Thursday, January 15, 2009

"The Prisoner"--Episode Six

The Prisoner

Episode Six

"The General"

The man whom we will call "the Prisoner" resigns and is gassed exactly as before. He wakes up in the Village.

The following conversation accompanies a similar miscellany of images.

Prisoner: Where am I?

Number 2: In the Village.

Prisoner: What do you want?

Number 2: Information.

Prisoner: Whose side are you on?

Number 2: That would be telling. We want information. Information... Information...

Prisoner: You won't get it.

Number 2: By hook or by crook... we will.

The Number 2 from "A, B and C" has been reinstated.

Prisoner: Who are you?

Number 2: The new Number 2.

Prisoner: Who is Number 1?

Number 2: You are Number 6.

Prisoner: I am not a number. I am a free man!

A helicopter surveys the Village from the air. The Prisoner watches it from a table outside the café, but nobody else pays it any attention. A poster on the wall behind him shows a distinguished face and the words "It can be done. Trust me." The Prisoner looks down and sees a young man staring at him from a nearby table. He glances away, but the man continues staring at him. The Prisoner returns the stare, and the man eventually looks away.

At that moment, a voice with a slight American accent issues from the café's loudspeaker, and the Villagers fall silent to listen.

Loudspeaker: Attention, ladies and gentlemen, attention. This is an announcement from the General's department. Will all students taking the three-part history course please return to their dwellings immediately. The Professor will be lecturing in approximately thirty minutes.

With the exception of the Prisoner, all of the café's customers get up and leave.

Loudspeaker: I will repeat that. This is a special announcement from the General's department, repeat, from the General. Will all students taking the three-part history course return to their dwellings immediately.

The Prisoner calls to the café's white-haired waiter, who is clearing tables.

Prisoner: Waiter?

Waiter: Sir?

Prisoner: Another coffee, please.

Waiter: Sorry, sir, we're closing. You did hear the announcement, sir? About the Professor?

Prisoner: I'm not one of his students.

Waiter: One coffee, sir. Two credit units, if you please.

The Prisoner hands him a piece of card.

Waiter: You're never too old to learn, sir.

Prisoner: (In an icy whisper) Who told you that? The Professor?

Waiter: No, sir, the General.

Prisoner: The General...

The waiter takes a small device from his pocket and stamps the card.

Waiter: Best of luck with your exams, sir.

Prisoner: Thank you.

The waiter wanders off to get the coffee, but the Prisoner gets up without waiting for it. The loudspeaker repeats its announcement.

Loudspeaker: This is a special announcement from the General's department, repeat, from the General. Will all students taking the three-part history course return to their dwellings immediately. The Professor will be giving his lecture in thirty minutes.

At the archway leading away from the café, the Prisoner pauses to read another poster displaying the same distinguished face. This one additionally bears a slogan attributed to "the General" -- "Our aim: one hundred per cent entry, one hundred per cent pass" -- and attributes to "the Professor" the claim "Speed Learn. A three year course in three minutes. It can be done. Trust me." He is about to proceed on his way, but then steps back to read the poster again.

The man who was staring at him earlier appears out of nowhere. He is Number 12.

Number 12: You don't believe it? A university-level degree in three minutes.

Prisoner: It's improbable.

Number 12: But not impossible.

Prisoner: Nothing's impossible in this place.

Number 12: You should enrol, Number 6. You'll find the Professor most interesting.

Prisoner: Really?

Number 12: With an extraordinary range of knowledge.

Prisoner: The only subject that I'm interested in is, um, getting away from this place.

Number 12: Exactly.

Prisoner: Who are you?

Number 12 smiles.

Number 12: A cog... in the machine.

Prisoner: And the General?

The helicopter suddenly flies overhead and an emergency buggy sets out for the beach, where a crowd of Villagers are chasing someone.

Prisoner: Who are they after?

Number 12: The Professor, I think.

He glances at the poster, implying that it is the Professor's face that is there displayed.

Prisoner: Why?

Number 12: You know professors: absent-minded. Best of luck with your exams.

The buggy speeds towards the beach, under orders from the Control Room.

Supervisor: All units: orange alert. Orange alert. All units, all posts: orange alert, orange alert.

The Prisoner hurries down to the beach himself, where he sees the mob still haring after the Professor. His foot strikes something buried just below the surface of the sand, and a tinny voice is heard.

Voice: Ladies and gentlemen... ladies and gentlemen, fellow Villagers, students, this is the Professor speaking... this is the Professor speaking.

The Prisoner pulls the object from the sand and finds it to be a small tape recorder. He turns up the volume.

Professor: Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Villagers, students... this is the Professor speaking... I have an urgent message for you.

He suddenly hears the emergency buggy approaching. He stops the tape recorder and casually drops it behind a nearby clump of grass, kicking sand over it to hide it. The vehicle pulls up in front of him and two men get out suspiciously.

Man: Are you a student?

Prisoner: Who isn't? Are you prefects?

Man: What are you doing here?

Prisoner: Playing truant.

Further along the beach, the Professor collapses, exhausted. The crowd drag him back to his feet.

Man: Come on, we'll give you a lift.

Prisoner: Where to?

Man: Home. Hundred per cent entry, hundred per cent pass: you know what the General said.

Prisoner: Who's the General?

Man: Come on, you don't want to start the term with a black mark.

Prisoner: All right, let's go.

They move towards the buggy, and the guards get in. In the distance, the crowd are pushing the Professor back towards the Village. The Prisoner watches the helicopter as it circles overhead.

Man: Get in, mister.

Prisoner: Do you think he'll make it?

Man: Who's that?

Prisoner: The Professor: he's due to lecture in a few minutes.

Man: He'll make it. Great man, the Professor. Treats lectures as though his life depended on it.

Prisoner: All right, let's go.

They zoom off across the sand. The huge screen in the Control Room tracks them all the way back to the Prisoner's cottage.

Prisoner: I'll... be seeing you.

The buggy departs, leaving him to enter his home. The TV is on.

Announcer: ... a significance far beyond the confines of this community. To quote our friend the Professor, Speed Learn is nothing less than a revolution in educational technique.

There is a rapid three-note fanfare.

Announcer: The latest figures show a 72.4% enrolment in the "Three Years in Three Minutes" history course. Many thanks... and congratulations!

Another blast of fanfare. The Prisoner gets a drink from the fridge. The TV plays light music for a few seconds, then the fanfare strikes again.

Announcer: And I think we can promise the General that we will improve even on that figure! And now, someone who needs no introduction.

The Prisoner sits down to watch. The Professor's wife appears on the screen.

Wife: Hello. Nice to be seeing you all again. My husband, the Professor, has asked me personally to convey his apologies for detaining you for a few moments. As you know, the huge success of this course has put an added strain upon him, and he's just now completing the notes for the second lecture and should be with us shortly. Meanwhile, poor substitute though I am for my husband, to bring you up to date on our future programme, the extracurricular seminar for post-graduate and advanced students will be held next week---

The announcer's phone rings.

Announcer: Er, excuse me.

He answers.

Announcer: ... Right, thank you.

He puts the phone down again.

Announcer: Thank you, Madam Professor. Your husband is now ready to complete the lecture. We now take you over to the Professor in his study. Best of luck with the exams!

Yet another fanfare. The Prisoner watches, intrigued.

Professor: My apologies, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to say a brief word about Speed Learn. It is quite simply the most important, most far-reaching, most beneficent development in mass education since the beginning of time, a marriage of science and mass communication which results in the abolition of years of tedious and wasteful schooling... a three-year course indelibly impressed upon the mind in three minutes. Impossible? That's what I said, until I was introduced to the General, and then I realised that not only was it possible, but that education was ready for a giant leap forward from the dark ages into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Ladies and gentlemen, I have been a teacher for thirty years. Speed Learn has made me as obsolete as the dodo.

Announcer: And we're going to prove it!

Fanfare, followed by bizarre swirling music.

Announcer: The subject of tonight's lecture is "Europe Since Napoleon", a hard, complicated, six-month study. Ladies and gentlemen, sit back, relax, watch the screen. We're going to cover it in fifteen seconds flat.

The music becomes intense as a black and white still of the Professor's face gazes out from the screen. The Prisoner stares back, hypnotised. After a few seconds, we zoom into the Professor's left eye where a mysterious coloured light pulses erratically. The Prisoner drops his glass, the TV plays its fanfare, and normality resumes.

Announcer: Fifteen seconds flat! Students wishing supplementary information will please address their queries to The General, Speed Learn, Town Hall.

The Prisoner snaps out of his trance, and cleans up the spilled drink.

Announcer: I will repeat that. Please address your queries to The General, Speed Learn, Town Hall. Many thanks, ladies and gentlemen, and... congratulations.

Number 2 enters with one of his henchmen.

Number 2: Mopping-up operations, Number 6?

The henchman passes an electronic device around the Prisoner's body.

Prisoner: Have you lost something?

Number 2: Not me, the Professor.

Prisoner: Oh.

The henchman starts searching the furniture.

Number 2: I believe you took a stroll on the beach.

Prisoner: What beach?

Number 2: Poor old Professor, losing his recorder with all his notes in it. You didn't see it, of course?

The Prisoner feigns ignorance, miming a largish object.

Prisoner: Would it have been something about, er, erm, that big, wouldn't it be?

Number 2: The Professor is rather worried about it.

Prisoner: Why don't you get your man to look in the wardrobe?

The henchman goes into the bedroom and examines the contents of the wardrobe. The Prisoner smiles.

Number 2: Very amusing. Tell me, are you still as keen as ever to leave us?

Prisoner: Any more questions?

Number 2: I was thinking that a compromise could be arranged in exchange for the recorder.

Prisoner: I wonder who has it.

The henchman leaves, having failed to find anything.

Number 2: Enjoy the lecture?

Prisoner: What lecture?

Number 2: It's a great experiment, Number 6. You can learn a lot.

Prisoner: History's not my subject.

Number 2: Isn't it? When was the Treaty of Adrianople?

Prisoner: September 1829.

Number 2: What happened in 1830?

Prisoner: Greek independence was assured and guaranteed.

Number 2: By whom?

Prisoner: Russia, France, Britain.

Number 2: Who was Bismarck's ally against Danish Prince Christian of Glücksburg?

Prisoner: Frederick of Augustenburg. He and the German Bundestag had never accepted the Treaty of London in 1852. Bismarck wanted war, but he wanted it waged by Prussia and Austria in alliance and not by the whole German Bund. He realised that a successful war against the Danes in 1864 would serve the same purpose as Cavour of Italy's entrance into the Crimean War...

Number 2 has been watching the Prisoner's speech with satisfaction, and they speak the conclusion in unison.

Both: ... namely that it would indicate future leadership and would at the same time raise Prussia's prestige.

Number 2: Very good. Ten out of ten. Don't underestimate yourself, Number 6. And don't underestimate me.

He leaves, smugly. The Prisoner stands in bewilderment for a few seconds, then rushes for the phone.

Operator: Can I help you?

Prisoner: When was the treaty of Adrianople?

Operator: September 1829.

Prisoner: What happened in 1830?

Operator: Greek independence was guaranteed.

Prisoner: BY WHOM?

Operator: By Russia, France and Britain.

Prisoner: Who was Frederick of Augustenburg?

Operator: Bismarck's ally against the Danes under Prince Christian of Glücksburg. Frederick, like the Bundestag, had never adopted the Treaty of London in 1852. He, like Bismarck, was not---

Having heard enough, the Prisoner hangs up. The radio speaks.

Radio: Curfew time: fifteen minutes. Curfew time: fifteen minutes.

The Prisoner paces up and down, then comes to a decision and sneaks down to the beach. He drops to his knees and looks for the tape recorder in the spot where he hid it, but it is no longer there. He is suddenly alerted by the sound of a twig snapping nearby. Acting casual, he slowly gets back to his feet and starts to wander away, but as he passes a bush, he lunges in and angrily hauls out Number 12 by his lapels.

Prisoner: Is there anything I can do for you?

Number 12: You want to get out of this place, don't you?

Prisoner: So?

Number 12 reaches into his pocket and pulls out the tape recorder.

Number 12: Here's your passport. Number 2 offered you a deal, didn't he? Don't you trust him?

Prisoner: I don't trust Number 2, I don't trust you, and I don't trust your tame Professor.

Number 12: Who do you trust, Number 6?

Prisoner: I trust me.

Number 12: Join the club.

He turns to go, then pauses.

Number 12: Oh, er, what was the Treaty of Adrianople?

Prisoner: September 1829.

Number 12: Wrong. I said "what", not "when". You need some special coaching.

He wanders off, leaving the Prisoner to listen to the Professor's message on the tape.

Professor: Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Villagers, students... this is the Professor speaking... I have an urgent message for you. You are being tricked. Speed Learn is an abomination. It is slavery. If you wish to be free, there is only one way: destroy the General. Learn this and learn it well: the General must be destroyed!

It is the next morning, and the brass band are playing. At the café, one of the Villagers passes the waiter.

Man: Morning! Nice day again!

Waiter: It'll be nice again tomorrow.

Man: What happened in 1878?

Waiter: 1878? Eastern Rumania was declared an autonomous province of the Turkish Empire.

The man laughs warmly.

Man: Word-perfect, eh? Well, best of luck with the exams!

Number 2 is in what we will later discover to be the board room. There is no one else there apart from the little butler, who is wheeling in a jug of milk on a trolley. Number 2 is on the phone.

Number 2: No, I assure you there's no problem, sir. We're getting a hundred per cent cooperation from everyone and I'm anticipating a truly exciting result... Who, sir? ... Oh, the Professor, just a mild aberration, I assure you. A couple of days' rest and adjustment and he'll be doing everything that we need.

The butler pours a glass of milk, hands it to Number 2 and then wheels the trolley away.

Number 2: Yes, yes, I will keep in touch, sir, in the closest touch... Thank you, sir.

Grave-faced, he puts the phone down.

Number 2: Probably the most important human experiment we've ever had to conduct. Must treat it like a military exercise.

The doors slide open and Number 12 enters.

Number 2: Anything new on the Professor yet?

Number 12: He is responding, sir. The doctor will be in to see you personally.

Number 2: Get over there and tell him to hurry things up.

Number 12: Yes, sir.

He turns to go.

Number 2: No. No, I'll do it myself.

He sips his milk. Number 12 steps forward, down the ramp.

Number 12: Yes, sir... Frankly, sir, I think we're going the wrong way about it with him.

Number 2: You mean about the Professor?

Number 12: We indulge his idiocies far too much. He's a crank and should be treated as such.

Number 2: You think so?

Number 12: I know he's the cornerstone of Speed Learn, but...

Number 2: Yes?

Number 12: I can't help feeling he's a troublemaker and he attracts troublemakers.

Number 2: How long have you been with us, Number 12?

Number 12: Me, sir? Quite a long time, sir.

Number 2: But obviously not long enough.

Number 12: Yes, sir... Sorry, sir.

He again turns to go.

Number 2: Number 12. Your opinions about the Professor should be carefully guarded.

Number 12 leaves. We move to the Control Room, which is performing its routine scans of the Village. Number 2 arrives and takes charge.

Number 2: Section 32, sound and vision!

The Supervisor speaks into a phone.

Supervisor: Put up section 32, sound and vision.

The image on the big screen changes to show the Professor beavering away at his typewriter. A white-coated doctor and nurse enter.

Doctor: How's it going, Professor?

Professor: Please, I'm busy.

Doctor: Breaking the back of the next lecture?

Professor: Please don't distract me.

The doctor picks up some sheets of paper from the Professor's desk. The Professor himself keeps typing.

Doctor: Very good, very good indeed.

Professor: I'm glad you approve.

Doctor: You mustn't overdo it. All right, nurse.

With the nurse's help, he hauls the Professor away from his work.

Professor: I have to finish these notes!

Doctor: Yes, of course you do, and after a little rest and some mild therapy, you'll be able to work twice as fast.

The nurse leads the Professor away. The doctor shuts the door (which we see is marked "The General"), then gathers up the Professor's typings and feeds them into a machine in the corner. It almost immediately emits a perforated strip of metal, which the doctor examines.

Supervisor: Track the Professor?

Number 2: No, the seminar.

Supervisor: (Into his phone) Right, put up section 39, sound and vision.

The screen changes again to show the Professor's wife supervising an art class in the gardens of a large house. People are sitting all over the place, peacefully sketching. One is asleep, but apparently being sketched by... the Prisoner.

Supervisor: It's Number 6!

Number 2: Really, how very odd.

The Prisoner beckons the Professor's wife over.

Wife: Can I help you?

Prisoner: I don't know. Can you?

Wife: Finding things a bit strange?

Prisoner: That is the trouble. I can't find anything at all.

Wife: Well, what exactly are you looking for?

Prisoner: What are we all looking for?

Wife: Well, let's see...

She looks around the garden and sees a man sitting in a deckchair. He is ripping pages out of a book and dropping them on the ground.

Wife: That gentleman over there. What do you think he's doing?

Prisoner: Tearing up a book.

Wife: He's creating a fresh concept. Construction arises out of the ashes of destruction. And that woman?

She indicates a woman who is leaning upside down against a wall by some steps.

Prisoner: Standing on her head.

Wife: She's developing a new perspective.

Prisoner: Really?

He points to the man he was sketching.

Prisoner: Him?

Wife: He's asleep. One learns only when the mind wants to, not at set times.

Prisoner: Oh, is that what your husband believes?

Wife: It's self-evident, surely? What's your subject?

Prisoner: What's yours?

Wife: Mine? Modern art.

Prisoner: Really? What do you think of this?

He shows her his drawing, which is of her in a general's uniform.

Wife: Not altogether flattering. So art's your subject too?

Prisoner: Oh, no! Military history. Er, generals... and, er, that kind of thing.

Wife: I'm afraid you may be wasting your time.

Prisoner: What a pity. I understood that your husband was quite an authority on the subject.

Wife: He may be, but I am not.

She tears the drawing in half.

Prisoner: Oh, creation out of destruction?

She walks off in a huff. The Prisoner cautiously starts exploring the gardens.

Supervisor: Number 6 out of vision.

Number 2: Scan.

Supervisor: (Into his phone) Scan.

The Prisoner enters the house through a window and walks down a darkened hallway into a darkened room. He turns the light on. The room is full of objects covered by white sheets and mounted on low pillars. He crosses to the shuttered window and peeks out at the garden with its art class still continuing. The Professor's wife enters the room behind him.

Wife: This is a private room.

Prisoner: Interesting view from here.

Wife: Who are you? A spy?

Prisoner: How long have you been in this place?

Wife: I don't have to answer your questions. Kindly leave.

Prisoner: The whole house is most elegant. Books, paintings and a very beautiful garden.

He picks up a book and idly through it. She seizes it from him.

Wife: The Professor and I have certain privileges.

Prisoner: As prisoners or as warders?

Wife: We came here voluntarily. We have everything we need. We're perfectly happy.

Prisoner: Doing what?

Wife: My husband is a teacher. He teaches.

Prisoner: Ah yes, indeed. And you, er...

He unveils one of the objects. It's a bust.

Prisoner: ... are the artist?

Wife: For the last time, I'm asking you to leave.

But he continues round the room, unveiling statue after statue.

Prisoner: Studies from life?

Wife: Rough exercises.

Prisoner: Very good! You really have a, um, considerable talent.

Wife: What are you looking for?

Prisoner: I would have thought that with all these privileges, we might find at least one study of, er, the General?

He uncovers a bust of himself, then one of Number 2. The man himself appears at the door, with the doctor visible behind him.

Number 2: It's really not a bad likeness, is it? Are you playing truant?

Prisoner: I'm just, um, doing a little homework.

Wife: I didn't ask him here. I found him.

Number 2: You don't have to explain, my dear. Number 6 and I are old friends. I can recommend him as a thoroughly zealous student. With a tendency to overdo it.

The Prisoner has pulled a hefty walking stick from a rack. He now addresses the doctor, who emerges from a room in which we can see the Professor sleeping in a large bed.

Prisoner: How's the Professor? Cooperating?

Doctor: I've given him some sedation.

Prisoner: Has he been overdoing it too?

Number 2: Probably a bit excited. You know your husband, my dear. This Speed Learn: he's as enthusiastic as a child.

Prisoner: Now he's sleeping like a babe.

Doctor: He's not to be disturbed.

Prisoner: I wouldn't dream of it.

He strolls through into the bedroom, waving the stick.

Wife: Get out! Stop him!

The Prisoner suddenly smashes the stick down onto the Professor's face. She screams. But the Professor isn't real: the stick has punctured his face, showing it to be a mere plastic shell. The Prisoner picks up a fragment of debris and hands it to the Professor's bewildered wife.

Prisoner: You should take greater care of him, ma'am: he's gone to pieces.

He strides out.

Number 2: You are an odd fellow. I'm afraid you have the wrong end of the stick.

Prisoner: No, I haven't -- the doctor has.

He throws the stick to the doctor.

Number 2: Just a minute. The offer I made you about the Professor's notes...

Prisoner: Really?

Number 2: It's cancelled.

Prisoner: Is it?

Number 2: He changed his mind. He doesn't need them now.

Prisoner: Well, that's extraordinary. Neither do I!

He pulls the tape-recorder from his pocket and tosses it to Number 2.

Prisoner: Best of luck with your exams! Why don't you open the blinds, let in some daylight? You've got nothing to hide, have you?

He leaves.

Doctor: Have we to warn Control?

Number 2: Don't warn anyone.

Doctor: But he's---

Number 2: You do your job, I'll do mine.

The doctor moves away to pursue his own business.

Number 2: Ah, my dear, I'm afraid he's made a bit of a mess of your masterpiece.

Wife: ... What does he want?

Number 2: What some of us want ultimately: to escape.

Wife: He persists about the General.

Number 2: I shouldn't worry too much, my dear. I have an obsession about him.

The sculpture of the Prisoner's resolutely staring face fills the screen.

Suddenly we are thrown into the midst of a jubilabnt crowd of Villagers, noisily celebrating the success of the day's lecture. One of them carries a placard with the words "No homework with Speed Learn". The TV announcer is there, reporting from the scene.

Announcer: ... far exceeded expectations. Why, it seems that everybody, and I do mean everybody, is falling over themselves to enjoy the fruits of Speed Learn. And why not? A three-year course in three minutes.

Number 12 is also there, watching impassively. The announcer turns to a nearby young woman who removes a pumpkin mask from in front of her face.

Announcer: Madam, Czar Nicholas I occupied the Danubian principalities...

Woman: 1853.

Announcer: Absolutely correct!

He turns to the similarly masked man standing next to her.

Announcer: Sir, when was Victor Emmanuel declared king of Italy in Turin?

Man: 1861.

Announcer: Absolutely correct again!

He continues in this questionmasterly fashion. Meanwhile, Number 12 and the Prisoner stand watching each other. The announcer reaches the Prisoner.

Announcer: ... Excellent answer, ha-ha ha-ha-ha! Ah, Number 6, what was the date of the Boer War?

Prisoner: 1899 to 1902.

Announcer: And in 1910?

Prisoner: In 1910 the two Boer republics were incorporated into the Union of South Africa.

Announcer: Well done! Coming along nicely, Number 6!

He wanders off, as does Number 12. The Prisoner returns to his cottage and heads for his bedroom, where the ceiling lamp is swaying slightly. As he touches the light switch, all the other lights go off with a bang and the telephone immediately starts beeping. The Prisoner answers it.

Prisoner: Yes?

Voice: Please stay where you are, Number 6. Do not leave. The fault in the electrical circuit will be attended to shortly. Electrics and administration are on their way. You will find candles for such an emergency in the upper kitchen cabinet, second right.

A little canopied "Electronics" truck arrives, and the man driving it enters the cottage. The Prisoner is busy lighting a candle.

Mechanic: Electrics.

Prisoner: Over there, I think.

The mechanic goes over to examine the bedroom light. Someone else enters the cottage: it is Number 12.

Number 12: Administration here, what's the trouble?

Mechanic: This, sir: a deliberate short-circuit across the contacts.

Number 12: Sabotage? That's punishable.

Mechanic: We need a two-stroke-D replacement, sir.

Number 12: All right, contact Control. Get them to switch in temporary reserve.

Mechanic: Very good, sir.

The mechanic goes out to his truck and takes a headset out of one of the compartments at the back.

Mechanic: Calling Electrics Control.

Inside the cottage, a whispered conversation is taking place.

Prisoner: Is this some of your work?

Number 12: Some. Listen carefully, we have about fifteen seconds. The Professor's real lecture, the one you heard on the tape recorder: would you like it to go out?

Prisoner: I might.

Number 12 hands him a pen.

Number 12: Take it. In the ink cylinder, micro. Be careful.

Prisoner: How?

He hands him a couple of tiny white discs bearing the Village's penny-farthing emblem.

Number 12: With these. Passes.

Prisoner: When?

Number 12: Tomorrow.

Prisoner: Where?

The mechanic briefly reenters the cottage. Number 12 jumps away from the Prisoner and speaks authoritatively again.

Number 12: I'll fix it!

Mechanic: All in order, sir.

The mechanic turns and wanders out again.

Number 12: I'll fix it, Number 6, so that you become aware that deliberate destruction of official property is a most serious offence. I must recommend the full penalty.

Prisoner: Which is?

Number 12: It could be imprisonment, it could be a fine.

Prisoner: I'll take the fine.

Number 12: Yes, I thought you might. Report to my office in Administration tomorrow morning.

Number 12 leaves.

Prisoner: Yes... sir.

It is the next morning, in the Professor's house. The Professor (the real one) is lying asleep in bed while the doctor examines him.

Wife: How is he, doctor?

Doctor: Fine, beautiful response.

Wife: Will he be able to complete the lecture?

Doctor: Able, and willing.

She bends over the Professor to make sure he is comfortable.

Outside, two men in black suits, overcoats, top hats and dark glasses, each carrying a briefcase, march through the Village, enter the Town Hall and pass through automatic sliding doors to a room containing a small security device. The device has a loudspeaker. The first man approaches it.

Loudspeaker: Your business, please?

First Man: Board member, lecture approval session: Education.

Loudspeaker: Proceed to pass.

The man takes one of the tiny passes from his pocket and places it in a slot on top of the security device. The device's lid slowly tips back and a little plastic arm, complete with hand, reaches for the pass. As soon as it touches it, it grabs it and the device slams shut.

Loudspeaker: Pass.

The second man approaches the device, as the first man walks into the main part of the room. Number 2 and 12 are already there, also dressed in black suits, hats and glasses.

Number 2: Ah, you have them?

First Man: Right here, sir. Ready processed.

He hands him his briefcase. Number 2 takes out some sheets of paper.

Number 2: Excellent. Summon the board.

He hands the papers to Number 12 who crosses to another security device and inserts a pass. The second man approaches and hands Number 2 his briefcase. This one contains a cylinder, carefully packed. The security device lets Number 12 deeper into the building. Number 2 holds the cylinder up to the light.

Number 2: Micro-reduction report satisfactory?

First Man: Oh, first-class, sir.

Number 2: Splendid.

He touches a control on the desk in front of him.

Number 2: Number 2 calling the General's office. The lectures have arrived. Full security alert.

Voice: Yes, sir.

First Man: Everything all right, sir?

Number 2: I don't know about the General, but I think I can say in advance that the experiment is going to be a hundred per cent success.

More board members, all in black, line up to present their security passes.

Loudspeaker: Your business, please?

Board Member: Board member, lecture approval session: Education.

Loudspeaker: Proceed to pass.

One of those in the line is the Prisoner.

Number 2 has meanwhile arrived at a heavily guarded door labelled "Projection room". He shows an identity card to one of the guards.

Number 2: Number 2, the Sublimator.

Inside, Number 2 hurries over to the projectionist, a man wearing a white uniform, headphones and the ubiquitous dark glasses.

Projectionist: Did the micro come through, sir?

Number 2: Transmission has been scheduled.

Projectionist: Has this been cleared with the board?

Number 2: It will be. Prepare to transmit.

Back in the lobby, the Prisoner is leafing through the sheets in his briefcase, eavesdropping on the phrases used by board members to identify themselves. A man dashes in.

Loudspeaker: Education board about to enter session. Hurry, please.

Man: Lecture approval session: Education. New member.

Loudspeaker: Proceed to pass.

He slots in his pass and the device duly accepts it. The man runs on into the building without listening to the response from the speaker.

Loudspeaker: Pass. Board room straight on, first right, first left, straight ahead. You were nearly late. Ninety seconds to session time. Board about to enter session in eighty-seven seconds.

The Prisoner puts his papers away into his briefcase, and then turns to face the security device. He tosses his briefcase past it. There is a small explosion and the briefcase bounces back to him.

Loudspeaker: Do not attempt to pass without using a key. Second occasion is fatal. Session time in eight minutes. Your business, please?

Prisoner: Lecture approval session: Education. New member.

Loudspeaker: Proceed to pass.

He inserts the pass Number 12 gave him, and waits while the device takes it.

Loudspeaker: Pass.

The Prisoner walks forward into a labyrinth of corridors and advances cautiously.

In the board room, the session has now started. The board members are seated round a huge ring-shaped table.

Number 2: Thank you, gentlemen, for your confidence in the General. And now, to show our confidence in you, we will give you a breakdown of the entire operation, in confidence of course.

Number 2 sits down, the board members applaud, and Number 12 gets to his feet.

In the corridors, the Prisoner passes the board room door, and hears a muffled voice coming from inside. He continues on his way.

Number 12: Speed Learn is the outcome of the General's prolific knowledge. Its basis is the students' confidence in a tried and trusted Professor, and the Professor's confidence in science.

The Prisoner arrives at the door to the projection room. Two guards are pacing up in front of it. Concealed behind the corner, he claps his hands to get their attention. One of them turns to see a beckoning hand poking out round the corner. The guard motions to his colleague to approach from the other side, then strides forward, truncheon at the ready, and is neatly felled by a punch out of nowhere as he reaches the corner. The Prisoner drags the unconscious guards into a nearby room, then cautiously enters the projection room. There, the projectionist is busy loading the projector with the miniaturised lecture cylinder, while a voice issues commands via a speaker on the wall.

Loudspeaker: Stand by, all operatives. Transmission will begin in approximately five minutes. Check in, please. Sound... General studio... Lecture studio... Telecine... Cameras... Projection...

The Prisoner has by now crept around the back of the projector platform. He reaches up and grabs the projectionist's ankle, but the projectionist stabs him in the left arm with the rod-like instrument he is holding. The Prisoner nevertheless manages to send him crashing off the platform onto the floor below.

Loudspeaker: Projection?

The Prisoner discards his hat, grabs the projectionist's white coat and rushes back up onto the platform.

Loudspeaker: Projection, will you clear please?

The Prisoner reaches up to the projector's control box and lowers it for use.

Loudspeaker: Projection!

Prisoner: All clear. Standing by.

Loudspeaker: All operatives clear. Stand by, please.

The Prisoner pauses for a moment to look at the blood flowing down from his wound onto his hand. Then he reaches into his pocket, pulls out the pen that Number 12 gave him and starts to unscrew it.

In the board room, Number 12 is concluding his speech.

Number 12: Thus the miniaturised course can be projected through the Sublimator at a speed thousands of times faster than the eye can record.

The Prisoner carefully extracts the miniaturised cylinder from the pen and loads it into the projector.

Loudspeaker: Transmission will start in two minutes.

Number 12: It is imposed directly onto the cortex of the brain and is, with occasional boosts, virtually indelible. Tonight's lecture, for instance...

The Prisoner has by now put on the projectionist's white coat and headphones and is preparing to operate the projector.

Loudspeaker: The transmission will commence in sixty seconds.

Number 2: And so much for the theory, gentlemen. Now for the practice.

Number 2 nods to Number 12, who pushes a button. Curtains sweep aside to reveal a large screen displaying the pretransmission checks.

Loudspeaker: Final clearance, please. Sound studio?

A man on the screen gives the thumbs up.

Loudspeaker: General studio?

The screen shows the announcer, who nods.

Loudspeaker: Lecture studio?

The Professor gives the thumbs up.

Loudspeaker: Cameras?

The shot on the screen pans to show the cameraman filming the Professor. He too gives the thumbs up.

Loudspeaker: Projection?

The screen shows the Prisoner, who unfortunately chooses this moment to remove his shades. Number 2 leaps to his feet.

Loudspeaker: Telecine?

Number 2: Hold that picture!

Number 12: What picture, sir?

Number 2: Projection... Closer.

The shot zooms in.

Number 2: Closer.

The shot closes in on the Prisoner's hand.

Number 12: He's cut his hand, sir.

The shot moves up to show the Prisoner's undisguised face.

Number 2: Poor old chap...

He picks up a phone. Moments later, guards creep up behind the Prisoner in the projection room, hit him over the head and carry him away.

With another projectionist installed and the peculiar spoked projector rotating, the real lecture can be broadcast. The board members look anxiously on.

Loudspeaker: Transmission will start in five seconds from now. Five... four... three... two... one... it!

The transmission begins, accompanied by the usual weird music. The Professor's face gazes out, and we again zoom into his left eye. This time we get to see all the strange whirling, flashing, pulsating equipment that comprises the Sublimator. After a few seconds, we zoom out of the announcer's eye.

Announcer: And so, ladies and gentlemen, we come to the end of another successful edition of Speed Learn. Our thanks to the Professor, and our congratulations to the General. Goodnight to you all. Sweet dreams.

The Prisoner has been brought to the board room. He sits in the centre of the ring table, still wearing the projectionist's white coat, but with his arm now in a sling. Number 12 paces around him. The only others there are Number 2 and a couple of guards.

Number 12: Who were they, Number 6? Who let you in? What are their names? And there's an organisation, isn't there? Dissidents. Who's the head man?

Prisoner: Santa Claus.

Number 12: Who's the head of the organisation? You'd be wise to tell us.

Number 2: He won't tell you anything. He's a trained conspirator. Very hard man.

He picks up a sheet of paper.

Number 2: This reactionary drivel that you were on the point of sending out to our conscientious students: "the freedom to learn", "the liberty to make mistakes", old-fashioned slogans. You are an odd fellow, Number 6, full of surprises.

The phone beeps. It's the Professor's wife.

Number 2: 2 here... Ah yes, my dear, congratulations, the lecture went splendidly.

Wife: You're pleased?

Number 2: Yes.

Wife: Then may I see him?

Number 2: Of course. As soon as he's completed the first phase of the next instalment. He's performing so well it seems a pity to disturb him now. How long? Oh, who can tell? But not long, my dear. He needs you.

Wife: You'll let me know?

Number 2: Naturally I'll let you know.

He puts the phone down.

Number 2: Lovely woman, warm, sympathetic. She'd talk him into anything to keep him alive.

Prisoner: The Professor?

Number 2: Indeed. Such is the course of true love.

Prisoner: Do you need him?

Number 2: They're both necessary. One for the other. Even essential.

He jumps up and approaches the Prisoner, shoving one of the sections of the table aside.

Number 2: Now, to the matter in hand! I'm sure that a man of your calibre will appreciate that rebels... that rebels must be kept under the closest possible surveillance with a view to their extinction if the rebellion is absolute.

Prisoner: The Professor?

Number 2: Oh no no no, not the Professor. No problem, he has an adoring wife and an even more attentive doctor. No, no, a lovely fellow. People love him, they'll take anything from him. It's the image, you see, that's important: the kindly image.

He picks up the phone again.

Number 2: The General's office, if you please.

He turns back to the Prisoner.

Number 2: You see, my dear chap, he won't answer our questions, but the General can answer anything, given the basic facts.

The phone interrupts him.

Number 2: Ah, yes. Yes, it all went splendidly: delighted, absolutely delighted. Er, just a slight problem for you. Mind if we come round?... Thank you, right away.

He puts on his top hat.

Number 2: The General awaits us. We shall soon know what's what.

He puts on his shades and they all set off through the corridors. Eventually they arrive at the door marked "The General". Number 2 knocks and they go in. The Professor is working at his typewriter. Number 2 examines the books on his table.

Number 2: Plato, Aristotle, Voltaire, Rousseau and the rest: they're all here, all available to the General. There is no question, no question from advanced mathematics to molecular structure, from philosophy to... crop spraying the General cannot answer.

The Professor finishes his page of typing and feeds it into the nearby machine. The machine emits a strip of metal which Number 2 and the Professor briefly examine. Number 2 nods to the Professor, who crosses to stand beside a large pair of full-length curtains.

Number 2: This is how it works. Allow me to introduce... the General.

The curtains pull back to reveal a corridor containing a ramp that leads up to a platform where an assistant is attending to an enormous computer.

Number 2: All the Professor's own work. He gave birth to it and loves it with a passionate love; probably hates it even more.

The Professor walks up the ramp and inserts the metal strip into the General. The computer starts to make number-crunching noises.

Number 2: That mass of circuits, my dear fellow, is as revolutionary as nuclear fission. No more wastage in schools, no more tedious learning by rote: a brilliantly devised course, delivered by a leading teacher, subliminally learned, checked and corrected by an infallible authority... and what have we got?

Prisoner: A row of cabbages.

Number 2: Indeed. Knowledgeable cabbages.

Prisoner: What sort of knowledge?

Number 2: For the time being, past history will have to do, but shortly we shall be making our own.

Prisoner: Napoleon could have used it.

Number 2: Professor? Come here.

The Professor comes back down the ramp.

Number 2: Take down a problem for the General: an illustration of infallibility.

The Professor takes his seat at the typewriter and transcribes what Number 2 says.

Number 2: Point one: a traitor in the Village. Point two: security pass discs were issued to Number 6. Point three: access to these is through...

He has come to stand right in front of Number 12, who initially avoids eye contact.

Number 2: ... through where? Through where?

Number 12: Administration, sir.

Number 2: Exactly. Put that down! Also that Number 12 is an official in Administration. Now, ask the General---

Prisoner: A question that can't be answered.

Number 2: What's that?

Prisoner: There is a question that the General cannot answer.

Number 2: Impossible.

Prisoner: Allow me to ask it.

Number 2: No.

Prisoner: Are you afraid?

Number 2: Go ahead.

Prisoner: Excuse me, Professor... Thank you.

The Professor stands up and the Prisoner moves to the typewriter. He removes the sheet on the which the Professor had been typing Number 2's question, and inserts a new one. He then presses four keys and takes the sheet out again. Number 2 peers over to see what he has typed, but the Prisoner keeps it hidden.

Prisoner: With your permission?

He inserts the sheet into the machine which converts it into the usual metallic strip. He hands this to Number 2.

Number 2: Feed it in.

Number 2 passes the strip to the Professor, who ascends the ramp and feeds the strip into the General. Almost immediately, dials start creeping up to their "Danger" zones, while the Professor makes frantic adjustments. The computer starts to roar and spark.

Number 2: Switch it off.

Professor: I CAN'T!

Smoke pours out of the General's ventilation grilles.

Number 2: SWITCH IT OFF!

As the Professors attempts to do so, he touches a handle that gives him a powerful electric shock. Number 2 steps forward to see what is going on; the Prisoner follows him and the guards try to club him down. While he is busy fighting them off, Number 12 dashes up to help the Professor: as he grabs him, there is a massive explosion and they both fall to the floor, electrocuted. Number 2 staggers up to the burnt-out computer, and picks up the now bent and blackened metallic strip that carried the Prisoner's question.

Number 2: What was the question?

Prisoner: It's insoluble, for man or machine.

Number 2: What was it?

Prisoner: W. H. Y. Question mark.

Number 2: Why?

Prisoner: Why?

Number 2: ... Why?

Number 12 and the Professor lie dead in the wreckage. Some time later, the Prisoner walks through the Professor's garden and passes his widowed wife without a word.

Prison bars slam shut on the Prisoner's face.

Next episode: Many Happy Returns

Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner

Guest Stars:
Colin Gordon as Number 2
John Castle as Number 12
Peter Howell as the Professor

Angelo Muscat as the Butler
Al Mancini as the Announcer
Betty McDowall as the Professor's Wife
Peter Swanwick as the Supervisor
Conrad Phillips as the Doctor
Michael Miller as the Man in the Buggy

Keith Pyott as the Waiter
Ian Fleming as the Man at Café/First Top Hat
Norman Mitchell as the Mechanic
Peter Bourne as the Projection Operator
George Leech as the First Corridor Guard
Jackie Cooper as the Second Corridor Guard

Episode written by Joshua Adams (i.e. Lewis Greifer) and directed by Peter Graham Scott

Executive Producer: Patrick McGoohan

Production Manager: Bernard Williams

Director of Photography: Brendan J. Stafford B.S.C.

Art Director: Jack Shampan
Camera Operator: Jack Lowin
Editor: John S. Smith

Theme by Ron Grainer
Musical Director Albert Elms

Assistant Director: Gino Marotta
Sound Editor: Ken Rolls
Sound Recordist: John Bramall
Music Editor: Eric Mival
Casting Director: Rose Tobias-Shaw

Continuity: Doris Martin
Set Dresser: Kenneth Bridgeman
Make-Up: Eddie Knight
Hairdressing: Pat McDermot
Wardrobe: Masada Wilmot

Made on Location
and at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Borehamwood, England

An ITC Production
Incorporated Television Company Limited MCMLXVII
by Everyman Films Limited

"I am not a number, I am a free man!"