Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Whole Damn Thing--THE PRISONER--Episode 2

Continuing our review of the The Prisoner in it's entirety . . .

Episode 2--"The Chimes of Big Ben"

". . .but both sides are becoming identical. What in fact has been created is an international community--perfect blueprint for world order. When the sides facing each other suddenly realize that they're looking into a mirror, they will see that this is the pattern for the future."

We're still in standard spy-stuff territory here in terms of the plot. A new female spy--Nadia-- from the "other side" (or as we know it in the real world, Russia) comes to the Village, tries to escape, gets a rather savage psychological test (she's trapped in a room with alternate electrical current running through the floor that she can cross if she's confident enough) and, stirring No. 6's protective instincts (if not his romantic ones--one of the rules of The Prisoner is "no romance"--and the honey trap does not work on him, ever) offers him a big carrot--she knows where The Village is, and has formulated a means of escape.

No 6, for his part, has one as well, and finagles a way that his art project can provide the means to escape. And they seem to pull it off.

But do they really? (As there are 15 more episodes, well, use your own judgment)

The real meat of "Chimes" is less in the plot (of which one would recognise elements re-used from "Arrival") and more in the interaction between No. 6 and No. 2. Of course, good Nos. 2 will, you'll see, will see us through episodes that might not be up to snuff, plot-wise. This No. 2, as we'll see over the course of the series, is rather special, and Leo McKern's performance sells it wonderfully. By turns hammy and threatening, chummy and iron-fisted, it's fitting that this No. 2 delivers a rather intriguing line which will be echoed by his successors in later episodes, quoted here:
"That's why he'll break. He only needs one small thing. If he will answer one simple question, the rest will follow: why did he resign?"
We also learn something of 6's motivation in the following exchange:
"Do you still think you can escape, Number Six?"
"I'm going to do better than that."
"Going to escape, come back."
"Come back?"
"Escape, come back, wipe this place off the face of the Earth, obliterate it and you with it."
That's kind of what motivates his escape attempt and his subsequent tense (and rather hammy in places, thanks to "Commander McBragg" himself as the Colonel) negotiations with his former employers. Unfortunately, it seems once again that his employers may well be in on it, and given Nadia's point of origin, the "other side" may be as well, echoing the No. 2 quote from before. What does this mean for No. 6's desire to escape and destroy the Village? If he's unable to muster the allies necessary to destroy the Village from without, and no help is coming, what can he do?

Well, we'll learn more about how No. 6 will fight the Village from within next time, as the Village uses one of its trademark mad scientist attempts to break No. 6 Next Episode--"A. B. and C."

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