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October 4, 2015

The Prisoner: The Chimes of Big Ben

by Michael Sciannamea, posted Jun 28th 2006 12:04PM

(S01E05) I've always liked this particular episode because of the excellent acting of the late Leo McKern ("Rumpole of the Bailey") as the new Number 2. Although he is doing everything "by hook or by crook" to extract information from Number 6, he seems to be doing it with a twinkle in his eye, if that makes any sense. Plus he's got a very infectious laugh, even when he's scheming against Number 6.

This is a very taut episode--not a lot of extraneous material. It's a simple storyline of Number 2 wanting to find out why Number 6 resigned. Number 6 does say that it was "a matter of conscience," but that's not good enough for Number 2. In the meantime, we are introduced to Number 8, an attractive female spy from Estonia who is a new "resident" of the Village. Number 2 then "treats" Number 6 to view some of the tactics that are used to extract information from prisoners, and it's pretty rough stuff. In fact, Number 8, who happens to be an Olympic medal-winning swimmer, attempts to escape by swimming out to sea, but the ever-present Rover reels her back in.

Number 6, who is not exactly sure of Number 8's intentions, begins to warm to her, and they begin to flesh out an elaborate escape plan. At the same time, Number 2 encourages Number 6 to enter the Village's arts and crafts exhibiton, and he obliges by carving an extract piece, which looks like the hull of a boat, after chopping down a tree. Later at the exhibit, the entries all have a similar theme (you'll have to watch the episode to find out), except for Number 6's piece, who when asked about it, says, "It means what it is."

After the exhibition, Number 6 and Number 8 execute their escape. With help from an ally of Number 8, they are placed in crates and are trucked, shipped, and flown over a period of roughly 12 hours to London. Of course, suffice to say things didn't go as they planned. And the "Chimes of Big Ben" play an important role toward the end of this story.

Anyway, this is an interesting episode and as you continue to watch the series, there are parts of this story that will play a much more prominent role down the road.

Until next time

Be seeing you!

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Toby OB

Wentworth Miller is carved out of wood as far as his acting goes, as opposed to McGoohan who has the most interesting, off-beat line deliveries ever.

"The Chimes Of Big Ben" is probably my favorite episode of the series and I think most of that can be chalked up to Leo McKern's playful presence as Number Two. (I've always wanted to get my hands on that chess king piece carved in his likeness!)

The episode also has what could be argued as the best dialogue exchange from the show, when Number Two expounds on his pragmatic view of the world and the situation they are all stuck in; how both sides in the Cold War are the same and just ataring into a mirror.

It culminates with:

Number Six: The whole world as the Village?
Number Two: Yes, that is my dream. What's your dream, Number Six?
Number Six: To be the first man on the moon.
(paraphrased, of course)

June 29 2006 at 4:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

WOW! i'm still waiting for season 1 of "prison break" to be released...LOL! is it still running in the UK? even patrick mc goohan(the original prisoner) couldn't hold a candle to wentworth miller, in this debate! at least the "village" has more privilges, than fox river pen.

June 28 2006 at 2:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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