From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Rewatch: The Prisoner — Episode 1: The Arrival

A couple of weeks ago the world lost a great actor and sharp storyteller: Patrick McGoohan. Though his roles were many and varied through film, television and stage, he is best known to the SF fans amongst us as Number Six from the classic British series The Prisoner. This show, which had a limited run of 17 episodes, was deep and engaging, but also kind of confusing. In honor of Mr. McGoohan, we thought it would be fun and enlightening to rewatch the series and discuss it as we go along.

Fittingly enough for as controversial a series as The Prisoner, even the episode order is under dispute. Though there are no less than four preferred viewing orders, I have chosen to go with the order proposed by Six of One, the Prisoner Appreciation Society, which was also used for the A&E DVD release in the United States. AMC, which is making the episodes available for free streaming via their website, has opted for the order in which they first aired in the UK.

Day 1, Episode 1: The Arrival

This is, of course, the episode that introduces us to Patrick McGoohan’s character and the setting for the seventeen episodes of the series. The lengthy and dialogue-free opening sequence tells much of the story, including his “arrival” in the Village and his efforts to find both who is in charge and a means of escape.

It’s too soon for anyone to really know what’s going on–if in fact, we ever get a clear explanation. Questions may be a burden to others (and answers a prison for oneself), but not to us… So what questions do you have and what do you think is happening so far?

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