Recap / The Prisoner E 6 The General

Number Six sees sinister implications in a Village plan for mass education. A local professor who teaches there and his wife answer to someone called "The General." Meanwhile, Six makes an actual ally in the Village called Number Twelve who is worried there is a plot which could expand the Village's influence tremendously. This turns out to be a computer which is capable of brainwashing large numbers of people via a hypnotic green beam and instilling a vast amount of rote knowledge.

  • Anachronic Order: This episode depicts the Number Two played by Colin Gordon as confident and authoritative, while the earlier-broadcast "A, B & C" depicted him as a neurotic wreck terrified of his superiors. A common fan interpretation is that this episode occurs first and that its events explain the character's mental deterioration in the other.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Why?"
  • Bittersweet Ending: Six manages to destroy the General with a Logic Bomb but the Professor and Twelve are killed in the process.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Number Twelve is terrified of the Village's masters getting the ability to do this to whole segments of the population.
    • As Number Six points out to Number Two, the "education program" would essentially turn everybody into "cabbages," lined up a row and unable to think for themselves.
  • Call-Back: The episode has a bust of Leo Mc Kern's Number 2.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Number Twelve. Depending on which episode order you go by, he's the first warden working with the Village to team up with Number Six in exposing a Village plot.
  • Logic Bomb: Six drops one of these on the General. This episode may well be the Trope Codifier for the "open-ended abstract philosophical question" version of this trope as opposed to the "logical paradox" one.
  • Meaningful Name: Number Twelve turns out to be a moral equal to Number Six: "Six of One, Half-Dozen to Another". He collaborates with Six to end a project that threatens everyone's free will.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The strange doll-hand device that takes entry tokens was actually a toy "Thing Bank", a licensed Addams Family variation of a useless machine. Rumor has it McGoohan himself asked to incorporate the toy into the episode.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted; this is the second time a Number Twelve appears in the series, just after "The Schizoid Man."
  • Neural Implanting: What the General is capable of doing to large numbers of people.
  • The Unreveal: We never find out why Number Twelve betrayed Number Two in trying to stop the Village's plan to use The General to brainwash entire populations. It's hinted he was friends with the Professor and his wife, but we're never given a definitive answer.
  • Zeerust: The General turns out to be a room-sized 60s era set of computers with spinning reels of magnetic tape and operating by punchcard commands. Patrick MacGoohan later noted by the 1980s that the General could get outmatched by a single desktop computer with a floppy disk.