The Prisoner Episode 3: “A, B, and C”

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Directed by Pat Jackson

Written by Anthony Skene

Airdate: October 13, 1967

In “A, B, and C” The Prisoner explored a concept that would guide the 2009 Christopher Nolan film Inception – dream infiltration. In the episode Number Six is drugged with high powered sedatives, allowing his captors watch his dreams on a screen in a ploy to learn why he resigned.

The scientists are able to control the setting of the dreams, but not the actions of Number Six.  In the first dream a defector fails to gain any information.  Next in “B” a female spy attempts to spring a trap that also goes wrong. By the third attempt, Number Six gets wise to their methods and sabotages the dream.

There’s a nice structure and visual style on “A, B, and C”. The dream sequences, set at a posh party,  parody the James Bond films and other spy genre clichés.  McGoohan’s performance also verges on self-parody.

As for the larger arc of The Prisoner, “A, B, and C” reveals Number Six did not defect to the other side, thus heightening the mystery of the character.  And the village appears more nefarious with their use of experimental drugs.  The episode also raises the stakes, the war will extend into many theatres of battle, mostly within the mind.

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