The Prisoner (1967) – Many Happy Returns, and Dance of the Dead

Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) gets quite the birthday present in this episode written by Anthony Skene and directed by McGoohan (who apparently also had his hand in the script for this episode). It first aired on 12 November, 1967.

When Six wakes up, the Village is deserted, there’s no power, no water, and no people. After some documenting of the location with a camera he picks up at the deserted local shop, he builds himself a raft and makes an escape – with no power, there’s nothing to stop him, not even Rover.

He’s adrift for almost three weeks when he is picked up by a boat, who leave him for dead, but he turns the tables on them, and uses the boat to get close enough to shore… he’s back in England!

He tracks down his old home, now occupied by a pleasant enough woman, Mrs. Butterworth (Georgina Cookson), who has taken it over, and even has his car in his keeping. He heads to his old agency, and attempts to convince his former employers of what happened, and that they need to locate the Village.

They finally relent, and Six joins the air search to track it down… only to be ejected from the plane when they are over the Village, and when Six comes to, he encounters Butterworth again… she’s the new Number Two, and all of this was a grand scheme to allow him a moment of freedom, only to have him return to them on his own (mostly) just in time for his birthday.

This was a great one!

Dance of the Dead was also written by Skene (and possibly McGoohan) and aired on 26 November, 1967.

A new Number Two (Mary Morris) keeps an eye on Number Six, utilizing Rover and a friendly black cat, but things take an interesting turn for Six during an escape attempt when he discovers a body has washed ashore, and in its belongings… a radio.

Pushing the body back out to sea, Six keeps the radio, and plans to use it reach the outside world, and perhaps be rescued. But that is just the opening ploy as Six squares off against Number Two with the Village’s masquerade serving as a backdrop.

This makes things a little more off-kilter than one would like, but Six maintains his cool, seemingly unflappable, as he is able to seemingly get further into the secrets of the Village, and those who run it, than ever before.

Things are complicated by an Observer (Norma West) who has been watching him, and may have developed some emotional attachment to him. But, once again, is it all part of Number Two’s plans to eventually break Six down so that they can learn the truth of his resignation and the secrets he keeps?

Information! Information! Information!!

There’s more to come next week as I spend some time with The Prisoner!

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