Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Whole Damn Thing--THE PRISONER--Episode 3

Continuing our continuing (until we get to Episode 17 anyways) run-through of The Prisoner, tonight, we submit the following for your approval:

Episode 3--"A. B. and C."


This is one of my favourite episodes, I must confess. First of all, it's great to see No. 6 not being an asshole to everyone and anyone (of the many things one can say about The Prisoner, it must be admitted that No. 6 is not the world's most sympathetic protagonist. In fact, at times, he can be a real cock) but it's got this cool "first act of a James Bond movie" deal going through it, it's our first glimpse of The Village's soon-to-be-standard approach of "Oh let's just drug him and hook him up to the machine that goes ping" mad science which is emblematic of the series.

Oh yeah, and this is the first time No. 6 gets to win, which is infrequent and also pretty damn cool.

It all begins with No. 2 getting a call from No. 1 on the Big Red Phone (seriously, that thing is ridiculous) that he damn well better get on the stick re: figuring out why No. 6 resigned. No. 2 sells this well by getting a look of pants-wetting terror and muttering "Yes, I know my future's at stake" and we're off to the races.

No. 6 is drugged and thanks to various spools of tape, electrodes, and the aforementioned machine that goes "ping," is transported through the magic of 1960s-era virtual reality to a party in Paris. No. 2's belief is that No. 6 resigned because he was planning to sell out, and has boiled the possible buyers down to three possibilities--the aforementioned A, B, and C. Over three nights No. 6 will meet each one in turn, and hopefully, the answer will be found.

"A" is a former ally/current defector with an effete manner and the kind of mustache that probably seemed like an excellent idea in the days of the Kaiserreich. He and No. 6 trade those casual but underlaid with menace barbs that always happen at the beginning of every Bond movie you've ever seen, then "A" takes him away from the party in a car for a location shot and a fist fight, as one tends to do.

A word about fistfights in The Prisoner, for a moment, as there will be a lot of them in the coming episodes. They're not terribly good (which is odd, as Partick McGoohan was actually supposed to be a fairly accomplished boxer, I believe) full of quick cuts, obvious misses, and sudden onset brass-heavy music that is supposed to let us know that this is an ACTION! scene. They are silly, they are dodgy, and they are absolutely hilarious and I clap like a seal whenever one breaks out in a Prisoner episode.

"B" is your average "spy from a non-existent but, judging from her accent, foreign country." She and No. 6 have some history and exchange pleasantries, however this is all happening a bit too slow for No. 2, so they try putting words in B's mouth (via more science that's probably more than a bit suspect) but No. 6 twigs to what's going on immediately and knows things are Very Wrong Indeed.

This feeling of wrongness (plus the ever-increasing track-marks on his wrist) make him think something's up, and, finding the lab where they've been ABC-ing him, decides to turn the tables just in time for him to meet "C." I won't spoil it for you (y'know, for a change), but suffice it to say it involves the music getting louder, "Batman" camera angles and the most elliptical way possible for No. 6 to turn the tables you could possibly imagine . . .if you spent a lot of time wondering how you were going to get back at the people who'd doped you up and strapped you to a table for the third night running.

"A. B. and C." is a great episode, really, as you get little smatterings of everything The Prisoner is about in one delicious packages--there's some standard spy stuff, a little surrealism, mad science, snappy dialogue--it all works very well. In fact, if I were going to "sell" someone on The Prisoner, this would be the episode I'd use, I think. This is the first episode in the run that feels more like how the creators of the show wanted things to go.

That's all for this time. Next time, No. 6 runs for office, and a wicked satire on politics and elections takes a hard right turn into weird surrealism, people worship a glowing Rover, and No. 6 yells and sweats a lot. Cast your vote here for "Free For All"

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