Monday, 5 November 2012

The Prisoner: Change Of Mind

It's not easy being Number Six, but he clearly finds some degree of comfort and self-satisfaction in his refusal to conform, achieving Village superstar status by virtue of being so difficult to break. In ‘Change Of Mind’, Number Six is officially declared ‘unmutual’ and, funnily enough, he doesn’t like it. Ignored by the other Villagers, and scheduled for ‘conversion’ (something like a lobotomy) Six finds life in the Village increasingly difficult, especially when he is grabbed by a mob and forcibly taken for surgery. The ‘unmutual’ thing is all a ploy, however, by which the new Number Two (the creepy and insidious John Sharp) hopes to soften him up by pretending to mess about with his brain box. It doesn’t work, of course, and Number Two is forced to move his little fat legs rather quickly when Six uses a bit of manipulation of his own to turn the tables on him.

A good but slightly frenzied episode, ‘Change of Mind’ builds on previous stories like ‘Hammer Into Anvil’ and ‘It’s Your Funeral’ by showing The Village not as a whimsical (albeit very sinister) holiday camp, but as a seething cauldron of hatred and resentment, a place of mental and physical violence and, when it suits the powers that be, mob rule. There is perhaps a study to be done on the REST of the inhabitants, the garishly dressed non-entities that aren’t staff or Number Six, the ones that attend the parades and enter the art shows and shuffle interminably about in Mini Mokes from boundary to boundary: what are they all about, and why are they so easy to manipulate? Are they irreparably broken, or just indifferent? And don’t they ever get sick of brass band music?

Pitch: how about a show based on the perspective another Prisoner, one who has long since given in and now just sits and watches Number Six rush about all day long, shouting and failing to escape. In this world, Number Six is a bit of a dickhead, and rude with it.