The Prisoner (1967) – The Schizoid Man, and The General

Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) suffers a bit of an identity crisis this week in The Schizoid Man. Written by Terence Feely, this episode had an original airdate of 27 October, 1967. There’s yet another new Number Two (Anton Rodgers), and he’s got quite the plan concocted to finally break Number Six…

He changes his number, puts him deep under drug and mental control, reprograms his reflexes, changing him from a righty to a lefty, and assigns him a new number, Twelve. And Twelve’s assignment, play imposter to Number Six (also McGoohan) in an attempt to break him, or is it all a big plan to break Six now Twelve?

This new Number Six seems to be better at being Six than Twelve ever was, and does Twelve begin to doubt who he is, or does he have some proof to cling to that he is who he says he is? And if he can hold on, will an opportunity present itself to allow him to perhaps, finally, escape?

And everything seems to hinge not only Twelve’s performance as Six, but the evidence as presented by a young would-be photographer and mind-reader (what did she do to arrive in the Village?), and also a resident that has an actual name, Alison (Jane Merrow).

There’s a lot going on in this episode, and it’s all fun, and those dangerous white balloons arrive again, and apparently are referred to as Rover.

The conclusion of the episode pounces on you, because this time, Number Six was so close to getting out…

The General aired on 3 November, 1967, and was penned by Lewis Greifer. And this was the first episode that I didn’t overtly love and enjoy. There’s a new speed-learning process sweeping the Village, created by the Professor (Peter Howell) and someone (thing?) referred to as The General.

You can almost instantaneously learn anything with pre-programmed imagery, and Number Two (Colin Gordon returning) may be planning on using it for brain-washing purposes. So the Professor, in his way, has been hoping Number Six will help him, eliciting his help, and giving advice through Number Twelve (not McGoohan but John Castle, who seems like he may be new to the Village).

Soon, everyone is able to cite the facts from the speed-learning process, but Twelve points out a fault in the system, and Six figures out a way to finally discover the true nature of the General, and brings the whole thing crashing down.

I think my issue with this episode is that I have been re-watching a lot of Star Trek: The Original Series of late, and the plot just sounds pretty familiar once it gets rolling. If I was able to clear my brain and just settle in for the episode, maybe I would have enjoyed it more, but at this point, we’ve seen variations on this story a number of times.

The Prisoner will try to make his escape again on Thursday… stay tuned!

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