The Prisoner: Shattered Visage


I bought this when it first came out, four issues in the then new Prestige format, perhaps long enough ago that it was still being referred to as the Dark Knight format. I traded up for the graphic novel collection, getting it for free because the guy in the shop, a mate of mine, the kid who got me into writing for British comics fandom, hated the owner, and admitted that practically all of them did stuff like that from time to time, to fuck him over. I kept it for several years and then got rid of it, because despite being an Authorised Sequel, and Patrick McGoohan and Leo McKern consenting to the use of their likenesses, it simply wasn’t anywhere near good enough. When I was doing my series on The Prisoner some years ago, I referred to it under Other Media, feeding off twenty-odd year old memories. Now I’ve bought the collection again, cheap, in decent but not excessive condition, to refresh those recollections and write about it properly. One day, I may be able to afford the Marvel hardback collecting their two efforts to adapt episode one of the series.

Yes, I am a completist.

Shattered Visage is still not very good. In fact, it’s a mess on many levels, and it totally fails to get either the atmosphere or ethos of the series. Reading it, I wonder, given the intensity of his involvement with his ‘baby’, just what McGoohan saw in the project that led him to authorise it as an official sequel, because I’m hanged if I can see it.

The story is the work of writer/artist Dean Motter, a Canadian creator then noted for his serialised work, ‘The Sacred and the Profane’, with co-creator Ken Steacey, and then for creating and designing ‘Mister X’ (originally written and drawn by Los Bros Hernandez). Motter wrote the story with Mark Askwith, a Canadian television TV writer and producer, and drew the issues with colour by David Hornung and Richmond Lewis. The series first appeared in 1988-89, as issues A – D.

The set-up for the story is that twenty years have passed since the Village was liberated by the Americans and its inmates released. The Leo McKern Number Two was imprisoned for twenty years, the Village fell into disuse and was left empty, but for the former Number Six who, once free to go, elected to stay, and has remained there ever since. But Number Two is about to be released from prison. One of the conditions of his release has been that he was allowed to write his memoirs about the Village (‘The Village Idiot’), although apparently its relevance to the truth, after Britan’s Intelligence Services have been over it, is tangential at best. It is feared that Number Two intends to return to the Village for revenge. It is intimated that there are still secrets in the Village.

So: an interesting angle in that we’re not trying for another ‘lost’ episode effect. It’s a genuine sequel in that respect, but it’s also a possibly unconscious admission by Motter and Askwith that they couldn’t do a ‘lost’ episode, that they couldn’t begin to capture that wholly Sixties mixture of paranoia and holiday camp absurdity. Because they certainly can’t capture anything of the series in what they produced.

To begin with, they can only create their story by denying the original ending, reducing Number Six’s experiences to a drug-induced hallucination, a fantasy. Secondly, having him elect to stay in the Village once it’s liberated, may be superficially consistent with Number Six/Patrick McGoohan’s insistent upon the rights of the individual (My life is my own), but in practice it reduces the character to a contrarian, a figure without independent thought or opinion, merely a drive to do the opposite of everybody else.

But that’s before the story introduces its own characters and its contemporary view of espionage. The two most important figures are Alice and Thomas, the one a former spy for British Intelligence, the other still in the service, head of a small Department called Excavations, which seem to be a background operation. Alice and Thomas were married but are separated at Alice’s instigation, which seems to be linked to the reasons for her resignation. Alice has lost faith in what they do, affected by incidents that have happened to other agents: her reasons are only slightly more concrete than those of Number Six but seem to echo those he appeared to be about to expand upon in ‘The Chimes of Big Ben’. Late in the series, we will learn that Alice’s surname is Drake, but whether this is her married name, or whether she has reverted to her maiden name (something her character portrayal strongly suggests she would do) we are not told.

The story is deliberately unclear about everything it possibly can be, even more so than the series.

Thomas has edited Number Two’s book, having practically rewritten it for him, to eliminate active security issues, which appear to be manifold and include all sorts of modern issues. But he’s concerned about The Village, Number Two, an Agent who’s following him, the approval of his mentor, the now bedridden Mrs Butterworth, and the refusal of his superior, Colonel J, to officially support him. So Thomas ropes in a freewheeling American agent called Lee West (a steal from Joe Don Baker as Darius Jedburgh, in Edge of Darkness).

Alice meanwhile is celebrating her freedom by going on a solo voyage around the world in a super-yacht with all modern satellite system guidance. To do so, she has to put her tearful daughter Meagan (aged 8 or thereabouts) into the convent school that is Alice’s old alma mater, thereby making Meagan a prisoner. (She also gets her hair cut and swaps her elegant calf-length skirts for shorts and bikinis: Alice may be a strong, independent woman but she’s also eye-candy, at least so far as Motter’s art style permits). But Thomas distracts her long enough to enable Lee to mess with the guidance system, so that Alice’s course takes her past the Village.

That’s before the Hurricane that wrecks her boat, fries her guidance system and maroons her on the beach below the Village (now defined as being an island). Alice makes her be-shorted way through a dilapidated, boarded up, vegetation-shrouded Village, all the way to Number Two’s office (how does she know to go there?) where a heavily-bearded man sits in the Chair. He greets her, tells her she’s safe, and names her… (wait for it), Number Six.

The bearded man is our old friend, the original Number Six.

All of this so far has been set out in issue A. I’ve explained it in such detail because it’s been necessary to set up the premise of the story, and also because it’s a carefully-detailed, espionage oriented set-up. You can build a good story on what’s been laid out thus far, though little of it would have relevance to the series. But I shalln’t be going into anything like the same detail for the other three-quarters of the tale because from this point onwards, the story falls apart like wet tissue-paper.

Number Two turns up in the Village (how? Don’t ask stupid questions). He’s older, fatter, bearded as well (though not with either of the beards Leo McKern wore in the series) and has bad teeth. He’s being served by the Butler, although as poor Angelo Muscat wasn’t around to agree, the latter is only shown in shadow, with ratty hair and stooped shoulders. He’s there to provoke Number Six into a fight.

Not a psychological battle, a contest of minds trying to outdo each other, intelligence warring with intelligence and sharp dialogue, but a fist-fight. If ever the limitations of comics creators’ mentalities was exposed, it is here. Number Six beats Number Two up and shaves off his beard.

By now, the Village has been invaded by two military forces, an unofficial one led by Lee, with Thomas, that exposes the true secret behind the Village, the thing that it’s all been about since the very beginning: a nuclear missile. You know, the very thing that was fired during the ‘Fall Out’ episode that Motter and Askwith dismissed as wholly a drug-induced hallucination in order to tell their story becomes their big idea. It’s pathetically weak.

The other invading force doesn’t get anywhere. They’re sent by Thomas’s superior Ross, D.Ops (Director of Operations) to retrieve all information and people they find, but they find nothing because the beaten Number Two sets off the missiles without opening the silo doors, so the Village is destroyed, as it was when the missile was fired in ‘Fall Out’ that Motter and Askwith dismissed, etc., killing everyone in the Village but not necessarily the maverick Lee.

There are two codas to this conclusion. One involves a shift in authority in British Intelligence, involving a takeover by remote figures for whom, it appears, the seemingly detached Lee West was working: Ross is dismissed, gassed unconscious and removed in an undetaker’s hearse, presumably to The Village 2.0.

And Alice, who escaped with Number Six, is reunited with Meagan (whilst under surveillance), after a brief conversation with our erstwhile hero. She asks two questions which elicit two answers that sound clever but which, after the failure we’ve read, are functionally meaningless. In reverse order, to a question about how Number Six knows his secrets are still safe, he answers ‘None of us would still be here if they weren’t’, whilst to the $64 Million Dollar question of Who was Number One, actually? we get the gnomic response, ‘Does the presence of Number Two… necessarily require the existence of Number One?’ It’s cute, it has its appeal, it could actually be the basis for a serious story if you produce it early enough, but in context it’s as meaningless as everything else: just someone thinking that they’re being clever.

According to the Wikipedia entry, the story was ‘thoroughly evaluated’ by ITC Entretainment, and every page of Shattered Visage (title taken from Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’) and every issue was sent to Patrick McGoohan, who signed off on it but offered no feedback: the only thing Motter ever got back was, apparently, “He didn’t hate it.” Leo McKern sent a note to say how flattered he was to be a comic book villain for the first time. It’s a nice gesture, and I’m sure McKern was amused, but he did rather put his finger on it: Number Two is a comic book villain, with all the usual implications.

What of the art? Does this, in any way, make up for the inadequacies of the story? Unfortunately not: Motter’s art is sketchy and undetailed, his faces and figures awkward. He can catch enough of a likeness of McGoohan and McKern without being so simplistic as to topple into caricature, but his pages are open, lacking in detail, flat. There is no sense of depth to the panels, an effect muliplied by colouring that seems to be content with slapping wide expanses of plain, ungraduated pastels in sunshine, or muddy, lifeless shades in night conditions.

I’m torn over the decision to use treated photography for certain scenes, especially of the Village, and London, rather than have Motter draw these. Even with a deliberately degraded image, these scenes have too much detail to blend into Motter’s style, and the fact of their realness constantly drags the eye out of the story by reason of the contrast.

All in all, a pretty comprehensive failure, and called as such by most critics, especially among the especially fanatical fans, though the opinion is by no mean unanimous. In the end, the actual Village element seems like a sideshow beside the underlying story of power-shifts in British Intelligence. The twenty years on milieu, though an intelligence angle, proves to be determinedly anti-Prisoner-esque and the two worlds are too far separated to ever meet on their own terms.

At least they got it published.

Peter Wyngarde RIP


I remember Peter Wyngarde. Only in later life, much later life, did I see him in the ‘Hellfire club’ episode of The Avengers, with Diana Rigg in her fetish outfit (I would definitely have been regarded as too young for that episode), and though I would have seen him in his role as Number 2, in the ‘Checkmate’ episode of The Prisoner, I only remember him in that austere role from later watchings of the series.

No, like the rest of us who were around for any part of the late Sixties, early Seventies, Peter Wyngarde is only and ever could be Jason King.

I only ever watched him in the role in Department S, in which he co-starred with smooth-suited, sleek-haired Joel Fabiani and bubbly-permed Rosemary Nicholls. Wyngarde was one of three equal stars, attached to a specialist Interpol department.

Department S debuted on a Saturday night in 1969. There was a single series of 28 episodes, filmed as cheaply as possible (to save costs, the series was shot back to back with its contemporary, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)). It was a typical, shoestring ATV production, aimed at the American market (hence the American lead).

Fabiani was ex-FBI agent Stewart Sullevan, a pragmatic agent whose background was never filled in, the vivacious Nicholls played Annabelle Hurst, a computer expert and analyst. He was the straight man, she did the glamour (in episode 1, trapped in a suspect’s apartment, she escaped by stripping down to bra and knickers, donning a long blonde wig and sashaying out: I faithfully watched every other episode without her ever doing anything like that again).

Wyngarde was the break-out star, though, the one the public loved. He was an adventure novelist by trade, the ideas man, the comic relief. Wyngarde played him in hip three piece suits, with a Zapata moustache and a flamboyant manner that sent himself up.

The series was dirt cheap. None of the cast ever left the studio. Outdoor scenes were filmed with extras, body-doubles and anonymous locations. But it was fun, in the way so many of that type of series was in the middle to late-Sixties, and the combination of the straight performances of Fabiani and Nicholls with the high camp of Wyngarde made it stand out.

The show wasn’t renewed. Instead, Wyngarde was asked to star in a spin-off as Jason King. This ran for a single, 26 episode series, concentrating on trying to write his fictional self-image agent, Mark Caine. I didn’t watch this, though I’ve occasionally caught scenes on afternoon TV: King worked as relief in the trio but for me was far too over the top as a solo star.

In later life, commenting about The Prisoner, Wyngarde claimed that Patrick McGoohan had originally wanted him to play Number 2 every week, but that he couldn’t fit that into his schedule. I’ve never seen any comment from McGoohan about this claim, but it couldn’t have worked, and that’s not criticising Wyngarde: a ‘ecurring Number 2, same opponent week in week out would have been a disaster.

As times and tastes changed, Wyngarde’s theatrical style got further and further out of fashion. But at that time and for that time, he was the toast of the town, the King of his own particular hill, and we who watched the ATV thrillers of that time took great delight in them, and in Jason King, Wyngarde achieved his own little slice of immortality.

The Prisoner: Other Media – The Prisoner’s Dilemma


Several years ago, when I did my series about Patrick McGoohan’s landmark TV series, The Prisoner, I wrote about attempts to portray Number 6 in other media. I mentioned, in passing because I hadn’t then read it, a 2005 novel, The Prisoner’s Dilemma, written by Jonathan Blum and Rupert Booth and published by Powys Media, and intended to the the first of a series of new stories about everybody’s favourite Village.

Time has passed. The series never materialised. The anticipated book two, The Outsider by Lance Parkin, never appeared. Powys Media’s website list book three, Miss Freedom, written by Andrew Cartmel but not how to get it. Google turns up some mixed reviews of this, at GoodReads and Google Books, but a search of eBay, Amazon and BookFinder turns up no copies, and whilst Biblio.com lists a signed and numbered copy of the book, it is out of stock.

A mystery worthy of the series, perhaps?

Nevertheless, I had acquired and read a copy of The Prisoner’s Dilemma, and it’s time to supplement the series with a few words about it.

On balance, the book is worthy of its good reputation. It’s plot is complex and well-managed, springing from a single, ingenious action that involved Number 6 with Number 18, a tense, troubled young woman who is, in a completely different fashion, every bit as much a rebel against the Village as he is. The story starts with Number 6 on his ceaseless mission to monitor the Village’s ever-developing  surveillance for blind and deaf spots, when he is almost witness to Number 18 murdering a man: her Observer, it transpires, but also someone who has been sexually abusing her for some time.

This trigger’s Number Six’s chivalrous instincts, as do similar but less serious situations in the series, but it also triggers the classic impasse that forms the title of the book, and its underlying theme. Two prisoners are held in separate custody, facing common charges: do they trust each other in order to prevail against their captors, or race each other to sell out and shift the blame onto the other? Trust only works if both come to the same decision, but they cannot communicate with each other, cannot agree to trust.

Number Six finds himself accused of the Observer’s murder, both by reason of who he is and where he was and because Number Eighteen has, allegedly, claimed he killed the man.

Neither is charged. This set-up is but a preliminary to the main novel, a more-than-McGuffin that serves not only to connect Numbers Six and Eighteen but to introduce the central dilemma of the entire novel: does Number Six learn to trust Number Eighteen? Can he?

That’s as far as I’m going to go in describing the story. This pairing, having been forced by the Village, is put through a long series of variegated tests, designed to work on that question, as they try to combine opposing approaches to the objective of bringing down a new Village system that infallibly controls people by accurately predicting their responses. Can Number Six trust Number Eighteen? I’m not telling you, but the book itself gives away the ultimate answer in nearly every page.

Blum and Booth are good, very good indeed, on the minutiae of Number Six’s Village life and the overwhelming paranoia with which he has to live in order to survive on the terms he has demanded for himself. The book is thick with detail of what the Prisoner thinks and does, the extent to which he is completely self-isolated by the approach he has chosen.

Number Eighteen’s approach is radically different, and Blum/Booth provide plenty of arguments in its favour as a viable approach. And the further we get into the book, the more those arguments become objections to the flaws of the persona Number Six has adopted, that blind him to any option that is not generated by himself in accordance with what are very narrow criteria. The Prisoner’s Dilemma.

It makes for a dense, very intense book, sometimes a bit wearyingly so. Number Six’s attitude is complete and fully coherent, but the endless vigilance, the refusal/inability to compromise even for a second on the most minor of things asks the reader to raise their game to an inhuman level. Nor does the undisguised contempt for any alternate concept help us ease into the story: inevitably, some of what Number Six says comes over as the most rigid egomania, and the longer the book goes on, the more despairingly and more often Number Eighteen points this out to him and us.

Can he really trust her? That’s where the ending is really clever, making her disappear in ambiguous circumstances that could be anything from escape to reassignment, leaving us with the same dilemma as Number Six.

I do have some specific complaints about this book. The first is that its Number Two never rises above being a cypher, and that too much of the book leaves him on the sidelines, depriving us of the direct clash of minds that underlines each of the television episodes. At different times and in different ways, Number Six’s battles are against Numbers Fifty-four (the honest cop) and Number One Hundred and One (the ultimate double agent), so that when Number Two begins to play a direct role, in the last phase, it comes too late to share the personal element so important to the rhythm of the series.

And I am seriously concerned at the uneven tone of the book in one serious aspect. The Prisoner was made and set in 1967/68, in an era of Cold War rigidity, in the still-living aftermath of a War that had turned on ideologies, spawning a world in which ideologies were even more prominent. It took its politics from that, it took its colours and concerns from the edge of the counterculture that was feeling its way into being, it pointed us towards the future that was bearing down, as a warning that we all ignored.

Blum and Booth were writing almost forty years on, in a world in which the Village has spread to encompass our lives. There have been massive leaps in technology and culture. Unfortunately, the authors try to have it both ways, trying to retain the ambience and the politics of the Sixties whilst folding in the computerised world of the Twenty-First Century. It sets up a tension that they can’t resolve, with a Reality Show employing fantastic technology that resembles nothing but state-of-the-art CGI switching to an attack on high-powered computers so primitive that their back-ups are still on tapes.

And what Blum and Booth don’t seem to realise is that by introducing their Reality Show (and a coy reference to The Kumars at no. 42), not only are they irretrievably mixing incompatible cultural periods but the defeat they concoct for Number Six is as crushing and final as they portray it as being. Number Six’s credibility on every level is shattered, he is completely defused, his privacy is destroyed, in a manner that cannot be reset.

The idea is too good.

Overall, though, I’d rank The Prisoner’s Dilemma as much more representative of the series than any of the official, contemporaneous tie-in novels, and in its incorporation of futuristic themes, tons better than the Shattered Visage comic. It’s a shame the series wasn’t continued as envisaged, especially as the ending of this book looks to be foreshadowing the non-existent Lance Parkin novel. Or is it?

That is, appropriately, a matter of trust…

The Prisoner: episode 3 – A, B and C – discursion


Portmeirion

A, B and C was the third episode of The Prisoner to be broadcast, but the tenth episode to be filmed, at a time when the series was seriously over-budget and demanding economies in filming the last handful of episodes.
It was written by Anthony Skene, who had written the already filmed Dance with the Devil (broadcast episode 8). Aware that money was tight and that Portmeirion was more or less out of bounds, Skene toured the MGM backlot at Borehamwood, plotting his script, taking advantage of already constructed outdoor sets (one of which is taken from The Dirty Dozen!).
In practice, apart from stock footage, and one very short scene where body doubles stand in for Patrick McGoohan and Sheila Allen as the former watches the latter ascend the steps towards the Green Dome, Portmeirion is not involved and the entire production is studio-bound.
In my last instalment, I grouped Prisoner episodes into three main categories: Escape, Resistance and Revolt. A, B and C is clearly a prime example of the second group. The entire episode is focussed on extracting information from Number Six, and upon his resisting this. But there’s an interesting wrinkle on Leo McKern’s iconic question, ‘why did you resign?’. Colin Gordon has already decided his answer to that, and his object is to prove it.
Gordon cuts an interesting figure in this episode. Like McKern, who would not return until the end of the series, Gordon appears as Number Two in two episodes, but his performances are radically different in each. Note that, in the opening catechism, Gordon’s answer to ‘Who are you?’ is subtly different, being ‘I am Number Two’, instead of ‘The New Number Two’. We’ll look at this more closely when we get to Gordon’s other episode, but it’s a strong indication that his two episodes, which are broadcast out of the order in which they are filmed, are chronologically meant to follow each other in sequence. And that opens up an even bigger question that we’ll look at separately.
What this episode provides is a tight, taut thriller with a fantastic (in the literal sense) theme. Five decades later, we’re far more aware that machines that can influence dreams and the subconscious not only can exist, but do and are used, but in 1968 this was a leap for the audience to take.
The use of hallucinatory drugs also caught the mood of the time, with the growing public awareness of the effects of LSD, which at that stage – and to a large extent still – focussed on the visionary, uncontrolled effects that threatened the stability of the mine and the evidence of the senses.
The lack of Portmeirion scenes, coupled with the emphasis on Number Fourteen’s laboratory, make this a claustrophobic episode. The lab is introduced at night, in heavy rain – practically the only instance of bad weather in the entire service, creating the subliminal impression that weather control is a part of the Village’s superficial benevolence towards its inmates – and all of Number Six’s dream sequences take place at night, making this physically one of the darkest episodes in the series.
On the other hand, there’s an interesting sense of release given that so much of the story takes place ‘outside’ the confines of the Village. And outside the confines of actuality, which latter aspect allows Skene to emphasise yet further the air of surreality inherent in the Village itself.
The three options, A, B and C embody the classic three-act structure, by which the episode repeats and progresses. A is a conventional spy episode: Number Six refuses an approach from an ex-colleague who has defected to ‘the other side’ and defeats an attempt to take him by force by simple fisticuffs. In this Act, Number Six is unsuspecting and entirely under the Village’s control.
B is a female representative of ‘the other side’, and the approach, partly due to her female nature placing her outside physical confrontation, and partly because the Act now moves on to a subtle, semi-seductive approach, is indirect and set out on an emotional basis.
The episode progresses slowly because Number Six is now suspicious and is resisting direction, and when the Village attempt more direct influence, it merely increases Number Six’s suspicions and his determination to avoid the issue.
As an aside, one criticism levelled against The Prisoner is of McGoohan’s misogyny. I’ll be looking at this aspect elsewhere, but here it’s relevant to note that McGoohan, throughout his career, was resolutely against the portrayal of ‘immoral’ behaviour with women – he turned down the offer of James Bond ahead of Sean Connery on this very ground – which complicates the execution of such an approach.
With C, the episode enters fantasy at its most compete and compelling. Whilst Number Six has altered things to his advantage by diluting the ‘magic potion’, this only adds a veneer of real-world plausibility to the heroic situation whereby he demonstrates his ability to enter into his own dreams and direct these entirely according to his will, enabling him to construct a completely misleading scenario designed to subvert his audience’s expectations. Number Six uses his enemies’ own devices to overthrow them and ultimately deny them the outcome of their investigations.
The C of their pitifully thin research is and remains a complete cypher, an unknown. He exists because of the Rule of Three: a C must exist but he is defined only in terms of being not A or B. The episode’s transition into a completely out of body experience from this point onwards is a complete overcoming of Number Two’s plans. His belief that Number Six was selling-out is left unfulfilled – if we take the dreams as reliable evidence of what would have happened, as we are supposed to, all we ever learn is that Number Six rejected A.
This unexpected divergence from the expected path, from Number Two’s constructed scenario, is symbolised by Number Six introducing ‘D’, even before the, now inevitable, exposure of D as Number Two himself (a moment that foreshadows an even greater, and this time stunning revelation, that overturns the reality of the entire series, much later on.)
In the end, the only evidence we as audience get that can be relied upon is Number Six’s declaration, and this still in his dream, albeit under his own control, that he did not intend to sell out. That wasn’t why he resigned.
It’s one of Number Six’s most comprehensive and unmixed victories in the series.
The other interesting aspect of A, B and C, is that the fact that Number Two is as much a prisoner as Number Six is subtly reinforced, from the opening scene. McKern agreed the accusation immediately, acknowledged his own status as a ‘lifer’ cheerfully, and with the acceptance of a fanatic who believes it is the right condition under which to live in pursuit of his ‘higher’ motives.
Gordon, in contrast, is a mass of nerves, tense, ulcerous, forever drinking milk to calm his stomach. His subservience to, his fear of the voice on the big red phone, of Number One, is palpable. Unlike McKern, he has no philosophy to sustain him. Perhaps it is that which makes him so fearful, so vulnerable in this episode. Not only is he unreconciled, he is under direct threat. He is ‘not irreplaceable’, and enough is saidf to establish that replacement will not involve demotion to a less important position.
Uneasy lies the head that wears the Crown.

The Prisoner: episode 2 – The Chimes of Big Ben – synopsis


Thunder crashes. A slightly edited version of the opening sequence from Arrival – without the scene at the car park barrier and less driving through London – follows, until the title card, The Chimes of Big Ben, appears over Number 6’s first view of the Village. There follows a series of questions between McGoohan and this week’s guest star Leo McKern as Number 2, over a variety of standard village shots. This sequence will appear on most of the remaining episodes.
It is morning in the Village. The ubiquitous loudspeaker awakens Number 6 with proclamations about the weather and an up-and-coming art show with a competition for all the Village to enter. It goes over to soothing music, played far too loudly for comfort.
The new Number 2, a boisterous, energetic, well-rounded man, views Number 6 getting up and making breakfast. He comments that the Prisoner can make even putting his dressing gown on into an act of defiance. His assistant suggests that Number 6 can be broken, but that is not what Number 2 wants: he wants the whole man, on his side. All it will take is one answer: why did you resign? He also checks that the helicopter is on its way.
Later that morning, whilst Number 6 is sitting outside, overlooking the beach, Number 2 falls in with him, suggesting that number 6 make more effort to settle in. They spar, verbally. Number 2 clearly relishes the challenge of his opponent. The helicopter lands and an attractive young woman, asleep on a stretcher, is unloaded.
Number 2 invites Number 6 back to his office, where he entertains him with surveillance of the woman waking up in her new home. She is Number 8, his new neighbour, replacing the previous Number 8, who has vanished. There is no body for a funeral
The new arrival awakes, thinking she is in her own home, until she sees outside her window. Like Number 6 before her, she is summoned to tea at the Green Dome. Emerging from her cottage, disoriented, she meets Number 6 who directs her to the Green Dome. He is expecting this to be a trap for him and, when she returns, quite late, he invites her in for a drink. Number 8 refuses her number and gives her name as Nadia, before becoming suspicious of him, accusing him of being Number 2’s assistant. But Number 6 now has suspicions.
These are confirmed the following day when Nadia, a former Olympics swimmer, starts to swim out to sea. Number 2 has again stopped to talk, but he is aware of Nadia’s increasing distance from shore and orders an Orange Alert: she is brought back by Rover and rushed off in an ambulance.
The next day, Number 2 asks Number 6 to the hospital, where Nadia is being continually questioned over her acts: what was she thinking of? Was she intending to kill herself? Number 6 is there ostensibly bevcause he knows her better than anyone else in the Village.
The strain is affecting Nadia. She is in a room with an electrified floor, a lethal current flashing on and off every four seconds. The door can be reached in three seconds, if she in confident in herself. Using handfuls of water from a bowl, Nadia times the electric flashes, but when she makes for the door, she breaks down screaming, waiting to be killed. Number 2 hurriedly countermands the current, before commenting that they will have to undertake further tests.
Angrily, Number 6 orders him to stop, then, as a sop, agrees to cooperate. But only in one respect: he will enter the art exhibition. Amused at his presumption, Number 2 agrees, and Nadia is released back to her cottage.
That night, Number 6 conducts a seeming romance: under the relaxing lullaby of the Village radio, he quizzes Nadia as to his suspicions that she is here because she knows the whereabouts of the Village. After time to think, Nadia confirms this: the Village is on the Lithuanian coast, thirty miles from the Polish border. There is a resistance group there with whom she has a contact.
Number 6 spends several weeks making his art exhibit. Number 2 drops by: Number 6 has made a primitive axe and chisel, has cut down a tree and is chipping out a shape from it. The ‘weapons’ are illegal, but Number 2 winks an indulgent eye, allowing Number 6 to continue.
Come the exhibition, Number 6’s piece stands out. It is a abstract tryptich of supposedly religious symbology, and is the eventual winner. It is also the only entry not to be about number 2. Indeed, Number 6 immediately uses his 2,000 credit prize to buy a tapestry of Number 2 woven by Number 38, an elderly woman.
That night, Number 6 and Nadia break curfew to smuggle his sculpture to the beach, where it fits together to make a two-person boat, with mast, and a sail consisting of the tapestry. By the morning, they are on the edge of the Village’s radar, and Rover is sent to retrieve them. Number 6 and Nadia abandon their boat and swim ashore, under a cover of protective fire from the Polish group, repelling Rover.
Arrangements are already in place to ship them to Number 6’s former bosses in London, via Gdansk and Copenhagen. Number 6 demands details of the route and, as his watch has stopped because of its immersion, he borrows a watch from the Polish fisherman to monitor their journey and ensure it takes the right amount of time.
Travelling in a wooden crate, they progress via lorry, ship and aeroplane. Nadia, who has been  calling him Big Ben since their plan was first formed, asks ingenuous questions about London, Number 6’s life there, and whether he is married.
They are delivered to a plush and familiar London Office, filled with the sound of traffic and the chimes of Big Ben. Number 6’s colleague Fotheringay greets him, and takes Nadia away, whilst his superior, Colonel J (this is the name given in the credits: in the episode he is only referred to as the Colonel), wants to speak to him.
The Colonel is openly sceptical of Number 6’s story of the Village. He points out that Number 6 abruptly resigned from a position of high security, refusing to give a reason and promptly disappeared until, several months later, a message is received from behind the Iron Curtain that he is on his way home. Has he been turned? Until Number 6 is fully debriefed, starting with the true reasons for his resignation, he will not be trusted, nor will Nadia be safeguarded.
Wearily accepting the inevitability of all this, Number 6 starts to say that, for a long time… But Big Ben has struck the hour, he has automatically checked his watch, and both say eight o’clock. But his watch was taken from a Polish fisherman: why did the fisherman have a watch set to London time when he’s one hour ahead?
The Colonel attempts to bluster but Number 6 has stopped listening. He explores the office until he finds a wire coming out of a cabinet. When he yanks this out, the London sounds stop abruptly. Inside the cabinet is a tape-recorder. When the plug is restored, so too are the London street sounds.
Number 2 gives the Colonel a look of contempt. He leaves the office, walks slowly down a corridor and opens a door. He finds himself standing at the side of the Village Town Hall. On the front steps, Number 2, Fotheringay and Nadia stand together. She sees him first, and they stop talking. As he walks past them, Number 6 brings thumb and forefinmger together into a circle over his eye and says “Be Seeing You.”
Back at his house, before the door opens with a low, sibilant hum, he flicks the sign again for the surveillance camera’s benefit. He goes inside and the door shuts behind him
Doors clang upon McGoohan’s image as it rushes to fill the screen. The closing credits start.