The Prisoner Episodes Paired as Films: Arrival and Schizoid Man
The introduction to this series of posts can be found here.
This post is about the two Prisoner episodes Arrival and The Schizoid Man, considered together as joined together to make a film, which is as they were released on the first UK video release in the 1980s. I briefly considered the structure of Arrival alone in my previous post, to compare it to Koroshi and Shinda Shima, but I would like you to forget what I said there for the purposes of this post.
That is because David Fakrikian's article which prompted this series of posts suggests a slightly different structure for the double episodes of The Prisoner and Dangerman (link below) so they must be considered slightly differently. Instead of the straightforward two related plots of the doubled up Danger Man episodes, of course The Prisoner structure as suggested by Fakrikian, requires a change of Number 2 rather than a change of baddie.
Edit: Because my brain is like a sieve I managed to publish this blog post without stating David Fakrikian's suggested related themes for the joint episodes nor his points of similarity between them. Instead I just veered off into my own ideas which isn't fair because his theory about this (see the video linked at the bottom of the page) is my jumping off point here. He sees The Schizoid Man as mirroring Arrival, with several scenes duplicated: the morning surprise; then the phone call from Number 2; being invited for breakfast; ringing the doorbell at the green dome; being greeted by the butler; sliding doors; both episodes feature Rover attacking; a betrayal by a woman in a cloak and red hat; and a helicopter escape attempt. He sees Arrival as being about Number 6 trying to maintain his own identity from the outside world and Schizoid Man about Number 6 trying to preserve his own Village identity. As stated below I don't agree with these reading of Schizoid Man because it's making Number 6 preserve something he adamantly doesn't want! I can't believe I published the post without this...
So when we lay out the two episodes together what we get is this:
B wakes up in the Village.
C Number 6 goes to see Number 2 and has breakfast.
D Given his file.
E Number 2's tour of the Village.
F Various conflicts: Labour exchange, Number 6 throws out the maid, he explores the cottage and throws out the maid again, then pretends to act in a more mutual way.
G Number 6 tries to escape and Rover gets him.
H Change of Number 2.
I Number 9 tricks Number 6 into trying to escape.
J Takes off in the helicopter and is brought back by control room.
A Number 6 is taken from his cottage.
B Number 12 wakes up with a moustache.
C Goes to see the new Number 2 and has breakfast.
D Given Number 6's file.
E Number 2 introduces him to Number 6's cottage.
F Various contests: Number 6 comes back and they joust verbally; shooting, fencing, boxing competitions, number 12 falls, number 6 is questioned as if an impostor, fingerprints, number 12 and Number 24 do the zener card experiment and it fails and the mole is different.
H Number 6 replaces Number 12.
G Rover kills the fake Number 6.
I Rings Number 2 pretending to be Curtis and tells him the real Number 6 is dead.
J He leaves by helicopter and is brought back.
I'm absolutely not claiming that this structure is the only way to understand the show, or even that it is objectively right, because I've cut out a lot of smaller events to bring out the repetition of significant events. So my opinion would be that David Fakrikian's suggested device of double, similar plots, makes perfect sense. I am surprised to find the similarity may be judged to be more about structure than subject. However I would also add that the change of Number 2 in Arrival and the point at which Numbers 6 and 12 swap over in Schizoid Man form plot turning points towards the end of both episodes and so these points may provide a similarity which isn't immediately apparent. I originally suspected that there would be a problem because there are actually three Number 2s spread across two episodes so I didn't think they would work sewn together. However the change over of Numbers 6 and 12 in Schixoid Man 'stands in' for the change of Number 2. Almost as if it's directing us to see what is really going on here...
In fact I would have to say the plots of Arrival and Schizoid Man make most sense when you know that Number 1 is Number 6 himself. I have always thought that Shizoid Man would be largely pointless from the point of view of the Village authorities and serve only to make Number 6 acquiesce in the Village without getting any information out of him. It makes more sense if you know that Number 6 is in effect fighting against himself in both episodes, although the nature of this fight becomes more apparent in the second half.
I have reduced the incidences of Rover getting people in these episodes to the ones where it only gets the main protagonists. I am interested however, in whether a structure could be developed around Rover's interventions, and would like to see what effect making Rover the chief subject of the show would have on the structure. I will resist the temptation to do it now to avoid making it even more unwieldy. I am also going to resist the temptation at this point to detect a structure around public and private actions but may well do so at some point in the future.
I suppose the main criticism of this possible structure is that we only have the episodes as actually broadcast and not as they would have been if they were released as movies, so all of this is pure supposition.
So to conclude: The episodes Arrival and Schizoid Man when seen back to back as if joined together as a film, do present the suggested structure of two halves where the second repeats major plot features of the first. There is a possible additional feature where the change of Number 2 towards the end of Arrival is reflected by the place in Schizoid Man where Numbers 6 and 12 swap over, and this exchange may reflect deeper aspects of The Prisoner's mythology.
Sources: I will be making extensive use of the page from David Stimpson's blog with its anonymous comment and the essay and video by David Farkrikian for these posts:
Image credit: https://david-stimpson.blogspot.com/2011/11/prisoner-in-series-of-90-minute-films.html?m=1
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