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The New Prisoner TV Series - Dullards Trick or Thinking Man's Treat?

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Because a friend was rushed into hospital with a stroke, I only caught the last part of the first episode (Arrival) and thought the hero was too emotional, rather than fiercely passionate in his rebellion as with Patrick McGoohan (Ian McKellen's cake eating scene was the only thing that caught my eye).


Catching the repeat and seeing No.2 with a family amongst others, made me think of where McGoohan intended the second series of The Prisoner to go (The outside world). It also made me think of Star Trek and the way The Next Generation brought in 'family'.


I also saw a review in Metro that said it all seemed dream like. This angle of memory made me think of parallel lives as in dreams, where we seem to be living elsewhere, simultaneously. It also made me think of reincarnation and rebirth (Taking us back to McGoohan and the Christianity angle bandied about on the original series forum, some years back (born again Christians)). It seems to more mellow than the original but brings in more universal questions of philosophy that we all ask at birth 'Who am I?' 'Where am I?' 'What am I doing here?'.


As in The Matrix and taking the blue or red pill, we have a choice of remembering or forgetting our past lives - the cosy village life of delusions or freedom and harsh reality (American Free Enterprise or the British Nanny State: Note jailers mostly English and Prisoners mostly Americans). It is the evolution from crude to refined - rough and ready to smooth hypochondria, worrying about the smallest details.


Then of course this time round is desert as opposed to mountains and sea (Edge of the world/ here be dragons/ No life on other planets). In other words there is nowhere to escape to ('Don't leave me!'): No life out there, only life in here as No. 2 intimated. Whatever you do, you mustn't link, mustn't think (No thought outside the box).


The dreaded enemy is change - the loving friend is sameness. We follow the inward path to knowledge, in depth chasing mystery - until boredom leads us back out, seeking newness and generality (relief from the tension of perpetual hiding within and retreat from the greater reality without)and the cycle of exploration and experiencing begins again (search for God/ good - linking with greater whole) as self-imprisonment and self-exploration ends (ego/ self).


There is a ratio between perception and direction of consciousness. The more you're aware of that is good (macrocosmic/ futuristic/ freed energy), the more you're also aware of that is bad (microcosmic/ past/ pain, niggling for attention, enslaving it). The less conscious you are, the less aware you are of the problems you're suffering from (problems bigger than your consciousness can deal with (aches) as opposed to small beer that annoys you).


The more you concentrate on the good, the better you feel (extrovert your attention). The more you introvert your attention, the worse you feel (concentrate on the self and its problems, rather than the needs of others): The cure for the ills of the self are to be found in the search for/ service to the other.


Episode two, to me, (Harmony) was about reality and creating it .


To those of you who think reality is fixed and unchanging - may I refer you to The Fortean Times story of a tree that wasn’t there in a photo but the same scene taken a couple of years later, showed a fully grown tree that would have taken fifty or sixty years to grow, minimum . Then there is the case of the UFO as mentioned in John Keel’s book ‘UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse’ as having been seen all over the world but mysteriously my school companions failed to notice it (unlike me), even though it was several hundred feet long and clearly visible for ten minutes at least: Shared consciousness? Certainly not shared with them!).


Is it a dream? Is it Alice in Wonderland or Tom and Jerry, where the cat’s shattered ego breaks into pieces, like fractured glass? Psychic events happen when you’re open to them (relaxed/ unconscious as in dreams/ brainwashed). Conscious reality is consciously controlled - meaning it is guarded against unconscious urges/ information getting through to the outside world. Sleep and other unguarded moments, lead to collapse of the ego (certainty and rigid control), which lets in Freud’s (h)Id and Jung's symbolism: See Dabrowski’s positive disintegration for more on this.


The world is trying to sell an illusion (commercial interests promote the dream of perfection, so that it spreads and converts everywhere else as in religion, so that it all becomes a clone of itself (The world is the village, now). It’s like the snake in Disney’s Jungle Book ‘Trust in me, only me!’ (Don’t believe in you/ ignore your memories - there is nowhere else, no other life - become addicted to me and what we can offer you). In order to survive, what ever you do, you mustn’t admit the truth about the village, to yourself or others (take your cut and shut your mouth). Hence everyone but 6 and 2 are timid.


Life in the village is endless repetition - different only in detail (Groundhog Day). Six however wants to shatter the pattern (escape from the addictive habit) in the original and in the new version is highly unstable, hence the clinic’s importance (the insane don’t conform and the criminal doesn’t either but at some level wants to, unlike the former). Conformity is imposed through bullying and intimidation (unmutual Six in ‘Free for all’). Extroverted as opposed to introverted life ‘Don’t think/ feel! - stay in/ get out! (intellect versus emotion - the loner as opposed to society i.e. private versus public persona).


Homosexual? Only from the viewpoint of separate self as opposed to interaction with the other (allies sought for escape, nothing else - platonic mind as opposed to passionate body). The tight ship of the village, where no-one escapes (well oiled machine as opposed to loose cannon, unstable in the extreme).


Six is a wild animal (pacing in his cage in the original ‘Arrival’). He is surrounded by wilderness (wilder-ness) in both old and new shows but ventures out into it at every opportunity, unlike his fellow prisoners, who’ve accepted their captivity. All the time his captors are trying to break his spirit in order to crush and tame him - even in the last episode of the old show, while placing him on a throne and asking for a speech, they drown him out. If we look at Mankind upon this planet in its present mode, we see this in today’s civilization - nature being crushed and harnessed, and now thanks to science this is even happening atomically.


Why the interrogation on top of this? An individual that has secrets, has independence of action, unlike someone that is open and honest in a relationship. If you are facing and communicating with someone, you are stably entwined with them. If you have secrets and keep something in reserve, then you have a means of escape (food, money, transport): The poor cannot run away/ the honest cannot escape contact with others.


What the third episode (Anvil) of the new series emphasized was paranoia (discovery of our guilt secrets). For instance number 313 wants to run away, pursued by her fears. The courageous want to stay and find out the truth as with six. The paranoid think something is being hidden from them (909, the spy). The open think that there is nothing to find (nothing to hide/ nowhere to run to).


Guilt is fear of being caught doing something that others, whose good favour you want, wouldn’t approve of or at least you fear so (No. 2’s son). This leads to acts of suppression and repression (slavery rather than openness and freedom). Guilty secrets lead to hidden rebellion or defiance but in reality it is not the outside force we rebel against but our own thoughts about the situation: Witness No. 2’s reaction to his son’s admission of being gay as opposed to the violence he imposed on 909 and the latter’s accepting of it as deserved punishment because he let down No. 2’s trust (‘Oh what complex webs we weave, when others we try to deceive’ Robbie Burns). Could this explain the ice cream suits as they also appeared in ‘A Death in Venice’ about repressed homosexuality?


Behind all this is wanting to ‘fit in’ that is be accepted as normal, rather than ‘stand out’ as different - a rebel, misfit, criminal (‘We’re all normal and want our freedom’ Love, ‘Forever Changes’). All aspire to be No. 2* (or ‘1’ as the new show puts it) - wealthy, powerful, famous but not Six, who is his only equal in the Village: In the original series this is shown in the celebrity culture of the art exhibition (The Chimes of Big Ben), where only Six produces something that isn’t a homage to No. 2. According to Carlos Castenada’s ‘Don Juan’, we’re all strange and should embrace it as it is what makes us powerful as opposed to feeling naked and afraid, as with the villagers and other followers as opposed to the self-led or rebels/ creative: Camus covered similar material in ‘The Outsider’ as did Kafka in ‘Metamorphosis’ and of course it was his, ‘The Trial’, that probably helped inspire ‘ The Prisoner’ in the first place. By the way I find it ironic that McGoohan played ‘No.2 ‘ in ‘Braveheart’, wanting to confine and kill Gibson, in The Number 6 role (‘Freedom!’). It is also interesting that he was considering him for the role of The Prisoner, if it ever got made into a film (according to the rumours anyway).


The new village is more real than the old one (clothing/ vehicles etc). It is also more obviously hypocritical - that is, wants to know your secrets without revelling its own: It is ‘innocent’ - you are not (forgives its own sins but not those of others (the outsiders)).


I find the use of numbers interesting as they appear in houses, telephones, games (dice, cards etc), history with all its dates just as the future cannot be confined and defined, prisoners of course, ‘time’ and Maths, with all its implications of perfectionism (as things should be, if they worked by the rules, not imperfect reality as they do). 9/11 is interesting in this respect, if that is what the twin towers seen in the desert represent: 911 is the emergency number you phone in the states and 9 is upside down 6; the twin towers of course represent ‘11’. By the way, when you’re enjoying something, you fail to see the cracks in this respect. Continuity errors and mistakes in reality itself are ignored - when you’re bored with it, that is all you notice (TV aerials in the original series/ The two helicopter scenes in ‘Arrival’ where shots outside disclose headphones but inside aren’t being worn or vice-versa): If you’re unconscious that you’re unconscious (unaware that you’re unaware), then you’ll miss the clues that things exist outside the scope of your knowledge and want to (Taking the red or blue pill in The Matrix - forgetting or remembering the truth).


* Optimism (The oppiate of the masses as Stalin put it) is the wishful thinking that favours the house and not the individual punter (gambler).


The theme of the next episode (Darling) was betrayal and loyalty or union with and separation from (prejudice against/ love of). It is the ambivalence we all feel at times “Should I stay or should I go?” in the words of the song. Every movement is breaking our hold on somewhere/ some when and going somewhere else. Settling is putting down roots: This is brilliantly portrayed by Laurie Anderson in ‘Walking and Falling’ from Big Science, which makes you examine the very act of walking.


Love is choosing to stay (be loyal) as hate is dumping ‘response-ability’ and leaving (Choosing not to choose i.e. take). It is staying and facing whatever else comes to this spot and dealing with it (processing it as data or material - mental or physical analysis). Love is trust as opposed to panic (distrust/ running away). It leads us towards something as hate (fear) makes want to break free of it: Boredom is drifting away because we have no interest left in staying where we are (It no longer feeds our imagination or tastes): When things become too well known and trusted, they become invisible. This is why battlefield veterans say that during combat they feel more alive than at any other time in their lives and also why people gamble - the rush of risk versus the comfort of certainty.


Another part of the show dealt with dream and reality as a running theme, when an anomaly appeared, in the form of a hole in the ground (Alice’s Rabbit hole/ Black hole that swallows everything). It is a metaphor for the disintegration of a paradigm - a certain belief about/ in reality (Breakdowns and the disintegration of character armour i.e. certainty about who and what we are/ where we are and what constitutes reality - Mickey Rourke in ‘Angel Heart’/ Neo taking the red pill in ‘The Matrix’). It also covered how people deal with this in their search for answers and certainty to remove fear, spurred on by the unknown (nothingness as represented by the black, absorbing hole, drawing in things and our attention). Silly answers - in this case the weather are used to try to make sense of the phenomena, plus equally silly responses are used to handle it (Pigs might fly in this instance). The need to believe in an outside authority (parent) comes into play - an adult that can comfort us with lies and misinformation (Politician/ local government/ advertising/ God).


I personally find it ironical that Doctor Who’s new episode covers a Dream Lord (‘Is it real?’)versus the Time Lord (‘Is it time, Lord?’).


Back to the numbers theme, note how the series is composed of six episodes and that McGoohan said that there were originally six that mattered to him, others being tacked on because of the shows success. Note also that 415 said she was blind at six (‘Blind to’ might be more accurate, considering her admission at the end of the episode). She also said in one of the New York scenes that he had ‘Enchanting eyes’, which I find significant in light of her role in the village as a blind person, who’s supposed to not notice six in reality in case it is seen as an acknowledgment of his relationship to her in the outside world.


This brings me to another point about the deceptions played upon him in that at the end of certain episodes, the character lying the most to him admits this (His brother in the second episode and the girl here).


Lastly I like the motif of the cake. In the first episode we see No. 2 asking for one from the taxi driver and stuffing his face with it at the end and in this episode the taxi driver offering cake to his guests (‘Let them eat cake’ Marie Antoinette reference possibly or ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it’ i.e. you can’t preserve something externally and enjoy eating (analyzing) it internally).


Schizoid, the next episode, was about the responsibility of position and death as release from this tedious rigidity and certainty (The relaxed Two or denied self). Society runs on fear, which is defensive conformity. You must keep in line, you must be predictable (a creature of habit). You must be in control, to be who you are. This episode harked back to the original series and the cold war paranoia that fuelledCommunist society (spy versus spy). We betray those who don’t conform, even if we don’t conform, just to keep up appearances of loyalty to the state rather than ourselves (Careless talk costs lives/ Mum’s the word). Smoking is relaxing as is dying and drinking alcohol (Original series, cave scene with Eric Portman): Alcohol depresses, sending us back into childhood state of poor perception and lack of control. Drugs can either sedate or stimulate, sharpening our senses and helping us be more present (adult response-ability) or dulling down our perception and response time. Like ‘The Matrix’ we must chose - the red or blue pill.


The frightened want someone else to explain what is happening and to control it (Be a responsible adult to their child) because tey are too scared to act or sense on their own intiative (outside authority versus inner authority or ‘conscience’ - using your own eyes rather than listening to the opinions (beliefs) of others on what to think or do).


In this world insanity is being yourself - hence even Six wrestles with his conscience (hate or acceptance of things as they are). ‘Educated in apathy/ entertained by cruelty’ as Two put it (Bread and circus’s/ Shallow celebrity culture). To be whole is to be beyond violent separation from ourselves and others, and this grotesque parody we call life. One of the sad things about being awakened, is realizing others are not and some never will be - then quietly backing out of the nursery, so as not to disturb them and join them in the hell of taking this life too seriously i.e. being addicted to material reality.


The stranger in the mirror effect, comes from being somewhere new and not recognizing the self, seeing only ‘the other’ reflected back at us (What is that? Who is that? I cannot predict what they’ll do or if they’re hostile (outside comfort zone of certainty i.e. no insight): Is the ‘S’ logo for Sumakor, 2 backwards? Sumakor or soma core? (the body as prison for consciousness). This is the basis of the Doppleganger or Alter Ego as mentioned in Anthony Peake’s book ‘Is there life after Death?’ The underground (unconscious) is always hidden. It is the repressed self/ the suppressed other in society (the rebel that musn’t get out of hand: Conform, conform - do things my way. Conform, conform - do what I say!). All is duality - society runs on it (politics separation and unity or us and them - religion tries to melt this hardness or cold intellect down into an amorphous, simple 1-ness as government tries to force unity on everyone, through violence: Life is voluntary, death is obligatory.


This entire civilization is based upon analysis - be it mental or physical. It is taking things apart to understand them (separation into elements/ individual consciousness - cold, hard logic versus passion or putting things back together, to make them work (formlessness over form i.e. sex and violence (rebellion over the straight jacket of conformity).


No. 2 is disgusted by Man’s animal nature but it is a partnership of creation and destruction, that ensures constant change, constant motion/ emotion. Even in his relaxed state, he couldn’t help let out the truth of this as in his rigid state he did his best to suppress all truth (Ministery of Double-Speak): Noah’s Ark and ‘the animals’ coming in two by two. Man is the day shift of consciousness as woman is the unconscious one i.e. No. 2’s wife dreaming the world of The Village, while he ran it, physically keeping things running smoothly: The feminine principle and shamanism - The great mother Earth and Father sky.


I find it ironic that The New Village is a reclamation centre for human wrecks as the old one was for worn out spies (old minds - disillusioned with the current order or of no further use to it, so retired from active service and drained of useful information).


In the Prisoner finale - Checkmate, the struggle continues between fixed ideas and fluidity (creativity as opposed to memory). Freedom is allowing yourself and others to explore reality i.e. believe what they want/ do what they want, without restraint or criticism and accepting the consequences as an adult as opposed to enforcing conformity of thought and appearance on others and repressing the urge to change within oneself: The trendy (crazy) vanguard, charging into uncharted waters and the rearguard, holding onto old fashioned ideas (sane, certain, balanced). Death releases us from the straight jacket of life (conformity), allowing us to explore the new (be reborn in mind and body). In other words it’s all about ‘time’.


More than anything it is about losing your mind (memories and routines) in order to be spontaneous (insane/ unpredictable): The dizzy generosity of women versus the violent possessiveness of men (must know/ must have): Wannabe’s versus the old order. This explains our urge to justify our existence and maintain our hold on reality - that is our own right to be here (stay/ linger/ colonize - my way, my beliefs, my order).


It is the shaman’s role in life to bring these two worlds together (In dreams we all move between here and there because there is no distance or separation in sleep, between waking reality and unconsciousness): The abyss, represented by the holes, is the collective dream dissolving/ falling apart at the seems. ‘Door or beast?’ asks Number Two in his relaxed persona - letting go and going or holding onto the dream at all costs (defending it to the death).


Schizophrenia is trying to shut out that other reality, where we are back at square one i.e. the helpless child instead of the helpful adult - dependent, not independent (bottom of the ladder - the lowest of the low). Soul retrieval is trying to mend those broken parts of us that are lost, reconnecting us to them to make us whole again. 313 (unlucky for some) is not all there in the final scene. Just like 2’s wife - lost to his ambition (world/ empire building). 6’s humanity was his urge for freedom and nothing else (No compromise, despite what life threw at him, to convert him/ put him off the trail (journey) he was on.


By coincidence, Michael Moore’s ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ was on the same night in the UK (Wall Street/ The Twin Towers - wall as in obstruction and twin towers as in No. 11). It showed how Capitalism claimed Christian virtue for its greedy vice, reminding me of how Scientology claimed religious status for tax purposes in equal worship of the silver dollar (‘Trust in me, only me’ The snake in Disney’s Jungle Book). It contrasted Chrstianity with capitalism in the same way that No. 2 named 6 as ‘The 1’ (new saviour in the shaman’s dream). In other words we try to convert others, so that they can replace us within society and we can leave with a clear(ed) conscience (No. 2 as sacrificial lamb ‘I gave my life for you!’: The old becomes the new/ the child becomes the adult, assured of its place in society as once it stumbled on in doubt - trapped until someone else comes along to replace it in turn: Interesting that Jim Cazievel played Christ in Mel Gibson’s tortured version of ‘The Passion’ and that Gibson was McGoohan’s choice for the lead, in the projected film version of The Prisoner (More links in the chain, that makes The Prisoner what it was and is, within the public’s imagination).



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