Monday, November 16, 2009

The Prisoner: Guarded Optimism

Color me guardedly optimistic after watching the first two episodes of the new Prisoner mini-series.  Jim Caviezel is no Patrick McGoohan, but who is?  The remake is a bit broader in scope, touching on the lives of other people in the Village besides Number Six and his interrogators.  But it does capture at least some of the ambiguous weirdness of the original, which was my main concern.  Currently, my theory is that a number of people are hooked up to a virtual reality machine, though I really hope I'm wrong. What do you all everybody think thus far?

Update: November 19, 2009

I finally got around to watching the last two episodes of the mini-series yesterday.  After sleeping on it for a night, here's my take.  And wouldn't you know, this interpretation is heavily influenced by LOST.  Number Two is basically like Kelvin Inman, with Number Six as his Desmond David Hume.

Some years ago, Number Two's wife, M2, discovered a plane of existence that can only be accessed subconsciously.  She created the very first Village in her own mental image.  That's why wraps are so ubiquitous -- they're her favorite food.  Two and M2 recognized the therapeutic potential of the Village as a mental respite from the material world.  The couple hatched a plan to bring mentally troubled souls to the Village, where their minds could be healed by the simple virtues of small-town life. 

Six's job at Summakor was to find appropriate subjects for therapy through his surveillance.  One such subject was Number 147, who exists as a driver in both NYC and the Village.  It's not completely clear why 147 is in the Village, but his NYC incarnation alludes in passing to getting his daughter back soon.  The implication is that he temporarily lost custody of her through some fault of his own -- probably abuse.  Maybe 147's subconscious was sent to the Village for therapy to resolve his anger issues.

Unfortunately, the Village reality could only be sustained at a terrible price.  As a mental construct of M2, it depended on her dreams to exist.  That's why the holes began opening when she awoke -- the fabric of Village reality was eroding with her every waking minute.   This forced Two to keep M2 in a state of almost constant sedation and REM sleep.  What was supposed to be their escape, where the couple could raise the son they weren't able to have in the material world, became their prison instead. 

We're led believe that Six is the Prisoner, striving mightily to escape.  In my view, however, the real prisoners are Two and M2. Most of what we see is Two's plan to manipulate Six into taking over for M2 as the Village dreamer.  The analogy here is to Kelvin's attempt to dupe Desmond into assuming Swan button duty on LOST.  Ultimately, Two succeeds by exploiting Six's love for Number 313, and the latter two become the new Two and M2.  At least, that's my interpretation -- what do you all everybody think?

As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!


neoloki said...

Great, I came over here, 'cause I thought you might put a blurb up on The Prisoner.

Haven't watched yet Big, but I plan on finding these eps on line and watching them. Seems like my kind of show. Will comment more once I watch.

Minor conundrum: a friend just let me the original series, so do I watch that first or do I watch the remake first. Possible problem, I won't be able to enjoy the remake after watching the original because remake's are notoriously shallow. Also, I don't care much for campy '60's/70's visual effects. worried I won't be able to take it seriously, the original of course.

Capcom said...

I didn't hate it (like V) so far, heheh. Reposted from previous thread: I was really relieved that The Prisoner had a fairly unique look to it. I am so tired of the dark, gloomy, dirty metal look in SciFi since the 90s, and of course The Island Thing is very occupied at the moment. A vast open desert was a nice change of TV pace, IMO.

It was filmed at this resort:

One thing that I'm trying not to expect of this version is that it will embrace the same exact mental elements of the original. At that time the world's mindset was intensely about Big Brother, altered states, mind control, rampant revolution, rebelling against living a fake conforming life, etc. I'm looking forward to seeing how the new producers present this version within our current global society's electronic-blase perspective. It's a tough act to follow even without those differences. But I thought that they made a good effort to set up a kind of Big Brother atmosphere via the reveal of Six's former occupation.

I'm hopeful as well. My advice Neoloki is to watch the original after viewing the new one. That way you can enjoy (if it's good) the remake on it's own, and then dig into the freaky original with abandon. Sort of like getting a backstory after the fact. :-)

Bigmouth said...

You know, I was all ready to advise neoloki to check out the original first, but what Capcom says makes a lot of sense. Generally, people who didn't see the original seem to enjoy the remake more. The only downside I can see is that you miss out on the winks and nods to the original. Be seeing you!

I also agree with Capcom that the whole cyberpunk metal sci-fi look has been done to death.

neoloki said...

Thanks, Cap. and Big. Watching the remake first is my inclination right now. I am really not all that interested in most TV shows, but this one has caught my intention.
Maybe HBO will be coming out with some good stuff soon. They are supposed to adapt an adult fantasy series next year. Sorry, the name escapes me now.

Bigmouth said...

I think Game of Thrones is the HBO pilot neoloki mentions. I'll try to update this post as the week progresses, but I've got some pressing work commitments that may delay me. In the mean time, feel free to continue the discussion on this post.

Thunderstorm said...

I'm writing this an hour before the newest episode airs. There are 6 episodes, does this mean two each night? Or are they two hour episodes? I can't tell by searching, wiki or imdb doesn't clarify.

I have enough distance with the original to have appreciated this new version quite a bit all on it's own merit.

Neoloki, I would agree with the others and say maybe try this newer one first.

Wasn't sure how much I would like Jesus Caviezel in the role but he seems to be okay.

I had to Google the cute little English actress "313", because I thought I knew who she was. Ruth Wilson is her name, looking at her credits, I wouldn't know why I recognize her. Maybe from the Golden Globe ceremony, she was nominated for Jayne Eyre, which I never saw but I do watch the GG ceremonies.

Greg Tramel said...

i'm tempted to think the Village was created by Summakor (whom 6 resigned from)as an experimental testing ground or maybe they are all in a drug induced coma like #2's wife

Summakor's products include a drug called Lucidia in addition to Summakor’s expertise which includes "environment monitoring and optimization, crowdsourced co-monitoring solutions, computational decision analysis, automated metacognition studies, decision theory modification, cognitive resource management, surveillance analysis, and many other advanced fields."


Greg Tramel said...

maybe somebody wants to apply for 6's old job

Job Title: Pattern recognition expert

Greg Tramel said...

looks like 6 was investigating the Village while he still worked at Summakor
6's investigative Wiki

Capcom said...

Thank you Thunderstorm! Yes, Jane Eyre! Heheh, yeah, I watch Masterpiece Theater religiously.

Interesting links Greg, as usual, thanks!

Thunderstorm said...

If Caviezel Six doesn't want 313, I'll take her. Although she'll probably need the DNA drug, I'd settle for that.

It seems they are going for somewhat of a definitive end here, which is probably a good thing.

I'm really enjoying it, although it does seem to be showing it's hand pretty strongly with regard to this being a simulated reality.

I guess that's not a bad thing either. It's strange enough as is.
And it wraps up tomorrow night, so I guess my previous question was answered. 2 episodes a night, 3 nights.

What the hell is the hole?
The way out of the simulation?

neoloki said...

Yeah, Big, Game of Thrones. Have you read any of the books or do you know when they are going to release the Pilot for this. Understand your busy. reply when you have some free time. Glad I came over here.

Anybody have a link to download or stream The Prisoner, let me know. I am sure I will find it eventually.

I wish Big had this site going when Carnivale came out. I am still pissed we never got a 3rd season.

Capcom said...

Heheh, Thunderstorm, you said "wraps". :o) What is it with the wraps anyway, did I miss something? Maybe because it's just a nice tidy way to eat in a nice tidy little community? I'll never look at my Sunday-after-church-turkey-apple-brie-wrap lunches in the same way again!

Good point about the holes. At the break they mentioned a clue that they are linked somehow to 2's wife, but I didn't get the connection yet, if we were supposed to.

One thing that I'd like to get some clarification on is: now that the Village seems to be breaking down, are we to think that the arrival of 6 is the only catalyst to the snowball effect that's now happening in the apparent fall of the society? Even though there were Dreamers before he got there, is he just the force that pulled them and all the silent dissenters together to achieve a greater revolt movement? Also looking forward to finding out if he was brought there to get broken down or to break down someone else (with his special observation skills). I haven't watched more than a couple obscure eps from the original since it first aired, so I can't remember hardly any of the detail-nuances. Or the ending.

Did you try AMC for episodes Neoloki? I haven't checked there yet, but someone said that they also have the originals available there as well.

Bigmouth said...

I figured the wraps are some kind of reference to straitjackets. I have a feeling some of the Village's residents are in mental institutions in our world. They alternate between periods of catatonia (i.e., while in the Village) punctuated by periods of violent disorientation when they jump from the Village to our reality.

Bigmouth said...

BTW, I meant to ask, does anyone else think they're telling the story in three different times simultaneously? There's (1) the NYC prelude, (2) after Six lands in the desert, and (3) in the cave with the group that includes Six's student. Could that part in the cave be their escape?

Capcom said...

Interesting thought about the wraps, Big. A very "restrained" sandwich. :-)

At least three different times.

Greg Tramel said...

and in turn the Village wraps them up in the straightjacket of illusions

maybe just 2 different times/places and the holes are the wormholes between the 2

New York world and The Village world (with the tunnels being part of The Village world)

i thought it was interesting that 2 said to his wife you are home but then added "in the Village" making me think there must be another place they also call home or at least used to

Capcom said...

Yes, I thought that was odd too Greg.

Thunderstorm said...

Are we all just confused or what?


Greg Tramel said...


really can't compare the new to the original, 2 different takes altogether

Capcom said...

Well, I think that I got the overall idea, but for a lot of the finer details I'm still stumped. I hope that we can find an official-ish analysis of it somewhere online.

Capcom said...

Wiki has a pretty good but brief breakdown of the episodes:

I seem to have interpreted what I did of the overall plot correctly, but I would still like to find some explanation of the finer details. I suppose that something like that will be on line in time.

Bigmouth said...

Just a heads up that I've updated the post with my interpretation.

Capcom said...

Yep, that's pretty much what I thought. But...other than some kind of physical hookups in isolation tanks, how does everyone's consciousness crossover into this same Village?

Thunderstorm said...

I agree Big. Nice recap.

I still don't understand the Tower.

Was the Tower sort of a portal between the worlds?

I enjoyed it as well, even not knowing every last detail, it's appreciated that it wasn't dumbed down.

I'd rather have intentionally bizarre, if not outright pretense, than brow-beaten, lame-brained exposition.

Greg Tramel said...

yeah, for the most part that's how i saw it, i would add i think the holes started appearing because the Villager's were questioning the Village reality ESPECIALLY the son

Capcom, i'd be tempted to say the drug induced wife drew the collective unconscious of the Villagers into her world while they were at the same time living in New York because i think that what be a unique idea but i think the show implied they were in the Summakor building drugged in hospital beds so the tower was were they physically were so it was just a hazy part of the subconcious

Greg Tramel said...

i agree 6 was a Prisoner and the only time he could let his guard down was the brief time when his wife was awake with the son

Bigmouth said...

Here's a very interesting interview with the writer of the show. He says the towers weren't originally intended to evoke the Twin Towers, though he understands why people connect them. Rather, the towers were supposed to evoke passage through gateways and portals in mythology, as Thunder surmises.

Also, I don't think the Village residents were hooked up to anything in NYC. Remember, we saw 147 driving around the city with Six. I think patients were probably taken to Summakor, which performed some process that linked their subconscious with the Village, then let them go free. The point of the therapy was that people could live their lives without even realizing they were patients.

Capcom said...

I guess that it would depend on whether they "disappeared" for any length of time while in the alternative consciousness, even a short while, between their previous lives and the reproccessed lives. And, if the parts in NYC were all happening simultaneously to the Village time, or before and after.

I'll go read that link now.

Bigmouth said...

My impression was that Village and NYC time were roughly synchronous with characters performing parallel acts in both realities, at least near the end.

Capcom said...

And their connection to Mrs.2 was psychic only (with possibly drug-induced enhancement or catalyst)?

Anonymous said...


What surprised me was the impressively strong theme - that the inhabitants
were only conscious of their (psychological/physical) island - the Village.
It had me grasping about for a First Cause - then I found :
Quantum, consciousness and panpsychism: a solution to the hard problem
- a paper out of China theorizing that consciousness is gathered from the environment
- and phenomena such as Telepathy, the minds eye, remote viewing - can be
accounted for by the Quantum Simultaneity reality and entanglement.
The show was demonstrating a limited focus of consciousness - yet seemingly
sufficient for the general inhabitants of the environment.

What lost me as a viewer was the blatantly obvious subliminal indoctrination,
propounding an Evil Medical intervention with psycho-active drugs.
The writers appear to have missed the intellectual vehicle of natural control
of human consciousness (focus) via environmental (or astronomical) factors, or a portal to an alternate reality --
and digressed to "Evil Scientists versus outraged Free Agent" mode.

I tell myself not to tolerate the premise - further viewing will only accumulate
derision and disgust.
I'm not going back.
If I find anything that fulfills the Hope - I'll post again.

Anonymous said...

Though not exactly all sweetness and light - Actions speak louder than words
in :
Enemy Mine (1985)