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Recap / The Prisoner E15 "The Girl Who Was Death"

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Number Six pursues a mad scientist and his beautiful, murderous daughter on a wild superspy adventure!

This episode provides examples of:

  • Backwards-Firing Gun: Number Six sabotages all the rifles in the lighthouse armoury. So when the mooks shoot at him, their rifles explode and kill them. Similarly, he removes the explosives from the grenades, and inserts them into the sticks; anyone who tries to use one of these grenades just blows himself up.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: Number Six actually fires a machine gun, although he doesn't kill anyone with it.
  • Bond One-Liner: Played for laughs.
  • Breather Episode: One of the most lighthearted, fun episodes of The Prisoner: 50 minutes of escapist fantasy lacking the serious themes present in many episodes of the series. In the broadcast order, it is bookended by very dark and serious episodes: "Living in Harmony" and the two-part finale.
  • But You Were There, and You, and You: The episode's main drama turns out to be a story Number Six is telling to a group of children, and the two villains in the story are played by the same actors as Number Two and his assistant.
  • Cutting the Knot: Sonia ties Number Six to a chair inside the missile and leaves him to die upon its launch. Number Six can't reach the knots to untie them, and the rope is too strong to break—so he breaks the chair and slips the rope right off.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Sonia, who's Daddy's Little Dragon to boot!
  • Death Course: Number Six follows Sonia into an abandoned village that's just loaded with death traps. There's an automated sentry gun, a Trap Door opening onto electrified spikes, and a Gas Chamber.
  • Destructive Romance: After he survives several murder attempts, Sonia falls madly in love with Number Six. Unfortunately, this just makes her even more obsessed with killing him.
  • Driving a Desk: The episode has a car chase sequence in which Sonia tries to make Number Six crash his car by making the back-projection road behind him spin around.
  • Fake Shemp: Patrick McGoohan was working on Ice Station Zebra at the same time. He had already shot some scenes for the film during the production of "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling", but had to return to Hollywood to complete his part during the production of this story, so the crew had to shoot round him, and use a double for some of the scenes. This is mainly during the carnival sequence, where shots of Number 6 (in reality a body double) walking around the location where his face is never shown clearly are interspersed with close-up shots of Mc Goohan's face in front of obvious back-projection.
  • Faking the Dead: Number Six escapes from Sonia by faking his own death in a vehicle explosion.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The reveal that Number 6 is just reading a bedtime story is foreshadowed by the occasional shots of a picturebook, with the pictures matching what is going on in the episode at the time.
    • The fact that the mysterious woman Number 6 is pursuing is, in reality, a Village operativenote  is foreshadowed a couple of times:
      • The message "You have just been poisoned" that she leaves at the bottom of his drinking glass is writted in the distinctive Village font.
      • She refers to "this village" when Number 6 is stacking up poisoned candles to make his escape.
  • Friend to All Children: Number 6 is seen babysitting children. Awwww!
  • Gargle Blaster: After finding out he's been poisoned, Number Six quickly knocks back a jaw-dropping array of whiskey shots to make himself throw up.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At the end of the episode, No. 6 turns to the camera and says "Goodnight children, everywhere." He's talking to No. 2 who is monitoring him, but he could be speaking to the audience as well.
  • Lighthouse Point: Professor Schnipps plans to launch a rocket against London from an isolated lighthouse. (Actually the lighthouse itself is the rocket. I say, you've guessed! You're not the Duke of Wellington, are you?)
  • Linked List Clue Methodology: The first third of the episode is Sonia repeatedly trying to kill/incapacitate Number Six, then leaving him directions to the next attempted murder site.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Sonia is the villainous variety.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Number Six sneaks into the lighthouse base by knocking out one of the mooks and taking his uniform.
  • Napoleon Delusion: The mad scientist Professor Schnipps dresses like Napoleon, and has all his underlings wear period-appropriate uniforms.
  • Nested Story Reveal: The final minutes reveal that this whole episode is a bedtime story, told by Number 6 to a group of children.
  • No Name Given: A line of dialogue by a boxing referee is often misheard as announcing McGoohan's character by the name "Mr. Drake". However, officially published scripts and closed captioning reveal the scripted line is "Mr. X."
  • Offhand Backhand: One of the mooks gets suspicious and sneaks up behind Number Six, while Six seems occupied with reassembling some rifles and grenades. Without turning around or looking up, Number Six knocks the mook out with a grenade to the head.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The episode changes the format from a serious espionage drama with sci-fi overtones to a parody of other spy dramas including The Avengers and James Bond.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Sonia does this with grenades before placing them in a launcher.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Loads of them, mostly from Sonia, since Number Six isn't really the type.
  • Properly Paranoid: The Village, apparently running out of ideas on how to get Number Six to talk, task him with watching over some children, hoping that he'll let his guard down and reveal some information to the kids. Number Six guesses, correctly, that the Village is still watching—and he tells the kids a ridiculous story just to annoy Number Two.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The episode was adapted from an unproduced Danger Man episode in order to fill the quota of extra episodes beyond McGoohan's desired seven.
  • Sauna of Death: Number Six finds himself trapped in a Sauna Box Death Trap. It doesn't explode, though, he merely escapes.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The title and structure of the episode strongly evoke the novel The Man Who Was Thursday.
    • Number Six receives his orders in a manner mimicking that of Jim Phelps in Mission: Impossible. The episode also includes more than a few nods to Danger Man since it was adapted from an unused script for the series.
    • The message on the mug saying "You have just been poisoned" is much like a scene in the episode "You Have Just Been Murdered", from The Avengers
    • Sonia traps Number Six in a hot box, much like James Bond did to Count Lippe in Thunderball.
    • "Goodnight children, everywhere" was the iconic Signing Off Catchphrase of the BBC's radio children's show Children's Hour.
  • The '60s: As part of his disguise, Number Six rocks a groovy moustache-and-muttonchops combo.
  • Special Edition Title: A slight variant, in that Number Two isn't shown in the opening titles.
  • Storybook Episode: Though the frame doesn't get revealed until the end of the episode.
  • Tap on the Head: Number Six knocks out two Mooks with a bop on the top of the head, one with his fist and one with a grenade used as a club.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Number Six gets his mission instructions from a pre-recorded vinyl record. At one point, the recording anticipates that Number Six would have a smart-alec rejoinder.
  • Throw the Pin: There's a variation where Number Six tampers with the bad guys' old-timey WWI-era grenades (the ones with a baton-like handle used to hurl a can-shaped charge) so the explosives ended up in the handles.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Number Six, looking for his adversary at his local pub, drinks a pint, and sees a message at the bottom of the glass that gradually reveals: "You have just been poisoned". He then orders and tosses back, in quick succession, brandy, whiskey, vodka, Drambuie, Tia Maria, Cointreau, and Grand Marnier. The barmaid protests "Sir, you'll make yourself sick!" He smiles queasily and hurries into the lavatory.
  • Weaponized Landmark: Professor Schnipps' lighthouse turns out to be the nosecone of his missile.