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The Prisoner

Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

The Prisoner: Confrontation The Prisoner
The Prisoner Book c
Story by Dean Motter and Mark Askwith
Illustrated by Dean Motter
Colored by David Hornung and Richmond Lewis


A confrontation 20 years in the making occurs between Number 6 and Number 2 in the Village.


Read the summary of the mini-series at Wikipedia


Characters appearing or mentioned in this issue


Alice Drake

Number 6

Thomas Drake

Lee West

Mrs. Butterworth (mentioned only)

Meagan Drake (mentioned only)

Barb (Thomas' secretary, mentioned only)

Director of Operations Ross

Max (mentioned only)

Joanne (mentioned only)

Martin Lake (deceased, mentioned only)

Mr. Smiley (mentioned only, possibly a nickname; possibly based on fictional British spy George Smiley in novels by John le Carré?)

Number 2 


Didja Know?


This study is of the third issue of the 4-issue mini-series titled simply The Prisoner published by DC Comics in1988-89, based on the 1967 TV series. The trade paperback compilation was titled The Prisoner: Shattered Visage.


The individual issues of the mini-series are labeled books a-d (rather than the typical numbering convention). This may be a nod to the episode titled "A. B. and C."




Didja Notice?


On page 7, Thomas hears a radio broadcast about a magnox power station in Gloucestershire and the Bradwell nuclear power station in Essex. "Magnox" is an obsolete type of nuclear power station; the name is derived from magnesium-aluminium alloy which covers the fuel rods of the reactor. Gloucestershire and Essex are counties in England which were home to nuclear power plants that were shut down in 1989 and 2002 respectively.


Another broadcast mentions the anniversary of a stock market crash. This is probably a reference to Black Monday, the stock market crash of October 19, 1987.


    Also in the broadcasts is the report of the mysterious deaths of British defence officials, with a defence ministry spokesman dismissing theories of foreign assassination as "straight out of James Bond". Bond, of course, is the fictional British super-spy of novels and film. The broadcast goes on to state that five of the dead scientists worked for the Marconi Electrics Company, a defence subsidiary of General Electric, doing top secret research involving the Star Wars anti-missile defense initiative. Marconi Electronics Systems was an actual company at the time, owned by General Electric Company (a British corporation that went defunct in 1999 and not related to the U.S. company called General Electric) and 25 scientists who worked for the firm did die in the years from 1982-1990, with a number of conspiracy theories floating around about the reason for the deaths.

   There is also a Marconi-GEC connection in that the offices of ZM-73's superiors (ZM-73 being Patrick McGoohan's character in The Prisoner) were shot inside the GEC-Marconi building on Elstree Way in Borehamwood, London for the episode "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling"; one might now interpret this as a working relationship existing between the agency he worked for and Marconi.


The broadcast mentions energy secretary Cecil Parkinson. Parkinson was, in fact, the British energy secretary from June 1987-July 1989.


Another broadcast mentions someone who plunged to their death from a Bristol bridge and whose body was found to have a tiny puncture wound in his left buttock. This alludes to the death of a computer software engineer at Marconi, Vimal Dajibhai, in 1986.


On page 10, Thomas tells Lee that KAR 120C was a wedding gift from Mrs. Butterworth. Mrs. Butterworth did seem to be in ownership of the car after "Number 6's" disappearance from London (i.e. his abduction to the Village in "Arrival"), as seen in "Many Happy Returns".


On page 11, Lee tells Thomas that their little operation has snafued. SNAFU stands for "Situation Normal: All Fucked Up." It originated as military slang but the term has also come to be used simply as the word "snafu", meaning simply that something has gone wrong.


On page 13, Alice finds an ape mask sitting on a pedestal in the Control Room of the Village. This may be the ape mask that Number 1 was wearing under his comedy-and-tragedy mask before it too was torn off by Number 6 to reveal 6's own face underneath in "Fall Out". After she finds the mask, Number 6 begins to speak the lyrics of "Pop Goes the Weasel", "...The monkey chased the weasel...The monkey thought it was all in fun...Pop goes the weasel." The music (though not the lyrics) of this song are heard a number of times in several episodes of the TV series, with its meaning in relation to The Prisoner unclear.


On page 15, Alice asks Number 6 if he's ever going to tell her his name. The two of them then have a brief dialog in German.

Number 6: "Namen sind überflüssig, nummer sechs." ("Names are superfluous, Number Six.")

Alice: "Also, herr drunter-drüber...wie darf ich sie denn nennen?" ("So, Mr. may I call you?")

Number 6: "Gar nichts, Nummer Sechs." ("Nothing, Number Six.")


On page 17, the gigantic star chart on the rounded ceiling and walls of the Control Room is revealed when Alice's eyes become adjusted to the darkness. Number 6 begins to quote "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", a 19th Century English lullaby still popular today. He also quotes from "Star Light, Star Bright", an American nursery rhyme from the late 19th Century; the full text of the poem is, simply:

Star light, star bright,

The first star I see tonight;

I wish I may, I wish I might,

Have the wish I wish tonight.


On pages 17 and 18, Alice and Number 6 begin speaking in yet another language, written on the page in the Cyrillic alphabet, thus untranslatable (by me, anyway). They are possibly speaking Russian.


On page 24, Ross remarks that the U.S. government can't slap a D-Notice on sensitive information to prevent it being printed by the media the way they do there in the U.K. D Notices, or Defence Notices (currently referred to as DA Notices for Defence Advisory) have been used in the UK since 1912, as a request, not legally binding, to the news media by the government to not publish or broadcast specified subjects for the good of national security.


On page 25, Thomas tells Ross about several topics he had to remove from Number 2's book The Village Idiot while he was re-writing it: Zircon spy satellites, the Windscale disaster, pre-emptive orbital platforms, the Kennedy assassination, and the Livermore Group. These are all actual concerns of the British and U.S. intelligence agencies to a more-or-lesser degree at the time.


Thomas remarks that the most interesting lacuna was about the Archangels ("lacuna" is a term that means a missing section of text from a manuscript). It's implied that the Archangels are something related to U.S. intelligence concerns, but neither Thomas nor Ross admit to knowing what it means. Thomas goes on to say that the removed sections about it were all very cryptic and apocalyptic.


On page 34, Number 2 refers to Alice and Number 6 as "six of one, half dozen of the other." He used this same phrase with Number 6 in "Once Upon a Time".


On page 45, portions of "They Whose Course on Earth is O’er" are seen, an 1844 hymnal by John Mason Neale (1818-1866).

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