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Recap / The Prisoner E 2 The Chimes Of Big Ben

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Number Six has a new neighbour, Number Eight, or Nadia, an Estonian woman sent to the Village to "recuperate". Number Two (Leo McKern) seems very keen for them to socialise, arousing Number Six's suspicions. When Nadia attempts suicide following a failed escape attempt, however, Number Six comes to trust her, and eventually seems to develop romantic feelings for her.

Nadia tells Number Six that she knows the true location of the Village: it is in Lithuania, near the Polish border. Number Six constructs a small sailing boat, disguised in dismantled form as an abstract entry to the Village's art competition. He and Nadia manage to sail to a village in Poland where Nadia has contacts in an anti-communist resistance. They ship Number Six and Nadia to London in a crate.


When they arrive in the offices of the organisation that Number Six used to work for, a Colonel aggressively interrogates him, apparently suspecting that his disappearance was a defection to the USSR and that he has been sent back as a mole. The chimes of Big Ben, which Number Six and Nadia had discussed in their flirtation, sound. Unfortunately, the time is the same as that on Number Six's watch, which he took from their contact in Poland where there should be an hour's time difference.

A few minutes' search of the office reveals that Number Six is still in the Village. Number Two and Nadia watch him walk resignedly away, side-by-side. Nadia bids farewell to Number Two, in a manner which suggests that she is an even higher ranking member of whatever group they work for.


This episode provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: McKern's Number Two does like to chat up Number Six often, and treats him more of an equal than other Twos. He's still eager to break the Prisoner.
  • Anachronic Order: Was one of the first four scripts - "Free For All", "Dance of the Dead", and "Checkmate" are the others - created after the pilot episode, and usually aired early as it helps establish a lot of the "rules" of the series. However, Number Six is more well-behaved in this episode than the other early episodes, suggesting he's become more acclimated to the prison from having been there for a long enough time.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Nadia Rakowski says she is Estonian, but neither her first name nor her last name are plausibly Estonian (and members of non-Estonian ethnicities living in Estonia during the 60s would have been highly unlikely to self-identify as Estonians). Also, if she were East European with the Slav surname Rakowski she would use the feminine form Rakowska.
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  • Badass Boast: Number Six claims he can do even better than escape the Village: he'll come back, wipe it off the face of the earth, obliterate it, and Number Two with it.
  • Clock Discrepancy: Number Six realizes that his "escape" was a fake because Big Ben is indicating the same time as a watch he supposedly obtained in Poland — which should be one hour ahead of London time.
  • Les Collaborateurs: The General.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When Number Two says his ambition is to see the whole world as the village, he asks Six what his dream is. Six replies "I'd like to be the first man on the moon."
  • Deal with the Devil: When Two's interrogation of Nadia drives her to an attempted suicide, Six offers a deal to "settle down" (one of the two things Number Two wanted out of him) in exchange for letting Nadia out of the ward and under Six's protection. While Six is using the deal as a ruse to make an escape attempt, it's still a bad deal because Nadia is part of Number Two's overall trap.
  • Driven to Suicide: Nadia tries to kill herself on the electrified floor of her cell after her failed escape attempt.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Notwithstanding a later episode that features No. 6's fiancee, this is the only episode in which the Prisoner is actually shown engaging in any sort of romantic scenario (though how much of this is legitimate and how much of this is for show is unclear; if it's genuine, the ending of the episode reveals it to be one-sided).
  • Failed a Spot Check: The Village's ploy fails because somebody didn't take time zone changes into account.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Number Six and Nadia when discussing their escape plan, although it's not clear how fake it was.
  • Fascists' Bed Time: The Village curfew at 8pm is specifically depicted.
  • Honey Trap
  • Human Mail: Part of Number Six's escape attempt includes being shipped in a wooden box from Poland to London.
  • I Gave My Word: In order to free Nadia from the torture the Village was doing to her, Number Six offers a deal to Number Two: not to reveal his big secret or anything, but to accept Number Two's insistence that the Prisoner "settle in and get along" with the rest of the Village. Number Six demonstrates his promise by creating a work of art for the Village's contest, a massive sculpture that turns out to be a functioning boat used to escape. Number Six never said anything about stopping his attempts to break out.
    • If you'll notice at the end, even when Number Six realizes he's been duped, he still acts affably towards Nadia and Number Two, hinting that he'll keep his word to "settle in" at the Village. (Or possibly expressing a bit of professional admiration at the plot.)
  • Malevolent Mugshot: Apart from Number Six's work, every work in the art contest is a portrait of Number Two.
    • If viewed at a certain angle, the hole in Number Six's sculpture reveals a portrait of Number Two just behind it.
  • Mood-Swinger: McKern's Number Two is memorable for his sudden swings between Affably Evil, Faux Affably Evil, and downright nasty.
  • More Than Mind Control: Number Two rejects the hinted idea of torturing or brainwashing Number Six with "I want him with a whole heart, body and soul".
  • No, Mister Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Played with in Number Six's mindgame with Number Two about how many sugars he takes.
  • Not So Different: Number Two tries to talk Number Six into believing that they are, and that so are the two sides of the Cold War. When the Colonel interrogates Number Six, Number Six seems to come close to believing this.
  • Shout-Out: Number Two compares Number Six's sculpture to the work of Jacob Epstein. (In fact, Number Six's (apparent) abstract collection of found objects and wood shapes has very little to do with Epstein's modernistic but essentially representational work. This may be a mistake on the part of the writers or it may be a deliberate suggestion that Number Two is an ignorant bigot who rejects all "modern art" without knowing much about it.)
  • Smart People Play Chess: Number Six playing chess with the General.
  • Spotting the Thread: Number Six is tipped that he hasn't really escaped when he notices that the eponymous chimes sync with the time on a watch he was given in what was supposedly Poland, even though the two are in different time zones.
  • Tricked Into Escaping: Nadia convinces Number Six to join her in an escape attempt. It turns out to be a ploy to make him think he's escaped so that he'll let his guard down and reveal why he resigned.
  • Virtual Reality Interrogation: Number 6 escapes the Village and is transported to London, where he meets a former superior. As he's about to explain why he resigned, he realizes that the situation has been faked to trick him and discovers he's still in the Village.
  • Westminster Chimes: The chimes are a key plot point. They help Number Six realise he hasn't escaped to London, and remains a captive in The Village.
  • Wham Episode: According to Patrick McGoohan, the fifth in internal ordering of the seven episodes that "really count".
  • Worf Had the Flu: Rover is apparently held off by a few shots from a rifle. It turns out that the whole thing was staged.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: One of the several "fake escape" episodes.


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