The Prisoner (1968) – The Girl Who Was Death, Once Upon a Time, and Fall Out

Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) is back to being a superspy in swinging London, as he matches wits with a deadly female assassin, Sonia (Justine Lord), who is looking to off him, and protect her slightly crazed father, Schnipps (Kenneth Griffith), who is planning on destroying London and establishing him as its new Napoleon-esque leader.

All of the big, over-the-top superspy cliches seem to be on display in this episode, as if the writers, Terence Feely from an idea by David Tomblin, were looking to skewer the genre and point out who such films must be aimed at.

The Girl Who Was Death first went out on 18 January, 1968.

It’s goofy, and fun, as Six pursues Sonia across the city, and through an amusement park, before confronting her in a fairy tale inspired village, where she seems to get the upper hand, but Six just lets her think so as he trails her to the secret lair and foils the dastardly plot once and for all, with a final reveal of what is really going on at the end of the episode.

Six gets to be super smooth, and skilled at all things, with a sly grin, and knowing look in his eyes for the run of the episode, and, honestly, it is undeniably fun, (and for some reason features some blatantly obvious disguises – like Sherlock Holmes!) as it feels like a send-up of the genre. It’s also a little out there with Sonia’s look, and some of the attempts on Six’s life that she makes (honestly, some of it felt like I was watching the original Batman television series) and then there’s the great gag during the car chase!

The penultimate episode of the series, Once Upon a Time, first aired on 25 January, 1968 and was penned by McGoohan (who also directed), as was the final episode, in attempt to wrap everything up as they were notified that the series wasn’t being picked up for a second season.

Six and Two (a returning Leo McKern) are pushing one another to the breaking point, but who will shatter first?

Looked in a large room filled with props, to help create realities that will allow Two to explore Six’s memories, the pair push one another further and further in one of the most engaging, and experimental episodes of the series, that plays out perfectly between the two actors, with Angelo Mucat’s diminutive Butler there to support and offer up set pieces and tools.

I really liked seeing these two actors square off against one another, each of them pushing against one another, who is going to win, is Six finally going to break and reveal why he resigned? Or is he going to be able to turn the tables on Two?

There’s a great power struggle here, and it’s fantastic to watch them both go at one another. And we are delivered a cliffhanger conclusion, Six may have pushed Two so far that he dies!

I love the way this one is put together, the fact that the majority of it is kept to this one location, and it’s all played out as a duel of personalities.

So how does it all end? And will we get any answers?

Fall Out brought the series to a close on 1 February, 1968. McGoohan remains in the director’s chair as he asks to go see Number One. He gets seated on a throne, and plays witness to a strange trial that resurrects Two (McKern), and puts him on trial, alongside Forty Eight (Alexis Kanner) and from there things get even more bizarre.

We learn that even Two has been hypnotized to do what Number One wants (and we are given only a glimpse of this character, though the reveal does make perfect sense). Forty Eight is tried for anarchy, and Six watches over all of it, seemingly comfortable with all that happens, despite the underground lair setting, and the strange masks.

Filled with strange behaviors and outbursts, everything culminates in an attempt for escape, as Six, the Butler, Forty Eight, and Two make a break for it. Though the series ends with a shot that could imply that it’s all going to start again.

It’s an intriguing and almost surreal ending to the series, and honestly, I would have really loved if the entire series had been like these last two episodes, and really push the boundaries with its storytelling.

And just like that, I’m done with the cult series that I had heard of, but never seen. I enjoyed it, but wish it had more stories like the beginning and the end of the series. They’re so much fun!

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