Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the science fiction/ existential drama The Prisoner. For Part One, in which I examined the themes and concepts at play in the series click HERE
Episode Title: ARRIVAL
Fans of The Prisoner know that the exact order of the 17 episodes is up in the air since not even Patrick McGoohan, the show’s creator, star and prime creative force, was certain. However, there is no doubt that Arrival is the very first episode of the show (for obvious reasons).
The opening credits sequence is repeated for each episode (except for variations for Living in Harmony and for the very last episode, titled Fallout). That sequence presents our protagonist, the Prisoner (real name never revealed), disgustedly resigning from the Intelligence Service. Back at his home he is gassed into unconsciousness and awakens in an isolated, high-tech and dystopian prison-city that is called the Village.
The program’s nature as a Kafkaesque tale with science fiction trappings is established in this debut episode. The Prisoner is taken aback by the seemingly cheerful and storybook surface nature of the Village and the way that surface is at odds with the underlying air of fear and paranoia.
All inhabitants/ captives of the Village are either former Intelligence Operatives like himself, or scientists or figures from the government or military. And from all around the world, too, not just the West.
In the Cold War attitude of the time the Prisoner is obsessed with finding out “which side” the Villagekeepers are on, but as the series progresses it becomes clear that the Free World vs Communist World paradigm is merely part of the deception being played on the Village’s prisoners. And possibly the world at large, intriguingly enough. Continue reading