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Saturday 14 December 2019

Watching The Prisoner – Dance of The Dead

   Following my screening order of ‘the Prisoner’ which takes place over 15 months, over two months have now passed since No.6’s arrival in the village, and during the month following ‘Free For All’ and prior to ‘Dance of The Dead’ democracy has been dispensed with. Hence one of the black ballot boxes having found a new use in No.6’s kitchen……. as a waste bin!
    Number 2 has attempted to fix him up with a date with one of three attractive girls. No.6 discovered a dead body, which I believe to be No.34, on the beach, a radio in the dead man’s pocket, and attempted to get a message to someone, anyone in the outside world, and met with an old colleague Roland Walter Dutton. Dutton tells No.6 that he’s been in the village a couple of months, if he’s right then his arrival was only a few days after No.6 arrived. But where has Dutton been all that time? He told No.6 that he had been released for 72 hours {it’s strange how things take place over three days in the village} to reconsider in the peaceful atmosphere of the village. Presumably Dutton has a cottage, but had been held prisoner at the hospital while the doctor-No.40 carried out his experiments on Dutton as he extracted all the information he had. At this point we remember Cobb lying in a bed in the hospital, where No.6 encountered Cobb, apparently having undergone interrogation at the hands of a doctor. Presumably it was much the same for Roland Walter Dutton, except he talked, and told them everything he knew. The only thing we can be sure about Cobb is that he was allowed to leave the village, whereas Dutton no doubt spent the rest of his life in the village dependent on Health and Welfare to look after him, as he obviously was unable to look after himself once the doctor had finished with him!
   Clearly ‘Dance of The Dead’ is about more than Roland Walter Dutton. It’s also the only episode which gives the impression of being female orientated. For the first time No.6 hears word from the outside world, but from someone who appears to have problems of their own.
  “Nowhere is there more beauty than here. Tonight when the moon rises, the whole world will turn to silver. Do you understand, it is important you understand. I have a message for you, you must listen, the appointment cannot be fulfilled. Other things must be done tonight. If our torment is to end, if liberty is to be restored we must grasp the nettle even though it makes our hands bleed. Only through pain can tomorrow be assured.”
    The question is, where is that radio message being transmitted from? Because I am convinced the voice reading that message over the radio is actor Eric Portman-No.2 from ‘Free For All.’ I am also sure that the message was meant for No.34, the dead man found on the beach.
    A number of episodes have a theme running through them. The theme for this episode is clearly death. The death of No.34, No.6 is sentenced to death, and once the body of 34 has been amended, No.6 will lie dead in that little room. And not before too long, he’ll be dead to the rest of the world as well, which appears to have its advantages. Dutton is left brain dead, and no doubt is left to a living death. The original script has a scene in which No.240 and No.6 return to the ballroom leaving No.2 amid the wiring and paper ripped out of the tele-printer by No.6. There is a hectic dance in full swing in the ballroom; No.6 asks 240 “Shall we dance?” Elizabeth the 1st, Julius Ceaser, and Napoleon are dancing in a ring which is broken to allow 240 and No.6 to join in. Hands join to the quick music. They dance as if the devil is playing, continuing the music faster and faster. Seeing as this episode is all about death, what more fitting an end then than a dance of death, which is documented in my book ‘The Prisoner Dusted Down.’  
    ‘Dance of The Dead’ is obviously a reasonably early episode on the simple grounds that No.6 states “I’m new here.” Also I wanted to put the four episodes filmed partially at Portmeirion first in the series. Whatever happened to that body of No.34 in the mortuary is anyone’s guess. It was supposed to have been amended to turn up in the sea somewhere, so that it’s No.6 who died in an accident at sea. However either the body was washed away at sea, or was never put in the sea in the first place. Because when No.6 finally returns to London in {according to my screening order} ‘Many Happy Returns’ neither the bureaucrat in the office, nor Colonel James or Thorpe appear to know that No.6 is supposed to be dead! But then it’s the same in the television and
DVD screening order in which ‘Dance of The Dead’ precedes ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’ by several months when ZM73 returns to London. Janet Portland, Danvers, PR12 or Sir Charles Portland, none of whom are aware that ZM73 is supposed to be dead!

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