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Recap / The Prisoner E 9 Checkmate

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Number Six has a brainwave about how to discover which of his fellow Villagers are prisoners, and uses it to form an escape committee.


  • Alice Allusion: A subtle one: In the human chess game at the beginning of the episode, Number Six is the white queen's pawn—the same position as Alice in Through the Looking-Glass.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Six's methodology for finding out who is a guard and who is a prisoner.
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  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Number Six impersonates a guard simply by acting imperious. The other prisoners, who have been conditioned to be subservient, buy it without question.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The Queen of Hearts is convinced she's in love with Six in order to make her a better spy.
  • The Bus Came Back: The shopkeeper from "Arrival" makes a return appearance, one of the few Village residents to do so. His behaviour during Number 6's test confirms he's a prisoner and not a warden.
  • Foreshadowing: Six tests the behaviour of other Villagers to see who's a prisoner and who's a warden. But his method of questioning convinces the other prisoners that he is a warden and a possible early clue that Number Six will turn out to be Number One.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Six actually screws himself in this episode as his entire strategy is based around most people not being as unbreakable as himself. So the fact he is unbreakable means his collaborators decide he's one of the guards.
  • Human Chess: Unlike other examples of this trope the players are volunteers, but one of them is taken to the hospital for 'treatment' when he makes a move on his own initiative. Also both sides are dressed identically.
    Number 6: Who's he?
    Woman: He's the champion.
    Number 6: Who was he?
    Woman: Hard to say. I've heard rumors.
    Number 6: Such as?
    Woman: That he's an ex-count. They say that his ancestors used to play using their retainers as chess pieces. They say they were beheaded as they were wiped from the board. Oh, don't worry; it's not allowed here.
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    • Later Number Six has a quiet word with the ex-count.
    Number 6: So, why do you use people?
  • Wham Episode: According to Patrick McGoohan, the third in correct chronological order of the seven episodes that "really count".

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