Everything Prisoner Episode Guide
Episode Four: Free For All
Back to Three: A. B. and C.
Forward to Five: The Schizoid Man (forthcoming)
The Prisoner Episode Guide
At the start:
Last time Number Six not only survived Number 14’s insidious dream-controlling system, but turned it to his advantage! This is one of Six’s greatest victories over the course of the series. Unfortunately, it is followed by one of his major defeats.
During this episode:
One morning Number Six gets a call from another new Number Two. This time the audio portion is matched with an image on his television, asking for a chat. Six’s reply before slamming down the phone: "The mountain can come to Mahomet!" But who should just then arrive at his door but Number Two! "Mahomet?" Six responds, "Everest, I presume?" As the two converse, Two and Six are served breakfast by Number 58, a maid who speaks no English.
The conversation is cordial; this is not one of the more sadistic Number Twos Six has met. Two tells Six that this is the first day of the Village election campaign. According to Two, the office of "Number Two" is an elected position, and that the Village citizens choose their leader once every twelve months by democratic vote. Six is understandably skeptical. Two asks Six if he wishes to run for his office. Six responds that Two has a delicate sense of humor.
Then, outside on the street comes a commotion and loud music. A brass band is seen outside, carrying signs reading "VOTE No 2" over a blown up image of Number Two’s face. Two remarks to Six that it seems unanimous. Six is sly however, commenting that everyone votes for a dictator. Two says it’s because their resistance is low, and that it’s bad for morale. But when Two tells Six that, if he were elected, Number One’s identity will become revealed to him, Six decides to play along and run for the office. The two exit Six’s residence, meet up with The Butler, and then Two addresses the crowd to the roaring adulation requested from the crowds by cue cards held by Butler. Two announces Six’s candidacy to the crowd. Six’s speech to the assembled Villagers is one of the more important passages in the series, as it is defined here Six’s relation with the Villagers and his challenge to them all:
Six: "I am not a number. I am a person."
Crowd: (laughs loudly)
Six (grimly, at first shouting over laughter): "In some place, at some time, all of you held positions of a secret nature and had knowledge that was invaluable to an enemy. Like me, you are here to have that knowledge protected or extracted."
Two (aside to Six): "That’s the stuff to give ‘em."
Six: "Unlike me, many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment and will die here like rotten cabbages."
Two (aside): "Keep going, they love it!"
Six: "The rest of you have gone over to the side of our keepers. Which is which? How many of each? Who’s standing beside you now? I intend to discover who are the prisoners and who are the warders. I shall be running for office in this… election?"
The crowd cheers Six’s bid, but disturbingly, counterparts to the "VOTE No 2" signs, with Six’s number and visage, are seen among the assembly almost instantly. Six is given one of the Village electric cars to use during the campaign, and also lent a driver, who is the same Number 58 from that morning. She does not seem to understand anything Six tells her and seems to be lacking in any intelligence at all.
On his way to Town Hall for the dissolution of the town council, he is accosted by two journalists, Numbers 113 and 113B, who pose him questions. To (almost) all of them, Six responds with "No comment," but the journalists supply their own answers, all the while 113B snaps photos. The "interview" appears in the Village newspaper, the Tally Ho, complete with photograph almost instantly. Six is not happy about this and begins to storm off, but Rover appears and he changes his mind. It appears he is running whether he wants to or not.
The Council turns out to be composed of brainwashed drones. Six questions them angrily but, while he does so, from an eye on the wall comes a purple light. His stand spins faster and faster to a strange noise, and then he is thrown from the platform into a room filled with red light. He staggers for a bit, eventually collapsing at the feet of the new Director of the Labor Exchange, who straps him into a chair where he is given a bizarre "Truth Test" which eventually results in his unconsciousness.
The Prisoner is given a through brainwashing, and while under its influence plays along with the election as if trying to win. But the brainwashing does not hold for long, and soon he makes an escape attempt, foiled by Number Two and Rover. At the hospital after being captured by Rover, Six is further brainwashed, and the election continues.
Six’s campaign soon pulls well ahead of Two’s. He offers the Village population the moon and the crowd eats it up. Two is reduced, in public, to cautioning against Six’s empty promises. But Six soon adopts, on the spot, perhaps prompted by his struggling subconscious, the slogan of "Free for All." At the mention of this, the crowd almost swoons. Six’s words on the campaign stage are mostly senseless, but with the crowd they seem to work.
Six’s brainwashing begins to weaken that evening, and, when he is disgusted with the lack of real alcoholic beverages in the Village nightclub, the Cat and Mouse, Number 58 drives him to a cave away from the main cluster of buildings, in which is found a somewhat drunk Number Two. He reveals that this place is called the "Therapy Zone," that it is not under surveillance, and that the still is run by a brilliant scientist who solves problems for The Village superiors. The two seem to get more and more drunk, until finally, The Prisoner collapses. The scientist reveals that he has been drugging Six’s drink, and that the dose has been calculated to take him through the election.
Number Six wins the election in a landslide. When the cheering of the crowd dies down, Two leads Six and 58, who is still with him, into the Green Dome. Then Two says some words to 58 in her language, then leaves her with Six. Together, 58 and the brainwashed Number Six play randomly with the controls, gad about like children and gibber senselessly. But then 58 seems to recover from her state, and suddenly becomes icy serious. She grabs Six and strikes him several times about the face. Six seems to awaken from his brainwashing. Aware of where he is, he runs to the control panel, turns on the loudspeakers throughout the Village, and addresses the people.
“This is our chance! This is our chance, take it now! I have command. I will immobilize all electronic controls. Listen to me, you are free to go… free to go…”
The Villagers are unimpressed and pay the address no heed, despite Six’s continued exhortations to escape. Inside the Dome, security guards arrive, and Six tries to flee. He runs through the door to encounter a strange cavern lined with straw. In the corner, four men in sunglasses are circled, seated, around Rover, apparently gazing at it intently. These men rise from their chairs and proceed to beat Six soundly. They take him from the room and throw him before the new Number Two: 58. She tells the Prisoner, in English, that this is only the beginning. They have many ways but don’t wish to damage him permanently. Will he talk now? Six is a mess from his recent pummeling, but does not respond. Six is then returned to his residence while the departing old Number Two and the new Number Two converse by phone.
At the end:
Six hasn’t caved yet, but things don’t look good for him. The true power of The Village begins to become manifest. This episode features one of Six's greatest failures, rivaled only by that in Dance of the Dead.
It is revealed:
This is the first story which deals with the Village’s pseudo-democratic system of government. This nature of Village government comes up again later in Episode Twelve: A Change of Mind.
The Village newspaper was mentioned in Episode One: Arrival, but here it is given a name. It is the Tally Ho, and it plays a role in Episode Ten: Hammer Into Anvil.
Other information: The Village nightclub is the Cat And Mouse, although for hard drinks you’ll have to leave the main Village area for the Therapy Zone. However, neither of these locations are referenced elsewhere in the series.
Rover takes on a much more bizarre and mysterious light in this episode. The sinister, roaring, balloon-like death machine is never even slightly explained at any time during the series.
At the end it is revealed that The Village has ways and means greatly beyond what they have used on Number Six that they do not use as they do not wish to harm him permanently. The reason is revealed that, ultimately, the people behind The Village hope to subvert Six into working for them.
Abridged cast information:
Number Six: Patrick McGoohan
Number Two: Eric Portman
Number 58: Rachel Herbert
The Butler: Angelo Muscat
Reporter: Harold Berens
Photographer: Dene Cooper
The Supervisor: Kenneth Benda
Six: "The mountain can come to Mahomet!"
Six: "Everest, I presume?"
Six: "...Which is which? How many of each? Who’s standing beside you now? I intend to discover who are the prisoners and who are the warders. I shall be running for office in this... election?"
The Prisoner by Alain Carrazé and Hèléne Oswald, published in 1995 by Barnes and Noble Books
The Prisoner by Dave Rogers, published in 1993 by Barnes and Noble Books
The Official Prisoner Companion by Matthew White and Jaffer Ali, published in 1988 by Warner Books