Number 2 has a plan to get Number 6 to talk. He will brainwash Number 6 into thinking he is Number 12 - who has a moustache.
Do they intend to make Number 6 talk by making him wear a moustache? No, of course not. That would be an obvious, childish ploy. It's far more devious than that.
Because Number 6, who thinks he is number 12, is then told he has to impersonate Number 6. Why? Because there is another Number 6 in the village and Number 2 wants to get him to talk.
But who is this number 6? He's really number 12. Confused? If you're not confused, you're not following this properly. I'll explain again.
Number 6 has been brainwashed to believe that he is number 12, who has been sent to the village by number 2 to get number 6 to talk, by pretending to be number 6 even though he is number 6, whilst the number 6 he's trying to get to talk isn't number 6 at all but is, in fact, number 12 working for number 2.
Number 6 sees through this obvious, childish ploy. He pretends to be number 6 pretending to be number 12 pretending to be number 6, when in fact he is number 6 being number 6 being number 6. Because he's worked out that number 6 is in fact number 12 pretending to be number 6 and is therefore not number 6 because number 6 is number 6 and number 12 must therefore, by a process of elimination, be number 12.
Number 6 decides that, to escape the Village, he should pretend to be number 12, which means he has to pretend to be number 12 pretending to be number 6, rather than number 6 pretending to be number 12 pretending to be 6. So he is now number 6 pretending to be number 12 pretending to be number 6 pretending to be number 12 pretending to be number 6.
Look, they're wearing different coloured jackets, okay?
However number 2 sees through this obvious, childish ploy. He knows that it's not number 12 pretending to be number 6 pretending to be number 12. He knows it's number 6 pretending to be number 12 pretending to be number 6 pretending to be number 12 pretending to be number 6. How? Because he tests number 6, and number 6 gaffes by saying 'report back to "The General"'. So Number 2 lets number 6 go on a helicopter ride - straight back to the Village.
And that's Patrick McGoohan's scowl rushing towards me, cue prison bars, the end.
The clue that makes number 6 realise he is number 6 and not number 12 pretending to be number 6 is that he has a bruised thumb. His thumb was bruised when a lamp fell on it knocked by the perky bust of girl photographer Alison. Bras were pointier in the sixties. Casualties were inevitable.
Number 2 is played by Anton Rodgers who is, I think, the only actor is television history ever to wear prescription long-sighted-ness glasses in a prime-time sitcom. Except Sam Kelly.
This is the episode which has two Patrick McGoohans. The split-screen effect is remarkably effective. They develop a real on-screen chemistry, McGoohan and McGoohan. There's a real will-they, won't-they thing going on. Occasionally it looks like Patrick McGoohan is going to steal the scene, but then Patrick McGoohan steals it back again.
To be honest, though, it is one of the best bits of one actor performing dual roles I've ever scene. It's astonishing. It's staggering. It's fabulous. That Patrick McGoohan. He really knew how to play with himself.
BBC - Cult - Classic TV - The Prisoner (1967-1968)
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