What is The Prisoner? Perhaps the
best television series ever made. It contains only 17 episodes,
yet it has more meaning than most series that run for years. Here
is my guide to the episodes, followed by some links to other
Prisoner sites. I do not provide ratings for the episodes,
because every episode (except #15) would be "A". But I
have classified them by codes.
|1||Arrival||E||Scene set for rest of series|
|2||The Chimes of Big Ben||E||No. 6 builds a raft, with the help of Nadia, thinking they have escaped to London.|
|3||A., B., and C.||SF, TT||No. 6’s dreams are manipulated to see if he will reveal information to persons known as A, B, and C.|
|4||Free for All||E||No. 6 runs in a sham election for the position of No. 2|
|5||Schizoid Man||TT, E||A double is brought in for No.6, and the real No. 6 is manipulated to believe he is No. 12.|
|6||The General||TT, SF||A crash learning course is being given by a super-computer.|
|7||Many Happy Returns||E||No. 6 awakens one day to find the village deserted. He makes his way back to London, to find his apartment is occupied. His old associates help him find the Village, but someone betrays him and deposits him there, and he resumes his life as the Prisoner.|
|8||Dance of the Dead||Ψ, E||The most bizarre episode. No. 6 is being tortured by a doctor. No. 2 stops the torture. He is invited to a carnival. He is assigned a female observer. He and a friend, Dutton, plan an escape. No. 6 finds a transistor radio and takes it to the top of the observation tower, but he is seen by his observer. Later, he meets Dutton in a cave at the beach. Dutton has apparently been tortured, and has revealed all he knows, and feels he is expendable. At the carnival, everyone appears in fancy dress, No. 2 as Peter Pan, his observer as Bo Peep, but No. 6 is assigned his costume: a tuxedo. He is put on trial and sentenced to death, for possessing a transistor radio.|
|9||Do Not Forsake Me, O My Darling||TT, SF||A scientist, Dr Seltzman, has found a way to transfer the mind of one man into the body of another. The Village authorities have stolen the technique, but need Dr Seltzman. They transfer No. 6’s mind to the body of The Colonel. They send him to London in that form. He meets his fiancée, Janet, who has a receipt for some film. He convinces her of who he is, gets the film, and discovers where Dr Seltzman is. But he is followed. They return him and Dr Seltzman to the Village. Dr Seltzman connects electrodes to himself, No. 6, and the Colonel. At the end, Dr Seltzman collapses. The Colonel is allowed to leave. But Dr Selzman has traded bodies with the Colonel, and can continue his work in peace.|
|10||It’s Your Funeral||TT||When the old No. 2 retires, there is a plot to have him assassinated. No. 6 foils the plot, so that innocent villagers are not blamed and punished.|
|11||Checkmate||E||No. 6 is the Queen’s Pawn in a life-size chessboard. He and "the Rook" plan an escape. No. 6 has shown how to tell the prisoners from the wardens by speaking with authority. In the event, the plan to escape fails, because the Rook assumed No. 6 was a warden, and turned him in.|
|12||Living in Harmony||Ψ||No. 6 is the sheriff in an Old West town.|
|13||A Change of Mind||TT||No. 6 is warned to conform, or he will be declared "unmutual" and lobotomized. He is shunned by the whole village. Then he is brought into the laboratory, and put through a procedure by No. 86, a woman scientist. He leaves, "cured". He was not lobotomized, but only drugged. He turns the tables on No. 86, and hypnotizes her. He tells No. 2 he will tell all, at a public ceremony. While he is speaking, the clock chimes, and No. 86 denounces No. 2 as "unmututal".|
|14||Hammer into Anvil||TT||My favorite episode! No. 6 sees No. 2
torturing a woman, and she jumps out a window.
No. 6 had tried to intervene, but too late. No. 2 warns him not to interfere, or he’ll pay.
"No, you will," says No. 6.
Later, No. 2 tells No. 6, "Du mußt . . . Amboß oder Hammer sein", quoting Goethe: "You must be anvil or hammer". Then No. 6 does all kinds of things to drive No. 2 crazy, including hiding cryptic messages, and planning fake escapes. He goes to the record store and asks for recordings of Bizet’s "L’Arlesienne Suite #1". There are six (of course!) copies. He listens to the opening measures of each, while checking his watch. Then he returns the recordings. (The story of L’Arlesienne is of a woman who drives a man mad.) He puts an ad in the Village paper that reads "Hay más daño en la aldea que se sueña": "There is more harm in the village than is dreamt", a quote from Cervantes’s Don Quixote. He sends a message by mirror and sun which reads only "Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake. . ." In the end, No. 2 breaks down, and is replaced.
|15||The Girl Who Was Death||TT||No. 6 is in a series of bizarre adventures. It turns out to be a children’s story.|
|16||Once Upon a Time||Ψ||No. 2 decides to break No. 6 using "degree absolute". In the end, No. 6 is victorious.|
|17||Fall Out||?||No. 6 is brought before a masked panel, presided over by a man in a judicial wig. All sorts of bizarre things happen, but No. 6 and No. 2 and the butler end up in London.|
| Explanation of
E = Escape attempt