Revisiting the Prisoner, Part 8: Where not all the masks are worn

In celebration of AMC’s re-imagined The Prisoner and the recent blu-ray release, I’m re-watching all 17 classic episodes. Join me, won’t you?

Yes, I’m running behind.

The original intent of this series of posts was to re-watch all the original episodes of The Prisoner before I sat down to watch the AMC production, which debuted in the US last week. Well, unfortunately for my loyal readers (but fortunately for me) I had a business matter to attend to which ended up with me go to Australia for two weeks this past month. So, I’m late, but still plan on finishing the original before watching the new version (though, unfortunately, the reviews I read are not encouraging).

So, onward…

“Dance of the Dead”

Well, this episode is messed up.

McGoohan is drugged, ostracized and generally has a really bad day. An example of how bizarre this episode is: In the end The New Number 2 is dressed like Peter Pan as a Halloweenesque carnival (where McGoohan is the only one not in a costume) that devolves into a mock trial. McGoohan is sentenced to death and… well, it’s not death as we know it. It is the sentence of isolation, as the inhabitants in The Village turn on him. Where before McGoohan had worked to help him, now he is shut off from them… and this, along with the loss of an old colleague Dutton is a heavy weight as the pars close on him at the end of the episode.

You may note there is not much of a plot synopsis here. That’s correct, because the plot is not important here – the themes and visuals presented are. It’s a good episode, though not a favorite, and is more of a piece of art than an episode of a TV show. It is provocative and the not-so-subtle subtext of death is not one that appeals to everyone.

It ends, as with many episodes before and after, rather hopelessly. It gets a little better in the next episode.. but not much.

Here it is, in one minute – and yes, you probably need to watch the full episode to figure it out.