Free for All (The Prisoner)

"Free for All" is an episode of the allegorical British science fiction TV series, The Prisoner. It was written and directed by Patrick McGoohan (though he used Paddy Fitz a pseudonym for the writer role) and second to be produced. It was the fourth episode to be aired in the UK on ITV (ATV Midlands and Grampian) on Friday 20 October 1967 and was first broadcast in the United States on CBS on Saturday 29 June 1968.[1][2]

"Free for All"
The Prisoner episode
Episode no.Series 1
Episode 4
Directed byPatrick McGoohan
Written byPatrick McGoohan (credited as Paddy Fitz)
Cinematography byBrendan J. Stafford
Production code2
Original air date20 October 1967
Guest appearance(s)

The episode stars Patrick McGoohan as Number Six and features as Number Two Eric Portman.[3] The central theme of the episode is the hypocrisy and vacuity of the democratic election process.

Plot summary

Number Six is persuaded to run for election to the post of Number Two when it is suggested to him by the new incumbent that, should he win, he will finally meet Number One. Number Fifty-eight, a newly arrived young woman who speaks only an unidentified Slavic-sounding foreign language (really "a meaningless linguistic pastiche specially invented by the scriptwriters"[4]) is assigned to Number Six as his assistant. Both men campaign for the office, with Number Six subversively offering freedom if he is elected. Number Six participates ambivalently, but abruptly makes a break for freedom himself in the midst of the campaign by escaping in a motorboat. He is retrieved on the water by Rover while he robotically mouths campaign platitudes.

Number Six and Number Two drink and commiserate in a cave where illegal liquor is distilled and Number Two confesses that he detests The Village. Number Six is again repeatedly drugged and coerced into accepting the campaign, and wins the election when virtually all the robotic "citizens" vote for him. As he and Number Fifty-eight go to the Green Dome to take command of the Village, she agitates him by playing with the buttons on the control panel before brutally slapping him and stunning him with bright lighting. As Number Six becomes somewhat more lucid and attempts to broadcast to the Villagers that they are free to go, he is beaten by a group of mechanics in coveralls, and Number Fifty-eight, now speaking perfect English, reveals herself as the real incoming Number Two, while the previous Number Two prepares to head out. She asks her departing predecessor to give her regards to "the homeland".

Cast

Notes

  • The photograph of Number Six on his election poster is the same as that used for his former role as a spy that is seen being filed away at the beginning of each episode. It was also, at the time, actor Patrick McGoohan's official publicity picture.

References

  1. Pixley, Andrew (2007). The Prisoner: A Complete Production Guide. Network Distributing. p. 96.
  2. "A. B. and C." anorakzone.com. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  3. Davies, Steven Paul (2007). The Prisoner Handbook. Pan. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-230-53028-7.
  4. Redmond, Dennis (2003). "The World is Watching: Video as Multinational Aesthetics, 1968-1995". Academia.edu. Southern Illinois UP. p. 70. Retrieved 26 April 2019.

Sources

  • Fairclough, Robert (ed.). The Prisoner: The Original Scripts. vol. 1. foreword by Lewis Greifer. Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 978-1-903111-76-5. OCLC 61145235. – script of episode
Last produced:
"Arrival"
The Prisoner episodes Next produced:
"Checkmate"
Last transmitted:
"A. B. and C."
Next transmitted:
"The Schizoid Man"
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