We see a Western parody of the standard pre-titles resignation sequence normally placed at the beginning of most episodes. A man, dressed in Western gear, rides across a plain and turns in his Sherrif's badge. Walking away from the job, he's attacked by a gang of cowboys and is dragged to the gates of a town called 'Harmony'.
It's clear that he isn't intended to leave, every escape simply results in him being dragged back. The town Judge wants him to become the new Sheriff, but the man refuses, particularly the guns that go with the job.
He befriends Kathy, who works in the saloon but the Judge uses her as emotional blackmail to emphasise that they can never leave. Kathy is hounded by a mute psychotic 'Kid' whose dangerous homicidal tendencies make things even more difficult.
Taking up the Sherrif's job in order to buy them some time, the man persuades Kathy that they must attempt to escape and are helped by Jim, a local man who is their only ally. However, this has not gone unoticed and the man finds Jim dead in his office. The Judge tells the Kid that Kathy is getting friendly with the man. The Kid's jealousy leads him to murder Kathy in a disturbing scene.
The man buries the dead, returns to his office and straps on the guns he has so far refused to wear. As he leaves, he is faced by The Kid and after a shootout, the Kid himself lies dead. The man now goes to the saloon to deal with the Judge and his men. In an intense gunfight, he kills all of the men but is shot in the head by the Judge at close range.
He awakens to find himself as No. 6 once more, dazed and disorientated but physically unharmed. He is surrounded by all the Western trapping but they're all cardboard cutouts. Clearly he's been drugged and made to act out the whole thing.
This is confirmed as we cut to the interior of the Green Dome where the Judge is in reality No. 2 and Kathy and the Kid are his assistants. The object of the exercise has been to break down The Prisoner's mental defences in the artificial environment. However, all of them became carried away, they lost control and the experiment is a clear failure. No. 6 enters the room and looks at them with contempt. No words are necessary and he leaves, his secrets and indentity intact. However, immersion in their own roleplaying has had a damaging effect on the real-life "Kid" and "Kathy" and tragedy strikes again.
Written by: David Tomblin
& Ian Rakoff (from an idea by Frank Maher)
Director: David Tomblin|
David Bauer (Judge)|
Alexis Kanner (Kid)
Valerie French (Cathy)
Gordon Tanner (Town Elder)
Gordon Sterne (Bystander)
Michael Balfour (Will)
Larry Taylor (Mexican Sam)
Monti de Lyle (Dignitary)
Douglas Jone (Horse Dealer)|
Bill Nick (Gunman)
Les Crawford (Gunman)
Frank Maher (Gunman)
Max Faulkner (Horseman)
Bill Cummings (Horseman)
Eddie Eddon (Horseman)
There is no standard title sequence for this episode but the key scenes are cleverly parodied in classic Western style. There are no written titles either, although some television companies, underestimating the intelligence of their viewers, superimposed the words "The Prisoner" over some of the opening shots.
Alexis Kanner, who played "The Kid", had many anecdotes about this production over the years, including one about bets being placed on who would actually draw first in the final shootout between him and Patrick McGoohan. According to his story, after examining the individual frames of film, it transpired that he had been first to draw. The Kid had dialogue in first drafts of the script but it was finally decided to make him a mute and seem infinitely more dangerous.
Five sequences within the main story hit censorship problems and were either deleted or re-edited prior to transmission. These were: Johnson's hanging, the fight with Zeke, The Prisoner being dragged back to Harmony and both sequences where Kathy is strangled. It was not until 1984 that the episode was shown complete in the UK.
The town of Harmony was the Borehamwood backlot which had been redressed and reused several times in the series.
Frank Maher (pictured right), who was both stunt co-ordinator and McGoohan's stunt double for the entire series, receives his only screen credit in this episode as "Third Gunman". Maher, himself a world-class quick-draw, taught both McGoohan and Kanner to handle their guns like professionals and choreographed all the fight scenes, including the wonderful final shootout where he ends up crashing through a window in classic western style. It was from his suggestion that this episode came to be written.