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Monday 28 May 2018

The Therapy Zone

   I have been thinking about No.6, 51 years ago he was all alone in a big Ocean! He must have put to sea on his raft on February 21st to arrive back in London on March 18th. That in turn means he must have begun constructing the raft on either the 18th or 19th depending on how long he took to do it. Two or three days I should have thought, although there is no indication of this in the episode.
   Our friend No.6 is a resilient fellow, he’s been on his raft now for some 16 days, at the time I wrote this article, with a further 9 days to go. He slept 4 hours out of each 24, eating cold food out of tins, and cold water to drink. I wonder why he didn’t tether himself to the raft using a life-line? After all he is in the
Atlantic Ocean, and particularly when he has the Bay of Biscay to cross, a huge wave might so easily have washed him and his raft away! In the beginning he tries to maintain a certain state of hygiene, but that all soon goes by the board, and the lack of sleep must have been taking its toll.
   So when No.6 was asleep, if only for 4 hours, who was steering the raft? He had no automatic steering gear, so surely the first time No.6 slept for 4 hours he would have been carried miles off course by the tides and currents! When you think about it he was lucky to reach
London at all. If it had not been for the intervention of Ernst and Günter the two gunrunners, No.6 would surely have perished at sea. I don’t think they could have been making a great deal of money from this gunrunning caper, because they don’t seem to be doing that much better than No.6. Günter is eating cold baked beans straight from the tin. They also have tinned corned beef, and tinned pineapple chunks, all Village food of course. And we come to a question which seems insoluble for many an enthusiast for ‘the Prisoner,’ are those tins of Village food, No.6’s or their own? If their own it means they were agents working for The Village. If not then where did they get it if not from No.6’s raft? If they took the tinned food from No.6’s raft, which does seem most likely, why are they eating it, have they no food of their own? Mind you No.6 soon cooks up something in the Galley!
 Günter does look genuinely p***** off he missed when trying to shoot him with his pistol at the end of the sequence! But then I thought if Ernst and Günter really wanted to kill No. 6, they could have gone after him as he swam away, ramming him with their motor cruiser. The body of No.6 mutilated by the vessel’s propeller as it passed over the body, just a thought.
   So what is ‘Many Happy Returns’ all about? On the face of it, it appears to be an episode which strengthens the idea that there is no escape from The Village, and no matter where No.6 goes he can be brought back. But No.6 did make that easy for them. Perhaps No.6 was put to the test, a test or ordeal he does not fail. Upon discovering The Village to be deserted, he immediately sets about constructing a sea-going raft. He takes photographic evidence, and sets sail on a dangerous sea voyage. As well as pitting himself against the elements, he has to fight off two dangerous gun-runners. Swim a number of miles, to be washed up on the beach at Beachy Head. Then he scales a chalky cliff, and after being given refreshment by a young gypsy woman, he’s set on his way again. Avoiding a police road block, he jumps into the back of a moving Luton van. Later he hears a police siren, and it seems instinctive, that he leaps out of the back of that Luton van into the path of traffic in Park Lane London. Eventually he arrives back at his home in Buckingham Place, only to find someone else living there, Not only that, but in possession of his Lotus Seven! All of which No.6 takes in his stride.
and yet he could be back in The Village, so he looks for reassurances. The dialling tone of the telephone, the view outside, the patch of dry rot that was made good about 6 months ago, not to mention the hot and cold taps of the shower which had been put on the wrong way round. Later meets with the Colonel and Thorpe, and manages to convince them enough to have his story checked out. The final part of the test is for Number 6 to find his way back to The Village, which he manages to do, not satisfied to have someone else make the search on his behalf. And finally he returns home to his room in The Village, well it’s the only place he can ever go, whether in The Village or in London. And there’s Mrs. Butterworth bringing him a cake in celebration of his happy return, isn’t he a lucky chap! Number 6 appears to have passed the tests with flying colours! The thing about this episode is, no sooner has No.6 discovered the Village deserted than he sets about his escape. And yet having finally escaped it’s almost as though he can’t wait to get back there!
     February and March have been busy times for No.6. First on the night of Feb 10th he was removed from his cottage and taken to the cottage of 12 Private as he’s put through mind conditioning therapy, and undergoes a physical make-over. That must have taken about four to six week’s, depending upon how long it took No.6 to grow his beard. But then in February on around the18th he woke up to find The Village deserted and made good his escape on Feb 21st! So while No.6 is undergoing the mind conditioning etcetera, he’s aboard his raft somewhere in the Atlantic. Work that one out? The problem must lie with the fact that two different scriptwriters were used for ‘The Schizoid Man’ and ‘Many Happy Returns.’ But there is it, it has never paid to scrutinize ‘the Prisoner’ too closely, and there are times when one simply has to ignore some things. In other words don’t think about it too much! Even if they had separated the two episodes by more then ‘The General,’ it would have made no difference, because both have to take place at around the same time simply because of the dates! To combat that some enthusiasts for ‘the Prisoner’ came up with the idea that there are two parallel Villages in which events take place at the same time. No, not even I subscribe to that idea, but each to their own I suppose, no matter how outlandish the idea!
   Mrs. Butterworth is unique for three reasons. Firstly she is the only No.2 to wear the “negative” badge against the usual “positive one. Also the number in this case is white rather than red! Secondly we have never known a No. 2’s name before, even if the name is false at least we can put a name to the face! And thirdly she is the only No.2 to be seen wearing non Village attire. The way she wears her own dress suggests she, like No.6 has only recently arrived in The Village, but long enough to bake him a cake. So why not long enough to change into Village costume? And the black cat which walks into No.6’s cottage with her, is the cat hers, or No.2’s of ‘Dance of The Dead’ as she claimed? I suppose seeing as ‘Dance of The Dead’ was supposed to have been the second episode when No.2 left she could have left the cat behind, just as Mrs. Butterworth will leave her housemaid Martha behind when she eventually leaves The Village. Martha who couldn’t go a day without her sweets, who No.6 recognized and feeling sorry for her, bought a bag of sweets in ‘It’s Your Funeral.’ Of course originally the script called for cigarettes, I wonder why it was changed to candy?  

Be seeing you

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