Number Two appears, looking determined, in the Chair, but does not speak the responses.
We open with a shot of a Village street, then cut to the Hospital. Inside, Number Seventy Three, an attractive young woman with bandaged wrists, is lying in bed, being questioned by a sympathetic but somewhat creepy voice that we soon learn belongs to Number Two. He is a strong-faced but somehow weak man, his hair thinning on top and worn longer and brushed luxuriantly above his ears.
He questions Number Seventy-Three about the whereabouts of her husband, but she denies any knowing knowledge. The questioning disturbs her, even before Number Two suggests her husband is being unfaithful to her. She denies that violently, but he coldly produces a photo, showing her husband with a woman named Maryka. Though we do not see it ourselves, it is clearly compromising. Number Seventy Three shrinks away, screwing her eyes up against seeing it.
Suddenly, he rounds on her, shouting brutally about her wasting his time. She begins to scream.
Number Six, out walking, hears the scream. He runs towards the Hospital, races upstairs and, despite the attempts of two orderlies to stop him, forces his way into the room. Number Seventy-Three is still shrinking away, screaming, with Number Two bending over her. Number Six’s appearance distracts him, and the woman takes the opportunity to jump out of bed, cross the room and throw herself through the open window. When Number Six looks down, she is sprawled full-length, dead.
Coldly, Number Two tells Number Six that he should not have interfered, and he will pay for this. No, replies Number Six with cold anger, you will.
Number Six is pacing backwards and forwards at home when Number Two telephones, summoning him. Number Six replies that he has nothing to say to the man, puts the phone down and goes out for a walk.
He is on a country lane when a jeep, driven by Number Two’s assistant, Number Fourteen, catches him up. Three Guardians are dropped off, and although Number Six gives a good account of himself, he is overpowered, dragged into the jeep and taken to Number Two’s office.
Number Two is angry at the disregard of his orders. He intends to break Number Six, and is contemptuous of his predecessors’ failure to do so. They were amateurs: he is a professional. Number Six is quietly mocking. In response, Number Two shrugs the end from his shooting stick, revealing a sword blade. Number Six sits unconcerned as Number Two holds the blade close to his eyes, and then presses it against his forehead. He states that he feels disgust, looking at Number two.
Number Two resheathes his shooting stick, saying “Du musst Amboss oder Hammer sein”. Number Six recognises this as a quote from Goethe, “You must anvil or hammer be”. Number Two sees him as the anvil, to be hammered.
Suddenly, the big red phone rings. Number Two’s manner changes. He is tense in his exchanges with Number One, assuring him everything is under control, that he does not need assistance. Number Six notes this with a small smile.
After the call finishes, Number Two orders him out. As he leaves, Number Two roars at him that he will break him. He then orders special surveillance on Number Six.
Number Six’s first act is to go to the store. There is a sign in the window extolling music, and confirming new records are in. He buys a ‘Tally Ho’, showing the new Number Two in determined pose on the front, and asks to listen to Bizet’s L’Arlessienne Suite: there are six copies and he asks for all of them. The shopkeeper watches curiously as he plays a few seconds of the Farandole, checking his watch, before changing the disc. At the third copy, he lets the disc run longer and makes notes on a piece of paper. He then returns all the discs to the shopkeeper, giving his opinion that it is not a satisfactory recording. He leaves behind his ‘Tally Ho’, having circled the word security, and added a question mark.
The shopkeeper immediately takes all the discs and the paper to Number Two, with Number Six watching from around the corner in satisfaction.
No difference can be found between any of the discs or their sleeves. Number Two is puzzled.
Back at his cottage, Number Six writes a note, pockets it and leaves. He does not go far, watching as Number Fourteen enters his cottage. He takes the next sheet from the pad, Number Six having deliberately pressed hard enough to leave an impression. He delivers this to Number Two, and is surprised to be sent away before the note is deciphered. It reads, “To X.O.4 ref your query via Bizet record. No. 2’s instability confirmed. Detailed Report follows. D.6”. Number Two looks aghast: is Number Six a plant?
In the evening, he and Number Fourteen follow the Prisoner down to the stone boat, where he leaves an envelope. They retrieve this but it only contains three blank sheets of paper. When tested, they are nothing more. Number Two’s frustration leads him to suggest the technician is keeping things from him, that he is working with Number Six.
The Prisoner intensifies his campaign the following day. Firstly he places a personal ad in the ‘Tally Ho’, a Cervantes quote, from Don Quixote: “Hay mas aml en el aldea que se suena.” He then telephones the Head of Psychiatry, enquiring about progress on the report on Number Two. The Head is utterly baffled, which Number Six pretends to take as caution. Almost immediately, the Head is summonsed to Number Two’s office, where the latter is growing steadily enraged. He sarcastically assumes the Head knows nothing, is mystified. He is plainly disbelieving and showing signs of paranoia and loss of control. When the Head advises him to stay calm, Number Two rounds on him, demanding to know if the Head wants to sit in this (i.e. Number Two’s) Chair?
Next, Number Six pauses at the bandstand, making a request to the Bandmaster. As the band strike up the Farandole, he walks away. Naturally, the bandmaster is the next to be summoned to Number Two’s office and questioned about his suspicious behaviour and his part in this conspiracy.
Meanwhile, Number Six has gone to the Cemetery. Lilies have been placed on Number Seventy Three’s grave, her stone marked only by her Number. As he leaves, he notes the number of a nearby grave, 113. He writes a request card which, later on, is read by the Control Room Supervisor, DJ fashion, prior to resuming music broadcasts. It is a greeting to Number Six on his birthday from his friend Number 113. Number Two, reacting in fury, hastily consults two folders, before storming into the Control Room and confronting the shocked and fearful Supervisor. It is NOT Number Six’s birthday, and there is no 113. He accuses the Supervisor of working with Number Six, and dismisses him. As Number Fourteen leads the Supervisor away, Number Two promotes his assistant He warns the man, and the whole room, to avoid Number Six. Then, unable to control his temper, he bursts out shouting “I’ll break this conspiracy!”
Back in his Office, Number Fourteen shows him the ad in the ‘Tally Ho’, translating it as “There is more harm in the Village than is dreamt of.”
Number Fourteen is growing concerned for his boss. He wants to eliminate Number Six, end this campaign. Number Two demurs: the man has been sent by their masters. However, he is further provoked when Number Six turns up, pretending to have been summoned by phone by Number Two himself. Blandly, Number Six suggests Number Two is being impersonated. As Number Two leaves, he tells Number Fourteen he doesn’t need him, with a sidelong glance at Number Six.
The two men size each other up. Number Fourteen is free in his hatred for Number Six and his desire to take him down a peg or two. Number Six suggests kosho. This is an unusual combat game, involving two trampolines bracketing a waterbath, with a three-sided angled walkway. The two men have a short fight, in which it is clear both are eager to attack the other, but the game is interrupted by the next combatants before anything can happen.
On his way back, Number Six observes some pigeons. At the shop, he buys a small notebook and a cuckoo clock. He uses the box from the clock to construct a makeshift pigeon trap, using a half-eaten sandwich, which duly catches a bird. meanwhile, he delivers the clock itself to Number Two’s door. The latter panics, assuming it is a bomb. The Bomb Squad gingerly retrieve and dismantle it: it is a cuckoo clock. They too are looking askance at Number Two.
Meanwhile, Number Six gently carries the bird up into the woods. He tapes a message to its leg and releases it. The Control Room, on edge, tracks the bird and prepares to shoot it down, but Number Two intervenes to have the bird intercepted. The message it carries reads, “Vital message tomorrow 06.00 hours by visual signal.”
The next morning, the Prisoner gets up early and goes out on the beach. He uses a handmirror to flash a message in Morse. Much to the consternation of Number Two, the Control Room cannot detect a receiver: no-one in the hills, at sea, in the air – not even any submarines. The operator who records the message is reluctant to read it out: it is the nursery rhyme, “Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, bakers man”.
Number Two sends the message to the cypher experts. It translates as Pat-a-Cake.
Returning via the café, Number Six sees Number Fourteen having coffee. He approaches the assistant, starts whispering to him about how badly he has been sleeping. Number Fourteen is mystified. Then Number Six tells him the waiter is watching them, and, speaking out loud, says how glad he is that Number Fourteen agrees. He walks away.
By the time Number Fourteen reaches Number Two’s office, the latter knows of the meeting. Number Fourteen professes his innocence, but Number Two’s paranoia has reached his height. He strikes Number Fourteen, accuses him of betrayal, dismisses him. In his ranting, he also accuses the silent Butler of being in on it and dismisses him too.
At this cottage, Number Six is listening to L’Arlessienne in full. Number Fourteen enters and starts a fight. The two have a dragged out fight that overturns everything but the record player, ending with Number Six throwing Number Fourteen through the window, just as Number Seventy Three ended her own life.
Sensing this is the time to apply the coup de gr?ce, Number Six goes to Number Two’s office. He finds him alone, cowering behind the Penny Farthing, but still initially defiant. He claims to know who Number Six is, to have seen through him since the start. Humouring him, Number Six accepts the premise that he is D.6, sent to test Village security. If that were so, what should a loyal agent have done. Number Two sees the final element of the trap he has dug for himself. Who are you working for? demands the Prisoner.
Number Two begins to whimper, claiming Number Six has destroyed him. But he has destroyed himself, through his fear of his superiors. Number Two pleads with Number Six not to report him. Number Six will not do so. Instead, Number Two will report himself.
Pulling himself together into a semblance of calm, Number Two picks up the big red phone. He reports a breakdown in command, Number Two needing to be replaced. Yes, he admits, this is Number Two.
Number Six leaves quietly as the broken man subsides into weeping.