Recap / The Prisoner E 17 Fall Out

After his victory over Number Two, Number Six is offered a chance to meet the secret rulers of the Village, and have all his and our questions finally answered.

This episode provides examples of:

  • As the Good Book Says...: Number Forty-Eight sings - almost obsessively - the song "Dem Bones," which refers to the Book of Ezekiel where Ezekiel preached to the dead and resurrected them.
    Number Forty-Eight (keeps ringing a bell): Now hear the word of the Lord...
  • Book Ends: The show ends as it began, with Number Six driving towards us, implying he's caught in a loop or stuck in the same identity as The Prisoner.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • Number Forty-Eight looks into the camera a few times, most notably at the end when he acknowledges the audience after he escapes.
    • Number Two directs a "Be seeing you" at the camera as he sinks out of sight.
    • The on-screen acknowledgement of the Hotel Portmeirion at the start of the episode qualifies as this as it's unusual to pull the curtain back in this way.
  • Discontinuity: Maybe. A lot of what we find out at the end doesn't jibe with some of the clues we saw in earlier episodes. (Especially regarding the location of the Village, which explicitly contradicts an earlier episode]]. Which was probably MacGoohan's intent.
  • The End... Or Is It?: This is why we can't claim this has a Bittersweet Ending or Downer Ending. The Village itself falls after the rebel force of Six, Two, Forty-Eight and the Butler destroys the command room and launches Number One's rocket, but the episode ends with Forty-Eight seeking a vagabond life on the street, Number Two returning to Parliament, and Number Six returning home - where the door opens for the Butler just like the doors did at the Village - to just get back in his customized car to go driving off as he did at the series' beginning. It doesn't help that the end credits doesn't name MacGoohan, it simply calls him "The Prisoner" implying he still hasn't escaped.
  • Enemy Mine: After it being hinted at somewhat in the previous episode, the final Number Two fully allies with Number Six.
  • Funny Background Event: During the return to London, Number Six and the Butler are approached by a curious policeman who confronts Six while the Butler (and the camera) are on the other side of a zebra crossing. While the Butler silently looks on, Number Six pantomimes the entire escape sequence from the Village while the soundtrack for "Dem Bones" plays in the background. Six then leaves the bemused policeman and rejoins the Butler; next we see, they're running down the street, but it's only in order to catch a bus, not because they're being chased.
  • Gainax Ending: This was actually the Trope Codifier long before Gainax showed up on the scene, as its Mind Screw ending confused and enraged audiences and left people guessing for decades afterward.
  • Grand Finale: One of the first in television history, and certainly the first to throw everyone a huge curveball about the entire show.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Number Two, who turns against his masters and is labelled as one "who bites the hand that feeds him."
    • The Butler, who already turned to serve Number Six in the previous episode and continues to serve him now. (At least so we assume; he doesn't seem at all surprised when the door to No. 6's flat in London opens on its own...
    • Number Forty Eight, who was brought before the Village in judgment for his open cultural rebellion as a youthful offender. When Number Six encourages the young man to not "wear himself out," Forty Eight immediately sides with him.
  • Mood Whiplash: We go from the sparse, minimalist and intense episode "Once Upon A Time" to this gaudy, action-packed and intense episode.
    • Occurs within the episode itself, as it goes from tense and political to outright silly as the "Dem Bones" musical number begins, and then back to tense and political again.
  • Musical Episode: Comes close to it, when Number Forty-Eight suddenly breaks into song and a musical number based around "Dem Bones" begins. However, the musical background appears to be diegetic and is in fact taken from a well-known recording of the song, rather than Forty-Eight himself singing it.
  • No Name Given: Played with. A major concept of the series deals with the loss of individuality incurred by numbering everyone in the Village. In this episode, Six is finally allowed to be an individual, but instead of revealing his real name, he is instead simply referred to as "Sir", with the closing caption simply calling the character "Prisoner".
  • The Reveal:
    • We finally get one answer with this episode: outdoor filming was done at the Portmeirion Resort in Gwynedd, North Wales. Which explains how the Butler is able to drive the heroic Number Six, Number Two, and Number Forty-Eight straight from The Village to London. It's not as if Portmeirion was totally unknown to the general public - it had been a popular tourist village for three decades at this point - but outside the UK, that's another story.
    • Number Six unmasks Number One... to reveal a monkey's mask. And then he removes that mask to reveal... himself, that he had been Number One the whole time. That sound you heard back in 1968 was everyone's heads exploding from the Mind Screw.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The technicians give Number Two a shave and haircut before reviving him. This was because this episode was filmed about a year after "Once Upon a Time", and actor Leo McKern had ditched his beard and long hair in the interim.
    • According to the show histories, MacGoohan had to bang out the script for this episode in only a few days due to the head of ITC cancelling production of the series on short notice; as a result, Kenneth Griffith, who plays the President, reportedly had to write his own dialogue, which says a lot considering his is virtually the only voice heard in any substantial fashion prior to No. 2's resurrection.
  • Rule of Symbolism
  • The '60s: The 60s counterculture is symbolized by Number Forty Eight, a young man dressed in the mod style and rebelling against the norms "because he must."
    • The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" is playing on jukeboxes along the ramp that the Supervisor escorts Number Six and the Butler. And during the dramatic shootout at the end during Number Six's final(?) escape.
  • Uncredited Role: Technically, MacGoohan as Number Six (and Number One). Although he receives screen credit for writing and directing the episode, at no point is he credited for his role as Number Six (in the ending sequence, following Leo McKern, Alexis Kanner and Angelo Muscat being credited on-screen as they take their final bows, MacGoohan is simply identified as "Prisoner". (MacGoohan also goes foregoes his usual executive producer credit, too.)
  • Undercrank: Employed when Number Six and the Butler race to catch a bus in London. Coming right after a somewhat "still" moment (a long shot of Six describing his escape to a police officer as the Butler watches motionless), the effect is (possibly unintentionally, possibly intentionally) comedic.
  • The Unreveal: We still don't know why the Prisoner resigned.
    • We never learn who Number One is or why he looks identical to Number Six.
    • Despite the episode's theme of the individual winning out, we still never learn Number Six's real name.
  • Wham Episode: Damn.
  • You Look Familiar: Number Forty Eight looks exactly like The Kid from "Living in Harmony" and as a photographer from "The Girl Who Was Death." Unavoidable because the last set of episodes (covering all three) were rushed to production and actor Alexis Kanner was simply on hand to fill needed roles. MacGoohan did want Kanner to play the role of Forty Eight. It could be argued that Kanner's character might well be the same man from the other two episodes, except for the fact that the one in "Living in Harmony" dies right in front of No. 6. Then again, so did No. 2 in "Once Upon a Time".
    • Actor Kenneth Griffith was just in "The Girl Who Was Death" as both the mad scientist of Six's children's story and as Number Two. In this episode he's the authoritative President of the secret Council running the Village. Given that the role of No. 2 in the series was shown to be somewhat fluid, there's nothing saying that the President isn't the same man.