Revisiting The Prisoner, Part 9: Wherein some pawns move themselves

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

“Checkmate”

Now this is another great episode, with McGoohan leading a mini-rebellion against The Village… one that is thwarted when his own leadership abilities and charisma makes one of his co-conspirators think he was not a prisoner but a warder… Hmm, like in “Free For All”, McGoohan leading members of The Village… Another theme that will have a big pay-off in the final episode.

Two major highlights of this episode – first is the chess game that starts the episode, that uses Villagers as living pieces. When one pawn decides to move himself, there are severe repercussions, and of course the game itself is an obvious metaphor for The Village itself… obvious, but perfect. The second highlight is Peter Wyngarde as the New Number Two – his performance is one of the better ones in the series, and many think of him as the “best” Number Two. He, like McGoohan, had a great run as a TV spy in the shows Department S and his character’s spinoff show Jason King (some say Austin Powers is his direct descendant). He is also well known as Klytus in the cult classic Flash Gordon.

Not a “must-watch” episode of the show, but this, like the previous episode, is one of the seven episodes that “count” according to Patrick McGoohan – so there is that. Up next is one of my favorite episodes, but before then. here is Prisoner-in-a-minute: