Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Whole Damn Thing--THE PRISONER, Episode 7

When accepted this job, I was resigned to my fate. My fate is to recap the entire run of The Prisoner, in an epic race to the finish.

Episode 7--"Many Happy Returns"

"Anyone at home?"

"Many Happy Returns" is a weird, weird, episode. It's not as disorienting as some of the later episodes, not as trippy or psychedelic as the finale, but it's very . . .eerie. Maybe it's the beginning of the episode where No. 6 wakes up to a completely deserted and empty Village. No people, no water, no electricity, no nothing. After so many episodes of shiny happy prisoners wandering around in colourful cloaks and umbrellas it just seems . . .wrong, somehow.

No. 6, never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, decides to escape. He makes a raft and sails out to sea, beats up some gunrunning pirates, meets some gypsies and generally refuses to say a word for most of the first half-hour of the episode.

It's that eerie silence that most people remember about this episode--there's barely any dialogue in the first half-hour and what little there is isn't in English. It's only once No. 6 meets up with Mrs. Butterworth, the lady who owns his car and his old house, that he actually speaks, and from there it's a short run back to his erstwhile superiors, to convince them of the existence and the imminent threat of the Village.

You remember what happened last time he did this, don't you? Sure enough, No. 6 finds himself back in the Village, still completely deserted. It's only when he re-enters his cottage that all of a sudden everything comes back on and just in time for one of those climaxes so perfect that you smile, even though the bad guys won.

"Manny Happy Returns" is a great episode, not just because it ticks along with such perfect precision, not just because it has a great ending twist, but because it shows The Prisoner at its best--never afraid to kick over the table and completely upset the format. It's that willingness to do anything that makes this show so enduring ultimately. It's well worth watching.

Back in the Village, again in the Village. No. 6 finds a potential way to escape and an old comrade in arms, and runs up against one of the creepiest Nos. 2 in the entire run of the series and certainly one of the most complicated plots. Next episode--"Dance of the Dead."

There will be music, dancing, happiness . . .by order.

No comments: