The No.2 from "The Chimes of Big Ben" is brought back to the Village in another attempt to break No.6. He observes No.6 as he is pacing in his cottage, flicks through the prisoner's file and flashbacks are played out on the observation screen. In a phone call he says that they were using the wrong approach, and explains forcefully that a procedure known as "Degree Absolute" is the only way.
At night, No.6 is brainwashed by No. 2 using one of the "pulsator" lamps. He sings him nursery rhymes and when No.6 awakes, his mind has regressed back to childhood. With the Butler, they descend to the 'Embryo Room', far beneath the Green Dome. The door is locked, a countdown clock is activated, and from this point none of them can leave for exactly one week.
No.2 takes him back through Shakespeare's "seven ages of man" (notably omitting the age of the lover) in an attempt to discover why No.6 resigned. They go through the different stages of No.6's life, No.2 hoping to make him talk and asking "Why did you resign" every time he detects a weakness. No.2 plays the authority figure: he is the prisoner's father and then his teacher, coach, employer, judge, officer and prison guard. No.6 plays the parts of the son, student, athlete, employee, accused, soldier and prisoner.
Throughout the psychological tests a spotlight shines on No.6, apparently keeping him under it's influence. However, as he gains in strength, the spotlight turns instead on No.2 who is increasingly having difficulty staying in control.
With most of the conditioning gone, No. 6 finds himself locked in a large cage and berating No. 2 through the bars. No.2's behaviour is erratic and at one point seems to become subservient, telling No. 6 that the cage is actually mobile and that it's stocked with provisions. No. 2 pours out a glass of wine and becomes panicky as he realises that time has almost run out and "only one of us can leave". He desperately drinks and, as the countdown clock relentlessly reaches zero, he collapses dead at No. 6's feet. The door slides open and the Supervisor enters the chamber. "What do you desire?" he asks. "No.1" is No 6's reply. "I'll take you", says the Supervisor, and they exit as the episode ends.
Written and directed by
Leo McKern (Number Two)
Angelo Muscat (The Butler)
Peter Swanwick (Supervisor)
John Cazabon (Umbrella Man)
This episode uses a very small cast and sees the return of Leo McKern as Number Two and Angelo Muscat as the Butler is much in evidence in this episode. The credits list John Maxim as "Number 86" although no such character actually appears.
Filming took place quite early on in the production run and the story was made back-to-back with "The Chimes Of Big Ben" which is why Leo McKern looks exactly the same despite this story supposedly taking place after the Prisoner's other escapades.
We see extracts from "Arrival" , "Free For All" and "Chimes" as part of a flash-back sequence. As the story progresses we learn a lot about Number Six's early life and it's based somewhat on McGoohan's own life experiences. This is the episode where those looking to establish a "Danger Man/Secret Agent" link choose to hear Leo McKern's character say "See me in the morning, Drake!" But no. According to the continuity script and with careful listening, it's "See me in the morning break". The quality of the hardware is a bit mixed and at one point it would appear that you can brainwash somebody using a hairdryer with a lightbulb fitted in it.
Production date: March 1967