The Prisoner (1967) – A. B. and C., and Free For All

Anthony Skene pens A. B. and C. which sees Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) dealing with a new assault, this time on his mind, as a new Number Two (Colin Gordon) uses dream manipulation to attempt to sift the truth of Six’s resignation.

First airing on 13 October, 1967, it sees Six being drugged at night, and carted off to a laboratory to be overseen by Two and Fourteen (Sheila Allen), who is a scientist, and has been able to create a drug that will not only allow outside observes to view a person’s dreams but to also elicit some control over them by introducing situations and characters.

Two believes that Six sold out at the point of his resignation and is determined to find out what he sold, and who he sold it to. He has the list worked down to three people, A. B. and C. and through the dreams, Six has encounters with each of them.

But pretty early on in the game, Six figures out what is possibly happening to him at night, does some investigation, and some preventative maintenance, and is able to turn the tables on two, while still protecting his secrets, while revealing that with his resignation, he really was determined to go on holiday.

Or that’s what he wanted them to think.

The series is definitely engaging, and this episode allows Six to continue his quips, and do so in a tux, like a ‘real’ secret agent. And this Number Two becomes even more infuriated with him, as the giant red phone on his desk rings with demands and orders from the unseen Number One…

Free for All was written by Paddy Fritz (read as McGoohan) and directed by McGoohan as well. It first aired on 22 October, 1967, and gives us yet another new Number Two (Eric Portman).

Every twelve months, the Village has democratic elections for the positions of authority in the Village, Six decides to run for Two’s office. But what is really at work here? And if he wins, he can learn who Number One is, and perhaps, find a way out of the Village, once and for all.

The colors, camerawork, sets, and imagery at work in this episode, not to mention the general off-putting nature of those in the Village, makes this story a little unnerving. Even more so, when Six has to undergo a test, to prove his intentions during the election.

Not really a surprise that the people want to test him, considering his platform – he wants to know who Number One is, where they are, how they make the decisions that rule the Village. Of course, he’s going to try to use this opportunity to escape, but no matter what he attempts he is being manipulated (even though it does seem like he gets a pretty solid electoral response – he connects to the people), and of course, the Village is going to come out on top no matter how things play out.

And even if he wins, will he be able to free the other residents of the Village, discover who Number One? There is some very surreal imagery throughout the episode, all of it leaving you to wonder what is really happening, and if there really is no escape.

I guess I’ll have to wait until next time to see if Number Six finds a way…

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