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The Prisoner
Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

enik1138-at-popapostle-dot-com
The Prisoner: Fall Out The Prisoner
"Fall Out"
TV episode
Written and Directed by Patrick McGoohan
Original air date: February 1, 1968

 

Surviving the Degree Absolute, Number 6 is given a choice: his freedom or replacing Number 1.

 

Read the complete story summary at Wikipedia

 

Notes from the Prisoner chronology

 

This episode takes place immediately after "Once Upon a Time" and is the final episode of the TV series. Three novels and a DC Comics mini-series follow it.

 

Didja Know?

 

Kenneth Griffith (playing the President) is reported to have written his own dialog at McGoohan's request, as he was pressed for time in completing the script. Besides being an actor, Griffith was a writer and documentary film maker.

 

Didja Notice?

 

This episode does not open with the usual opening titles sequence, but instead shows flashback scenes of the events of "Once Upon a Time", plus a flyover of the Village. A credit to the Hotel Portmeirion, where the Village exteriors were shot, and its builder, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, is finally given during these opening titles. The Hotel Portmeirion

 

At 4:20 on the Blu-ray (during the opening titles), a normal automobile is seen parked in the Portmeirion grounds near the Old Peoples' Home.

 

Number 6 speaks very little throughout this episode.

 

Number 6 has a five o'clock shadow when he asks to see Number 1 and is led down the corridor by the Supervisor at the end of "Once Upon a Time". But he is clean-shaven as his walk down the corridor continues here!

 

Notice that Number 6 is given back the clothes he wore when he was gassed and kidnapped from his home in "Arrival", the Supervisor saying, "We thought you would be happier as yourself." But are these his original clothes or just an identical set? Recall that in "Arrival", the doctor at the hospital claims that his old clothes have been burned.

 

The mannequin that is wearing Number 6's old clothes before he takes them back has a face modeled after Number 6 himself. Possibly it's the same bust seen in "The General", sculpted by the Professor's wife.

 

When Number 6 enters the room where his mannequin and clothes are awaiting him, why are all the hangers on the empty clothing racks all swinging on the poles? It may be an indication that all the delegates in the assembly chamber have just grabbed their robes for the trial.
Number 6 bust in "Fall Out" Number 6 bust in "The General"
Number 6 mannequin in "Fall Out" Number 6 bust in "The General"

 

The song that plays as Number 6 is led down the cave tunnel to the assembly chamber is "All You Need is Love" by the Beatles, which was released in 1967, the same year the episode was shot. The opening music of the song is the familiar march from the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise".

 

As Number 6 is led down the tunnel, several jukeboxes are seen set into the cave wall, with album cover images of a number of popular performers of the time or the past, such as: Al Jolson, Shirley Bassey (The Spectacular Shirley Bassey), Lesley Gore (Girl Talk), The Beatles, music from the musical play Oliver!, and The Beatles' Second Album.

 

The jukebox models in the tunnel are the following: Seeburg LPC480, Seeburg SS160 Stereo Showcase, Seeburg Discotheque, and a Wurlitzer 2300.

 

The door of the assembly chamber has the words "WELL COME" on it, perhaps meant to counterpoint the "WAY OUT" door seen in the parking garage in London as Number 6 storms into the agency offices to resign in "Arrival". Oddly, perhaps, is that "WELL COME" is on the inside of the chamber door, suggesting a "welcome" to the world beyond it (the Village).

 

At 5:36 on the Blu-ray, men in surgical gowns can be seen working within a thin enclosure of metal pipes. They are presumably prepping for the resurrection of Number 2, seen minutes later in the episode.

 

At 5:45 on the Blu-ray, the hooded delegates can be seen seated behind the President's dais. They are not clapping their hands yet, but the clapping can be heard anyway, which carries into the next close-up shot of them clapping.

 

The delegates all wear a half-black, half-white comedy and tragedy mask. Number 1 is also seen wearing one later on.

 

The hooded assembly members seen have name plaques to indicate an aspect of society/citizenry/governance they represent: Welfare, Pacifists, Activists, Nationalists, Recreation, Anarchists, Reactionists, Therapy, Defectors, Identification, Security, Education, Youngsters, Health, Labour, Entertainment, Old Folk, Unitarians, Rehabilitation, Records, Committee, Govern, and others that are too far away to read. Possibly these terms also identify aspects of residents incarcerated in the Village. The order in which the name plaques are placed changes a bit in different shots!

 

A giant seesaw identical to the one seen in the Village Control Room is seen in the cavern here...identical, that is, except that the two men on it are seated at machine guns, not monitoring devices! The seesaw is still most of the time, but is moving in some random shots!

 

The Supervisor dons a robe, hood, and mask and takes his place with the others...he behind the plaque identifying him as representing Identification. Notice that the seat behind is still empty, for Security; he will be presenting Number 6 to the assembly in a few moments.

 

The actor portraying the President is the same as portrayed Number 2/Professor Schnipps in "The Girl Who Was Death" (Kenneth Griffith). It's not clear whether it's meant to be the same person.

 

The President is never actually called by that title in the episode; only the end credits reveal it.

 

The "eye" of Number 1 in the assembly chamber is similar to the giant electronic eye seen in the Control Room of the Village in a number of episodes. Is this an indication that Number 1 was (or, at least, could have been) watching events in the Control Room at all times?

 

When the President demands to have Number 2 resuscitated, the large monitor screen in the cavern shows reverse-played scenes of his death from "Once Upon a Time".

 

In the assembly room, the Butler obeys the commands of the President. In "Once Upon a Time", he silently switched his allegiance to Number 6 once Number 6 had turned the tables on Number 2. In the study of that episode, I speculated that he might be conditioned to follow the orders of whoever is in charge.

 

The strange device seen on the large monitor screen while Number 2 is being resuscitated appears to be the same one that was part of the speed learning broadcast in "The General".

 

Number 48 is portrayed by the same actor who portrayed Number 8, the Kid, in "Living in Harmony" (Alexis Kanner). Since the two characters have different numbers, and since Number 8 seemingly committed suicide, it seems they must be intended as separate characters. Is it possible that the number designation of Village residents can be altered? Perhaps Number 8 was resurrected and given the new number of 48 (as Number 2 is resurrected in this episode)? Or, maybe, this is another case of doubles, or twins, in the Village; after all, there is an exact duplicate of the repairman in the form of a gardener in "Arrival", and there is the double of Number 6, Number 12, in "The Schizoid Man".

 

Number 48 wears clothing suggestive of the mod subculture of British youth in the 1960s.

 

The song sung intermittently by Number 48 throughout his trial is "Dem Bones", a Christian spiritual song written by James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938). For some reason, the assembly members grow rowdy and physical when Number 48 begins singing "Dem Bones" and have to be admonished to calm down. The recorded version of the song played a bit later in the trial is performed by the Four Lads, a Canadian quartet popular in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s; when this recorded version is played, the assembly members (and even the President and the guards) seem to enjoy it, clapping and moving to the beat.

 

At 13:44 on the Blu-ray, notice that the Number 1 designation appears behind and next to Number 6's head. Perhaps an indication that Number 6 is Number 1, as suggested under the mask of Number 1 later in the episode? Recall also that our hero lived/lives at #1 Buckingham Place in London (see "Arrival").

Number 1?

 

The President seems to communicate with the hidden Number 1 without words spoken by Number 1. All we hear are beeps and whistles from Number 1 as the electronic eye glows and pulses, but the President seems to understand and even respond to it.

 

Number 48 is pronounced guilty by the President before the charges are presented to the court. He is charged with: questioning the decisions of those voted in to govern; aspects of speech and dress not in accordance with general practice; and refusal to observe, wear, or respond to his number. It's almost as if he's the proxy for charges that could be leveled against Number 6.

 

The delegate who reads the charges against Number 48 is the representative of the Anarchists. Ironic, in that the charges are all things that anarchists would embrace as the rights of the individual, free from government.

 

When Number 48 is carried off to the tube elevator by the guards, his cross-legged posture is the opposite (left over right) of what it was as he was seated before being grabbed.

 

The auto-shave and -haircut given to the resurrected Number 2 was necessary due to actor Leo McKern having a different look for a play in which he was then starring than he did when shooting the earlier episodes "The Chimes of Big Ben" and "Once Upon a Time".

 

Number 2 claims that, back in the world, "It has been my lot in the past to wield a not inconsiderable power, having the ear of statesmen, kings and princes of many lands. Governments have been swayed, revolutions nipped in the bud at a word from me in the right place and at a propitious time."

 

Could Number 1 be a computer? Number 2 indicates that even he has never met Number 1 face-to-face. And notice that when he finally confronts Number 1 verbally in the assembly room, he says, "Whoever you are...whatever you are..."

 

At 26:57 on the Blu-ray, the London home of Number 6 is seen to be for sale by Lageu & Son Real Estate Agents. This is a fictitious business. The name comes from set dresser John Lageu.

 

It seems odd that Number 6's London home would even be up for sale at this point, considering the powers-that-be obviously kept the place in hand up till now, as seen in "Many Happy Returns" and "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling".

 

The music that plays as Number 6 rises from his seat and takes the proffered key to his home, passport, and money is "Rag March" by J. Arel and J. C. Petit.

 

As the President leads Number 6 to the elevator tube to where he will meet Number 1, the music "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" plays. 

 

The tubes holding Numbers 48 and 2 are labeled Orbit 48 and Orbit 2, respectively. But why? Were they to be shot into space aboard the rocket that ultimately lifts off without them? In the audio commentary by Eric Mival (music editor) and Noreen Ackland (editor) on the Blu-ray, Mival remarks that the rocket was said by the producers to be headed for another planet! This was left over from the original idea of the closing credits of "Arrival", where the small wheel of the penny-farthing turns into Earth and the large wheel into the universe (see comments about the original edit of "Arrival" in PopApostle's study of that episode). pennyfarthing as Earth and universe

 

A couple of empty tubes that are labeled simply "Orbit" are also seen.

 

The interior rocket set appears to be a simple redressing of the lighthouse set from "The Girl Who Was Death"; even the aerial map of London is still in place (the circular center table holding the Earth globes).

 

The music playing as Number 6 begins the rocket launch countdown is "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" by Johann Sebastian Bach, 1833.

 

Some of the knobs and switches on the rocket's control panel have the Sangamo Weston Ltd. brand name on them. This company manufactured parts from 1921-1976.

 

At 39:59 on the Blu-ray, the President is clearly speaking into a microphone, but no words are heard.

 

Among the throng of people fleeing from the assembly room are a number of men in wetsuits!

 

The countdown clock inside the rocket control room shows it is a Readout Count Down System MK II made by S.F.P. Ltd. I've been unable to confirm the existence of this company at the time, but it looks to be an actual off-the-shelf component.

 

The familiar Village helicopter with registration number F-BNKZ is seen to take off from the Village during the evacuation several times! A number of other copters are also seen flying off, in stock footage of live or miniature model shots.

 

In the numerous shots of the fleeing Villagers, many of the extras can be seen smiling during the panicked run.

 

At 41:15 on the Blu-ray, as numerous helicopters are seen lifting off from the Village, the tower next to Number 6's bungalow is missing!

Village tower is missing

 

In a stock shot of a helicopter lifting off from the Village at 42:09 on the Blu-ray, some Villagers can be seen still calmly sitting at tables in front of the Old Peoples' Home and playing in the pool!

 

As the truck crashes through the gate at 42:44 on the Blu-ray, it is clearly not the Butler driving...not to mention the steering wheel is on the wrong side in this obviously flipped shot! The truck is a Scammell Highwayman.

 

As the rocket launches off from the Village at 42:59 on the Blu-ray, the overlay of the rocket film footage can be vaguely seen over the buildings it is supposed to be behind. The rocket footage is actually that of a Blue Streak ballistic missile.

rocket overlapping

 

The song that starts to play during the rocket launch sequence is "I, Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (I Like You Very Much)", performed by Carmen Miranda.

 

It looks as if at least a couple of Rovers manage to surface before its fount of origin seems to fail. What happened to these Rovers? Are they, perhaps, still guarding the empty Village?

 

In the aerial shot of the evacuated Village at 43:43 on the Blu-ray, a couple of figures can still be seen moving around in front of the Old Peoples' Home. Another standard automobile is also seen in this shot.

 

At 43:54 on the Blu-ray, three figures are seen sitting on the hillside as the Scammell truck makes its escape.

 

At 44:11 on the Blu-ray, a man driving on the highway turns on the radio and "Dem Bones" is playing once again.

 

At 44:50 on the Blu-ray, the escaping Scammell truck is seen to be driving on the A20, with a sign stating 27 miles to London. This would tend to suggest that the Village is not far from London and the A20, probably on the eastern coastline of England, south of London! But in "Many Happy Returns", Number 6 discovers the Village while flying over the ocean off the coast of Morocco! So which is it?? Does the Village mystically move around the globe like the island on the 2004-2010 TV series Lost?

 

At 44:56 on the Blu-ray, notice that the mobile cell has two skylights!

skylights

 

As the Scammell truck drives through London at 45:28 on the Blu-ray, it passes by Trafalgar Square. An advertisement for the 1967 film Dr. Doolittle playing at the Odeon can be seen in the background.

 

The motorcycle police officer stops the truck on what is obviously the A3211 road, as the Hungerford Bridge is seen in the background to the north and Big Ben is seen to the south.

 

Number 2 walks all the way to the opposite side of Westminster Palace, looking up at Victoria Tower (the opposite corner from Big Ben, aka Elizabeth Tower), before entering through the Peers' Entrance of the palace.

 

Number 2 walks into Westminster Palace (the Houses of Parliament). Is that where he worked before his abduction to the Village? Or is he going in to straighten things out with some person or office that was in charge of the Village, so that he and his new escaped friends will be bothered no longer?

 

The police officer apparently followed Number 6 and the Butler all the way over towards Victoria Tower before confronting them about the Scammell truck left on the side of A3211. Why would he let them walk so far away in the first place? We can't hear the conversation in the distance as we witness it from the Butler's viewpoint, but Number 6 is gesticulating to the officer, seemingly explaining their escape from the Village and the launch of the rocket there. Then he gestures towards the Palace entrance and leaves the officer behind, as if telling him that the man once called Number 2 is inside taking care of the matter for them.

 

Number 6 and the Butler seemingly abandon the Scammell truck on the side of the A3211, as they are seen catching a bus instead. Again, it may be that Number 2 is taking care of the matter somewhere in the offices of Parliament.

 

At 47:17 on the Blu-ray, the bus that drives past the camera does not have a rear entrance for passengers. But when Number 6 and the Butler board in another shot seconds later, they board by the rear entrance.

 

At 47:52 on the Blu-ray, a Securicor truck drives past Number 48 as he tries to hitch a ride. Securicor was a security business in the UK from 1935-2004.

 

As they walk down the sidewalk towards Number 6's home, notice that the Butler takes the lead and stops at Number 6's Lotus Seven parked in front, gesturing as if presenting the vehicle to him. This seems to indicate that the Butler already knows the location of Number 6's home.

 

At 48:20 on the Blu-ray, notice that a hearse drives by as Number 6 is about to climb into his Lotus Seven. It is the same make and model (Austin Princess Limousine Hearse) as the one used by the powers-that-be to capture him in "Arrival" and which appears in "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling"! Does this mean they are tailing him already? The one seen here has a different license plate, 289 ALW, as opposed to TLH 858, but that doesn't mean it's not from a fleet of such vehicles used for tailing and kidnapping. It seems like it must have been placed in the shot deliberately to add a spook factor for the viewer! (Number 6 doesn't react to it, because he does not know that type of vehicle had anything to do with his past abduction.)

 

Once again, we see that Number 6's London home has the address, #1 (as seen in its past appearances in "Arrival", "Many Happy Returns", and "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling").

 

Notice that the powers-that-be have rigged the front door of Number 6's home to open automatically, just like his apartment door in the Village! Would he really want a reminder of his time in the Village? Besides, why did they give him the key to his place (as seen earlier in the assembly room) if he doesn't need to use it? And does it necessarily open automatically for the Butler as it does? Did they know ahead of time that he would be accompanying Number 6 home and becoming his manservant? Is this all really just another elaborate plot to get Number 6 on their side?

 

As the episode is drawing to a close, our final quartet of characters are identified by the actors' names...except for Number 6, who is identified only as "Prisoner"! Is this meant as an indication that he is still a prisoner in some way? Might it be a hint that the whole series is sort of an allegorical autobiography of Patrick McGoohan himself? From all accounts, McGoohan's personality was like his character's in many ways, always demanding to do things his own way, chafing against authority, and possibly even recognizing his own tremendous ego as a fault he has difficulty overcoming, possibly to the point of becoming a prisoner to his own faults.

 

At 49:08 on the Blu-ray, it appears that the former Number 2 is heading in to work at Westminster Palace, wearing a brand new suit and bowler; he must have gone home to change or went straight to a tailor and back after his initial entrance to the Palace earlier. The statue he walks past is Richard Coeur de Lion (Richard the Lionheart), Richard I, King of England at the end of the 12th Century; the statue is in the Old Palace Yard of Westminster Palace.

 

The episode ends with our hero driving his Lotus Seven towards the camera, with a thunderclap playing on the soundtrack; it is, in fact, the same two shots of him driving to deliver his resignation at the beginning of "Arrival" and seen in the opening titles of almost every episode.

 

The usual closing scene of Number 6's face covered over with slamming-closed cell doors does not appear here, as Number 6 is, seemingly, now free.

 

At the very end of the end credits sequence, Rover does not appear as usual; the image stays on that of the completed penny-farthing. This is presumably an indication that our hero no longer has to worry about being herded or captured by the Village guardian.

 

The events depicted in the Shattered Visage comic book mini-series, put an entirely different spin on the events of this episode and "Once Upon a Time".


Unanswered Questions

What is the intent behind the repeated use of the word "I" throughout this episode?
  "No. 1 was depicted as an evil, governing force in this Village. So, who is this No. 1? We just see the No. 2's, the sidekicks. Now this overriding, evil force is at its most powerful within ourselves and we have constantly to fight it, I think, and that is why I made No. 1 an image of No. 6. His other half, his alter ego." — Patrick McGoohan in 1977
   
What is the significance of the black-and-white, comedy-and-tragedy masks? I think it goes back to the idea that our individualism is both a freedom and prison.
   
What is the significance of the ape mask worn by Number 1 under the black-and-white mask? Possibly it is meant to suggest that Number 6 is seeing the primitive part of his own mind in action.
   
Who is Number 1?
  The face of Number 1 presented here is that of Number 6 himself, though he acts in what might be called a deranged manner. The allegorical explanation is that we are all our own enemy, our own Number 1. Other fan speculation on this episode is that Number 1 is another double of Number 6 (as seen in the form of Number 12 in "The Schizoid Man"); Number 1 is John Drake from Danger Man/Secret Agent; Number 1 is Patrick McGoohan (as the creator and executive producer of the series, he was ultimately in charge of everything that happened to Number 6); Number 1 was a drug-induced hallucination (Shattered Visage more-or-less follows this idea, combined with a psychological break experienced by Number 6 in being defeated by the Degree Absolute and accepting a new number...Number 1); Number 1 was a robot double of Number 6 (in I Am Not a Number!, the Number 1 of the somewhat different Village in that novel is a robot in the likeness of an old woman).
   
What does the repeat of our hero's driving scene from "Arrival" (and the usual opening titles) signify? Does it means the cycle begins again and he will return as a prisoner to the Village? Again, I think it is meant to reinforce that we are all always prisoners of our own egos. It may also, in the context of the series, be meant to suggest (as the automatic door on his home also does) that he is never free of many aspects of the Village in the modern society we live in.

Memorable Dialog

humanity is not humanized without force.wav
the right of an individual to be individual.wav
give it to me, baby.wav
the bones is yours.wav
a different kettle of fish.wav
I resisted for so short a time.wav
a position of power second only to one.wav
did you ever meet Number 1?.wav
you'll hypnotize me no longer.wav
he has survived intact and secure.wav
we need you.wav
we plead for you to lead us.wav

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