Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Prisoner: It's Your Funeral

I recently purchased--at the unspoken behest of the geek hivemind--the classic BBC series The Prisoner. I'm watching it offshore to pass the time and sharing spoiler-free responses/reviews with the internet without provcation, cause, or request because that's what the internet is for. Enjoy.

Badass Decay. Spikefication. Whatever you want to call it, it sucks and it’s what “It’s Your Funeral” is all about. Words are said, consequences are levied, but ultimately, it’s all an effort to move some action forward and try to spackle over plot holes which are generally larger than the plot itself.

Great plan. How’s that gonna work out for you?

Not only does The Prisoner not try to escape when the opportunity presents itself, he actually helps one of The Keepers escape. Reading back over this series, it’s like the makers wanted to make all of my predictions wrong at every turn.

Yeah, not so well.

Well, that’s not right. The order I’m watching them in was created by the fan club Six of One, and AMC used that order whenever they put the series onto DVD (there’s also the order it was originally shown in on television, and the production order. Lots of ways to shuffle these episodes around, apparently). If you’ve never understood the role of curator, perhaps you should join Six of One and take some tips; they’ve managed to take a series with a lot of hits and a lot of misses and provide an order for it that makes you appreciate the ups despite the downs (yes, I’m sure much of this is due to the series itself). However brilliant I think the viewing order is, it does have a habit of making me expect one thing, then get another.

Bonus: He does tell The Keepers to fuck off instead of playing their game…at first.

Last episode I mentioned that lack of a unifying mythology, etc.. However, no sooner had I typed that and moved on than did I watch this episode and see and episode based around The Real Number Two returning to take his rightful place, so that he could hand it down (permanently) to his (permanent) successor. Yes, I know that they won’t be around much longer and despite all of my alternate universe babbling last time that the episodes do often cop to multiple Number Twos, but somehow referencing it openly doesn’t work too well for me. Hats-off for including footage of Number Twos we’d never seen before though instead of clips from previous episodes.

"Interim" is apparently one of those words that can launch a thousand retcons.

That said, The Keepers really fuck up in this episode by bringing Number Six up to their level. What I mean by that is that no matter the human apparatus behind their operations, Number Two’s constantly-changing face showed that they were all interchangeable; that the machinery was important, not the person. That Number Six is elevated into the human realms of The Village’s operations—behind the curtain of fake smiles and made up councils—he knows definitively that his enemy is human and can be beaten. By letting Number Six work with the retiring Number Two, The Keepers are reduced from monolithic enemy whose whim keeps his mental integrity intact into COBRA, whose villainous plans can be thwarted by an English spy operating from within their own camp.

Yes, he’s really talking about killing someone.

If there was any continuity to this series (and thank ye gods there isn’t), it would be the beginning of The Prisoner’s real struggle against them. Granted, the conscious ordering of the episodes might mark this as the point where he can begin working against them on another level, perhaps going strategically on the offensive instead of his more tactical forays to-date.  You can see the clear progression in the early episodes of where he is clearly off-balance and almost losing ground “Dance of the Dead” and “Free for All” versus later episodes where he’s making headway “Checkmate” and “The Schizoid Man.”

He will be friendly. And you will suffer.

As I mentioned, he doesn’t try to escape in this episode, so that strategic offensive certainly doesn’t start here. If anything, this episode marks a very subtle sea-change while masquerading as a very lazy, very short Tom Clancy novel.

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