It is a familiar, but somewhat irritated Number 2, who is brought back in another attempt to discover the secret of the Prisoner’s resignation. But even when Number 6 actually tells Number 2 the reason behind his resignation, Number 2 still isn't satisfied, he doesn't seem to understand that he has been told.
Number 2 is in an irritable state of mind, he bellows at his ever faithful butler, and goes without sleep when he spends the night in Number 6's cottage reciting children’s nursery rhymes to him as part of Number 6's regression, back to his childhood. This irritated state of mind together with the lack of sleep must surely put the boy Prisoner in a 'one-up' situation in the enclosed confinement of the Embryo Room right from the start.
With Shakespeare's seven ages of man, from the cradle to the grave, Number 2 takes Number 6 through his life. From childhood, to second childishness and possibly the grave, in Number 2's death. Well that is how many see the end to Number 2, as being dead. This because Number 2 is addressed by the President during his trial of ‘Fall Out,’ as being. "There have to be some security secrets that are kept from a......late Number 2." But 'late' need not mean that Number 2 had actually died. Although the President gave the order to resuscitate. By “late” he could have meant that Number 2 was late in arriving for the proceedings!
It may be thought that Number 2 was looking for a quick result, locked away in that Embryo Room with Number 6 and the Butler. After all Number 6, while still in his childhood state of mind, had only just graduated from school, when Number 2, as the boy’s Headmaster, jumped the gun by asking the pupil why he resigned. The pupil answered with "From what sir?" Of course the boy could not answer, he hadn't done anything as yet!
But all this is known, previously documented in the synopsis of the episode in at least two Prisoner based books. What interests me, as it does between all the episodes of ‘the Prisoner,’ as it does here with ‘Once Upon A Time,’ is not so much what we see, as what we do not see. As in the photograph below taken during, either the episode itself or at least its production.
I find thinking about ‘the Prisoner’ in this way is helping me develop a new concept about the series. It can be fun trying to fill in the blanks so to speak. Just because by the end of ‘The General’ the Professor is dead, Number 2 defeated with the General gone up in smoke, does not mean that that was the end of the experiment. And of course there had to be a time when the General was brought to The Village, as well as the Professor and his wife in connection with the 'Speedlearn' experiment. The way in which the episodes of the Prisoner present things, it is almost as though it all just happens, the instant arrival of the Professor and his wife together with the General. After all as Number 6 sits outside the cafe there is an announcement through the public address system;
"Attention. This is an announcement from the General's department. Will all students taking the Three Part History course, please return to their dwellings immediately. The Professor will be lecturing in approximately thirty minutes. I will repeat that. This is an announcement from the General's department. Will all students taking the Three Part History course, please return to their dwellings immediately. The Professor will be lecturing in approximately thirty minutes."
This certainly gives the impression that 'Speedlearn' courses have been going for some considerable time between the end of the episode of ‘The Schizoid Man’ and ‘The General’ itself. It’s all to do with the lapse of time that takes place between episodes.
Be seeing you