It has been supposed that this episode concerns itself with demonstrating that no matter where Number Six goes, he can never evade the long reach of The Village. Meaning that there is nowhere he can go, where he cannot be found, retrieved from, and returned to The Village. The retiring Number 2 of ‘It’s Your Funeral’ realised that much.
Well that's as maybe. Yet I now feel there is much more to this
episode of the Prisoner's incarceration than that. ‘Many Happy Returns’ gives a
false freedom to the Prisoner. His is the torture of escape only to be
recaptured and returned to the confines of the village, to continue his
incarceration, after being given a glimpse of his world, and to move in it as
he had once done. To find someone living in his home, owning his beloved car, which
he built with his own hands, and then to have that world suddenly snatched away
from him again.
For his captors, there is the pleasure of control, the
manipulation of the Prisoner, in watching him build his sea-going raft. To
gather his provisions, and finally to escape The Village, must surely have been
most amusing, knowing that he could be returned at their will. And don't forget
the smashing of the cup and saucer on the table. That was a torture in itself,
in making the Prisoner suddenly think that he had gone to so much trouble,
effort, and hard work, only for the game to be up. But at the same time giving
the Prisoner renewed hope, in that the game was far from up, and that he had a
chance of escape.
The pleasure for the captors of the Prisoner was not just in the
control they exerted over him, but also in the hunt, and recapture of the
Prisoner, and thereby returning him to The Village, so that they could continue
with their manipulation of him, in other and more fascinating ways.
In short, allow the prisoner to
escape. Let him run, give him enough rope to think he has escaped. Allow him to
feel free. Then bring him back to the prison, and find new and imaginative ways
to torture him! This learned from the John Rhys Davies 1996 film “Marquis De
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