Everyone is Suspicious if Looked at Properly

I have significantly less to add to The Prisoner discussion this time around, partly because I only watched episode 3, Anvil, and am falling behind, and partly because now that we’ve established everyone and everything and everyplace, so we already know where the similarities and differences are.  Now we’re at the meat of it.

Anvil is still moving us forward in the story, while keeping the games coming.  I liked the idea that everyone is a spy and children are indoctrinated early. If you’re going to set up a retirement colony for old spies, what else would you teach them?  The mystery of 2’s family is getting more interesting.  2’s offer of a job to 6 and admitting that he was walking into a trap was excellent.  Bonus points to anyone who noticed the Penny Farthing bicycle in the bar.

I’m intrigued about Number 1.  I seem to recall Number 2 answering to someone in the original series, and if The Usual Suspects taught me anything, it’s that the greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

I’m anxiously awaiting episode 4 now, and will keep Digressing unless someone tells me to stop.  Judging by the (lack of) comments we’ve been getting, I’m safe for now.

You Can’t Cure Your Thinking With Your Thinking

I’m pre-empting my regularly scheduled look at this week’s comics for a Digression. Because we’re right in the middle of the new Prisoner mini-series, if I want to discuss my impressions of last night’s episodes I need to do it today, before I’m either proven right or wrong.

The Prisoner has always had a cult-like status in my house, even when I was a kid. I knew about the trippiness of that show through my parents but was only able to catch an episode or two every once in a blue moon. It wasn’t until the age of DVD and cable reruns in the past 5 years that I’ve been able to really fill in all the blanks. Then even with all that, I’ve still never seen Fallout, the last episode.

Still, I’ve been a fan for a long, long time: I’ve read the Prisoner mini that DC put out in the 80’s, my dad and I have been swapping links to gossip sites about a possible movie for years, and the Numbers and Rover outside the San Diego Convention Center last summer fascinated me more than anything else at the Con. So it’s safe to say that I’ve been looking forward to the new miniseries on AMC for quite some time now.

After watching the first two episodes on Sunday night I don’t know what to think, but in that good way that The Prisoner is supposed to invoke and that Lost has managed to build a cottage industry out of. (SPOILERS ahead, because damn it, I’m going to talk about this!)

The biggest thing I have a problem with is that they appear to be giving us answers. Not that I don’t want them, of course, but I don’t think we’re SUPPOSED to have them. If Patrick McGoohan had meant for them to be revealed, he had plenty of time to do so himself. Already we know 6’s name (Michael) and occupation (analyst for a CCTV company), and it looks like we’re going to get some backstory for 2 and The Village, as well. I also didn’t care for the manner of 6’s resignation. Spray-painted on a window? Quite classless. Plus, I always thought there was key information in the papers he handed in, details a little more subtle than graffiti. I think I just have to resign myself (ha ha) to this show being a different animal (which is obvious to everyone but me, I suppose).

Making that somewhat easier is the fact that this appears to be a continuation of the original series, which means The Village has had 40 years to work on its technique. When our new 6 wakes up in the middle of the desert, the first thing he sees in a man being chased by armed guards. The Prisoner preview that AMC has been showing explicitly says the man — 93 — is supposed to evoke the original Number 6, but I think a strong case can be made that he IS that Number 6. The age is roughly right, and he was wearing the same black jacket with white piping that McGoohan made famous. From the neverending carousel of Number 2’s we’ve seen, we know that numbers are dynamic, and 93 — or rather 9 minus 3 — cannot be a coincidence. We also see 93’s apartment, which has the same round portals and lava lamps that graced Number 6’s in the original series.

There are other nice touches: the new episodes all have titles tied to the originals. Rover is still guarding against escapes. Cars are 40 years old. The rest of The Village is mostly oblivious to their plight…I can keep going, but won’t.

The show itself? Well, so far it’s a nice little head trip. 6 arrives, meets 2 (and his bizarre little family), gets a tour of The Village and starts tracking down the mystery of where he is. He discovers he has a brother (or does he?). Nothing seems right, and yet there are some things innately familiar, including a box he buried as a child is right where he left it.

We’re only 1/3 of the way through, but I’m anxious to see where we’re going. I’m sure we’ll have to wait until the end to take in everything as a whole, and (hopefully) there will still be some unanswered questions. The Prisoner has always been about the battle for knowledge. Just as Number 2 and Number 6 will always battle each other for information, so do the fans and the writers. But it’s also about futility. Can Number 6 ever win? Can he escape? Can he accept those things? And that, too, has been the same for fans.

Matt’s off to The Village himself this week, so you’re stuck with me, but I have a lot planned. Tomorrow I’ll take a look at this week’s comics. Wednesday will be a review of some incredibly awful comics from last week (and hopefully one or two good ones). Blackest Night talk is pushed back to Thursday. Friday I take a victory lap and collapse.

Be seeing you.