Not Just a Number, Episode 17, Fall Out

In the final episode of the series and the penultimate of our podcast on The Prisoner, we discuss "Fall Out".

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The Fleming Foundation

5 Responses

  1. Allen Wilson says:

    What I want to know is why did he leave in his Lotus after dropping the butler off at his apartment. Is he finally going on the trip he was about to take when he was abducted, or is he going to go fetch his girlfriend, or both? If it were me I would be leaving to disappear and never be heard from again. The butler could have the house. And why does the door of the flat open and close automatically? One more reason to head for the hills.

  2. Jacob Johnson says:

    I can see why the episode may have disappointed viewers thinking everything was going to be sorted out and explained, but I was prepared to expect something unusual. This series is a very funny one I think, subtle little jokes. The contrast of All You Need Is Love with the slaughter at the end was a great send up of the (literal) pipe dreams of the ‘ippies. Oh No! I don’t believe it… Ray Collins sang.

    I wondered if the fact that there was about five or six globes on the table in the room with number one was a comment on the absurd redundancy of the instruments in the village.

  3. Michael Strenk says:

    I am tempted to think that the repetition of Love as Number Six is being led to Number One is a plea for clemency from his jailers as he has emerged victorious from his encounter with Number Two and as they have treated him very badly up to this point. Trivial, no doubt, but interesting is that Leo McKern had been involved in some cinematographic leavings of the Beatles, which I have never seen, but know about because I am interested in McKern.

    I also found it interesting that it is the delegate labeled “anarchist” who rises to speak in condemnation of the wild youth. Both rebels are restrained as pistons in the machine to which Dr. Fleming alludes in his comments regarding the labeling of the delegates to the assembly. Both are really a part of the whole. Number 2 can spit in the eye of the Sauronic Number 1 but is joyfully led to his place afterwards.

    Number 1 would seem to be the bomb, which so preoccupied us all during the cold war. “Which side are you on?”, seems to be a superfluous question when both sides so completely served the side of worldly power the symbol of which was the bomb.

    Number Two condemns himself for having resisted for so short a time while flattering Number Six for his purity. Both attitudes bring up a couple of major themes repeated in the Psalms.

    During Number Six’s speech he is constantly affirmed and interrupted whenever he says I. He becomes so flustered that they will not hear the rest that he begins to shout and rant looking much like Hitler. This seems to me to be a collective affirmation and deification of the individual. The message is clearly condemnatory so I cannot see how libertarians see the series as being an endorsement of their error.

    Hilarious is the last sight of Alexis Kanner who, failing to hitch a ride in one direction, crosses the road and tries to get a lift going the other way.

    Number Six is clearly, like the other rebels, simply going back to his old life, the symbol of which is the illusion of freedom that he gets from racing about in his silly little car. The door to the the house opens to the butler automatically, just like in the village, so that he can enter and make Number Six comfortable in his new/old prison. This seems to be the message, that we are all prisoners in this life, as both Mr. Heiner and Dr. Fleming indicate.

    I’m not sure how much conscious thought went into the writing of the episode, but, despite some annoying aspects, I think that it succeeds admirably in wrapping up the series.

  4. Allen Wilson says:

    McGoohan finally meets number 1, and it turns out to be himself, The I, the ego. That is what enslaves us all, no less so the classical liberals who preach of the “individual”. That is the “I”, number 1.

    Now we understand the big laugh during the intro, “I am not a number, I am a free man!” “Ha!, Hahahahahahahahah!”

    The village really is society as a whole, which can function the way the village does even if there is no sinister conspiracy to control every one as in this show. It has to function that way at least to some degree if everyone is imprisoned by his own ego.

    “Non Serviam” said the first individual. In order to begin to (for lack of a better word) transcend the ego, we must learn to serve. Then it doesn’t matter too much what society does.

    But of course we all fall short.

  5. Brent says:

    According to Dr. Kugel, whom I had for an undergrad Old Testament survey course, there’s an old midrash on the sacrifice of Isaac that serves to uphold Isaac as a willing participant in his own sacrifice. But where can it be shown that Isaac even knew that he was the designated victim, much less consented? In English translations of Genesis 22, Abraham says, “God will provide the lamb for the sacrifice, my son,” but the Hebrew, which, of course, did not have commas and periods, also supports the rendering, “God will provide. The lamb for the sacrifice is my son.” I’m sure it’s from remembering this story that I hear the opening sequence not as “Prisoner: ‘Who is Number 1?’ Number 2: ‘You are Number 6!'” but “Prisoner: ‘Who is Number 1?’ Number 2: ‘You are, Number 6!'” The answer has been screamed at us at the beginning of every episode but the first.