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The Prisoner
Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

The Prisoner: Hammer Into Anvil The Prisoner
"Hammer Into Anvil"
TV episode
Written by Roger Woddis
Directed by Pat Jackson
Original air date: December 1, 1967


Number 6 attempts to end the reign of the current Number 2.


Read the complete story summary at Wikipedia


Notes from the Prisoner chronology


This episode is placed just a little later in the chronology than the original airdate would suggest, following "Many Happy Returns" instead of preceding it. If the Number 2 of this episode is meant to be Thorpe from "Many Happy Returns" (as suggested by the same actor portraying both; see Didja Know below), then it must take place after, otherwise Number 6 would have recognized Thorpe in England as a recent Number 2 in the Village.


Didja Know?


Patrick Cargill plays a particularly nasty (and paranoid) Number 2 in this episode. He also played Number 6's former agent friend Thorpe in "Many Happy Returns". It's not clear whether they are intended to be the same person.


Didja Notice?


Number 73 is a young woman who slashed her wrists while in the Village. Number 2 alleges that her husband had begun an affair with a woman named Mariah, though this may be misinformation given in his attempts to gain information about her husband from her. David Stimpson points out in his The Prisoner Dusted Down that the photo Number 2 gives to 73 purporting to show her husband and Mariah together is actually a still from the Danger Man episode "Don't Nail Him Yet" with actress Sheila Allen; Allen also appears in The Prisoner as Number 14 in "A. B. and C.".


This episode gives the impression the Village hospital is around the bend of the beach down from the stone boat, as Number 6 is seen walking along that pathway with the stone boat behind him when he hears the scream of Number 73 and runs off into the hospital, just in time to see her jump out of the upper story window of her room. But, according to most Village maps available, the hospital is in the opposite direction and quite a ways away, making it unlikely that someone would be able to hear a scream from there at the stone boat.


The driver of the Mini-Moke that brings Number 6 in for questioning to Number 2 is Number 14. He is seen to be an assistant to Number 2 here. Several other Number 14s have appeared in other stories.


At 8:02 on the Blu-ray, Number 2 speaks to Number 6 in German, "Du musst amboss oder hammer sein," correctly identifying it as a quote from Goethe. Number 6 correctly translates this as, "You must be anvil or hammer." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was a German writer and diplomat; the full quote attributed to him is “You must either conquer and rule or serve and lose, suffer or triumph, be the anvil or the hammer.” Goethe seems to imply the strength to the hammer here, but the famous English novelist George Orwell (1903-1950) reverses it, writing in his essay "Politics and the English Language", "In real life it is always the anvil that breaks the hammer, never the other way about." If Number 6 is the anvil as Number 2 tells him here, then Orwell was correct, as he brings about the fall of this particular Number 2 by the end of this episode in retribution for the death of Number 73.


At 9:12 on the Blu-ray, signs in the window of the general store read, "Music makes a quiet mind," "Music begins where words leave off" (also seen at the listening nook inside the store), and "Music says all". Notice also that in the close-up shot of the window, the "Music says all" sign has seemingly exchanged places with the "Music begins where words leave off" one was. The phrase "Music begins where words leave off" has appeared in several books about music, going back to at least the mid-19th Century.


The headline of the Tally Ho seen on the newspaper rack at the general store reads, "Increase Vigilance Call From New No. 2". The text of the article is seen briefly at 12:17 on the Blu-ray and can be found at David Stimpson's Prisoner blog and transcribed below.


Security of the Community

The new No. 2 has issued a call for Increased vigilance at all times. The security of the community must be protected.

"We must Constantly be on guard against enemies in our midst," he declared, giving a stern warning against possible subversion.

"The keynote on the hour is vigilance", said No. 2. "We do not necessarily know where our enemies are, or who they might be. Therefore it is a duty of us all to be on constant look out against traitors who, behind our back, seek to undermine and destroy us."

No. 2 warned that no mercy would be shown to those who, against the interests of the community, sabotage "our great achievements."

"Let those who think they can strike when our guard is down take heed," said No. 2. "We are never asleep. We will never relax our guard. We know there are those who believe they can get away with their plots and conspiracies. They will learn a sharp lesson."

"Not only the conspirators, but those who look the other way and do not report their suspicions would be treated as traitors," said No. 2.

"It is the duty of each one of us to fight this menace and those who know more than they tell are high on the list of guilty ones. No mercy will be shown to anyone who shirks his duty to report his neighbor's secrets. Vigilance is not only requested, it is ordered. Be vigilant day and night. Let us root out the conspirators. Security is the keyword of the moment. Security is the responsibility of us all. Security is our duty. Be vigilant or the consequences will be severe . No other warning will be given."


Two magazines seen on the newspaper rack are called Village Journal and Village Weekly. Later, at 32:01 on Blu-ray, the magazine Queen, about British high society, is seen on the rack, now known as Harper's Bazaar.



The clerk at the store, Number 112, is a different person from the one who appeared in "Arrival" and "Checkmate"; perhaps the first clerk was "terminated" from the job after his collusion with Number 6 in the latter episode?


The clerk charges Number 6 two units for a copy of the Tally Ho. Normally, the rag seems to be given out free from a dispensing spool on a push cart around the Village. And, although we never get much of an idea how much a work unit is worth in the series, two seems like a lot for a one-page newspaper! Though, later in the episode, Number 6 is charged three units for a mere 9-word personal ad to appear in the paper. Later again, the clerk charges him 42 units for a cuckoo clock.


The rack of musical record albums in the store has some additional options from those seen previously in "Many Happy Returns"; a Schönberg album (probably Arnold Schoenberg), Wagner & Schumann Duets (1964) by Lauritz Melchior (1890-1973) with Kirsten Flagstad (1895-1962) and Lotte Lehmann (1888-1976), The Italian Settecento 18th Century Intradas Sonatas, Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Annie Fischer's Schubert Piano Sonata No. 21 in B Flat Major (1960), Beyond the Sea (1964) by Frank Chacksfield, Gounod's Faust, Highlights from La Traviata (1958) by Verdi, and Georges Bizet's L'Arlésienne Suite by Davier (which Number 6 chooses to sample in the listening nook at the store). L'Arlésienne is an 1872 French play (The Girl from Arles) by Alphonse Daudet, from his short story, about a man who goes mad upon learning of his fiancé's infidelity. Georges Bizet (1838-1875) actually did compose the original music suite for L'Arlésienne, but I can find no conductor/composer by the name of Davier; it may be that Davier is a fictitious construct for the episode, as further evidenced by the font seen on the cover of the album...similar to the "village" font! And the center label on the record is seen at 12:49 on the Blu-ray to be the Village's penny-farthing logo. L'Arlésienne Suite by Davier


The store clerk tells Number 6 he has six copies of the L'Arlésienne Suite album, but when Number 6 insists on sampling them all, he appears to receive only four. At that, Number 6 listens to only three of them!


Number 6 writes out a fake message to the fictitious X.O.4 in order to lure and confuse Number 2.

message to X.O.4


Notice at 16:25 on the Blu-ray that the main door of Number 6's apartment begins to open before he has even begun to walk directly toward it! Is the automatic mechanism able to read his mind?


The man whom Number 2 calls in the laboratory appears to be Number 253. His assistant, seen shortly after, is Number 242.


At 20:03 on the Blu-ray, postcards are seen for sale at the booth near the cafe. Of course, as opined in the study of "Many Happy Returns", why would anyone need them? I don't imagine Village guests are allowed to mail them out to friends and relatives! 


The woman manning the booth near the cafe is Number 256. A couple different Number 256s are seen in "The Schizoid Man" and two others in "The General"!


Number 6 places a personal ad in the Tally Ho reading, "Hay mas mal en el aldea que se suena." As he tells the woman in the booth, it is Spanish from Cervantes' Don Quixote. Don Quixote is a 1605 Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. The quote means, "There is more evil in the village than is dreamed of."


The director of the psychiatric department at the Village hospital in this episode is seen to be Number 249. Two different Number 249s appeared in "The Schizoid Man" and "A Change of Mind".


The man conducting the Village band appears to be Number 262, but his badge is quite a mess! A different Number 262 is a poet in "A Change of Mind".

Number 26 badge


Number 6 requests the Village band to play "Farandole" from the L'Arlésienne Suite. "Farandole" is a dance number from the play.


At 25:46 on the Blu-ray, we see that the simple headstones in the Village graveyard are marked simply with the number designation of the deceased. Besides Number 73, the headstones of Numbers 143 and 113 are also seen. Numbers 113 and 113B were seen as seeming identical twins as a reporter and photographer in "Free for All". Number 6, after visiting Number 73's grave, is seen to pause at Number 113's. Later, he uses the alias of Number 113 in a note to himself, wishing himself a happy birthday (again, to confuse Number 2). Later, Number 2 tells the Supervisor that Number 113 was an old woman who died a month ago.

Number 73's headstone


At 26:15 on the Blu-ray, there appears to be a badge affixed to the microphone on the console in use by the Supervisor!

Supervisor's microphone


At 30:09 on the Blu-ray is something I never noticed before. The front door of the Green Dome, home of Number 2, has two peepholes built in, one high and one low. The low one must be for the diminutive Butler!

Green Dome door


    When Number 14 tells Number 6 he'd like to bust him down, Number 6 suggests a match of Kosho. We then see the two square off in a martial art-type hand-to-hand combat on a pair of side-by-side trampolines with a tank of water in between. This would seem to make Kosho a fictional form of martial art devised for the series. Frankly, it comes across a little silly! Number 6 also engages in a Kosho match in "It's Your Funeral".

   Complete rules to playing Kosho are printed on page 42 of the GURPS Prisoner sourcebook: Kosho rules


The man who is appointed the new Supervisor by Number 2 in this episode appears to be Number 60. Different Number 60s appear in "The Schizoid Man" and "A Change of Mind".


The cuckoo clock purchased by Number 6 at the general store must be a used one; it's roof is all scratched up (as seen at 33:41 on the Blu-ray). But then again, maybe Number 6 scratched it up intentionally to make it appear that he may have planted a bomb inside it, as Number 2 soon fears.


At 34:13 on the Blu-ray there is a bluish-green carrier and a metal bucket on the floor of the backseat of the Mini-Moke that weren't there just seconds earlier.


At 34:22 on the Blu-ray, there appears to be some bird seed inside the box to attract the pigeon, which wasn't there when Number 6 set the trap a minute earlier!


The bomb disposal technician who dismantles the cuckoo clock is Number 243. Two different Number 243s appeared in "The Schizoid Man" and "The General".


Number 6 sends a message by pigeon of, "20, 60, 40, 47, 67, 81, 91, 80".


At 37:25 on the Blu-ray, a white flag with the Village's penny-farthing logo is seen.


At 37:37 on the Blu-ray, one of the Supervisor's monitoring men appears to be Number 23. Another of the monitoring men appears to be Number 50. Several different Number 23s appeared in "Free for All", "Checkmate", and "The Chimes of Big Ben". Another Number 50 appears in "The Chimes of Big Ben".


The pigeon note Number 2 opens at 37:56 on the Blu-ray is different from the one Number 6 sent! Though the numbers are the same, the type and color of ink is different, the punctuation is different, and it is a different piece of paper!


The Morse code signal Number 6 sends to a non-existent accomplice turns out to be lines from the nursery rhyme "Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake, Baker's Man".


The female computer operator at 41:02 on the Blu-ray appears to be Number 125. A different Number 125 is a doctor in "The General".

Unanswered Questions

Is the Number 2 of this episode the same person as Number 6's former agent acquaintance in "Many Happy Returns"? It might be argued that Number 6 is so successful in manipulating and breaking Number 2 here because he knew the man and his weaknesses back in England before his retirement. If it is the same man, it would seem he was not punished too severely for his failures here, as he appears again (as Thorpe, not Number 2) in I Am Not a Number!

Memorable Dialog

You must be anvil or hammer.wav
who do they think they're dealing with?.wav
I want this deciphered right away.wav
they do not like failure here.wav

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