous 16 episodes null and void!
   ‘Fall Out’ breaks the rules, it was groundbreaking at the time, and anything remotely normal is thrown out with the bathwater! And yet, one can look upon the episode as being a James Bond style of ending to ‘the Prisoner’ series. Number 6 finally escapes the confines of The Village, and appears to survive and returns to London. But does ZM73 survive, or is he still as much a prisoner at the end as he was at the beginning? Is ‘Fall Out’ the beginning? And that’s the thing about ‘Fall Out,’ it answers without answering anything because it withholds. We are left to make up our own minds.  
   The moment when Number 6 tears off the masks to reveal that Number 1 is himself, that he has been responsible for The Village, his own incarceration, torment and torture, is over in an instant. At the age of 12 it was difficult for me to comprehend, and there was no second chance of watching it again back in those days before the world went digital. Today the cliché is “We are our own worst enemy,” but not so in 1968. ‘Fall Out’ showed us that the enemy is within ourselves, something I wasn’t old enough to realise that at the time.
    ‘Fall Out’ is weird and wonderful, and still worthy of further analysis, and possible criticism. It is easily dismissed as nonsense, and was by many at the time of its premier screening here in Britain in 1968. Visually ‘Fall Out’ is exciting, its action packed. Number 6 and his confederates realise there is only one way out, to use good old fashioned brute force, and to shoot their way out! Is that what ‘Fall Out’ comes down to in the end, violence, guns, bullets, and the irony of a song “All You Need Is Love.” But as a series finale it left much in the air, and really it’s not an ending at all. That’s why it’s more likely to be the beginning, there had been a falling out. Number 6 discovered that he is responsible for The Village, so he went and resigned. Eventually two undertakers come for the Prisoner, and he’s abducted to The Village, a Village for which he is responsible, from which he resigned! ‘Fall Out’ is a strong link in what ‘the Prisoner’ is………………a vicious circle!

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