Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the 1967 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: ONCE UPON A TIME … This installment is PART ONE OF THE TWO-PART SERIES FINALE.
This time around we at last learn why the Prisoner resigned from British Intelligence, PLUS the significance of the Penny-Farthing Bicycle symbolism becomes clear.
NOTE: This episode is sometimes confused with The Girl Who Was Death because that episode began with a child’s story-book being opened and the title Once Upon A Time understandably puts some viewers in mind of that opening.
Leo McKern returns as the same Number Two he portrayed back in The Chimes of Big Ben. The Number Twos are the rotating series of executives who manage the prison-city called the Village. The midget Butler (Angelo Muscat), the only character besides Patrick McGoohan to appear in every episode of the series, serves McKern breakfast right there in Number Two’s office inside the Green Dome.
Number Two is too fidgety to eat and continues studying the viewscreen, with live surveillance footage of the Prisoner pacing like a caged tiger in his residence. At length McKern reacts to Number Six’s unflagging intensity and indefatigable sense of purpose by calling him on the cordless phone.
“Why do you care?” he asks our protagonist when he answers. (I’d have preferred the more specific question “Why do you STILL care?”) McGoohan makes it clear he recognizes the voice and when Number Two asks the same question again he tauntingly replies “You’ll never know.”
Number Two settles back into controlled fuming as he continues watching our hero pacing. As I mentioned in another recent episode the advantage in the war of nerves between the Prisoner and the Villagekeepers has definitely shifted to Number Six at this late stage. Continue reading