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November 28, 2014

The Prisoner: The General

by Michael Sciannamea, posted Jul 12th 2006 1:27PM

(S01E07) Number 6 contemplating his next moveIn this episode we don't see too much of an effort by the powers-that-be in the Village to get Number 6 to give information as to why he resigned. Here, we get to see up close some of the reasons why the villagers seem so robotic and obediant and incapable of expressing any individual thoughts or opinions.

One clue might be SpeedLearn, an instruction platform that allows a person to learn and comprehend a university level course in just three minutes. (A precursor to the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Courses?) The courses are taught by "The Professor" with support from "The General". Sounds like a great idea, doesn't it? Who needs to sit in a classroom for months on end and be inundated with useless information?

We then see a man being pursued by a mob of people on the beach, and Number 6 discovering a cassette recorder in the sand, which turns out to be some sort of message from The Professor that doesn't exactly fit Number 2's expectations. (BTW, this is the same Number 2 who appeared in "A, B, and C".)

Anyway, this episode focuses quite a bit on mind control and how it certainly can be abused by those doing the controlling how those being controlled can viewed as "knowledgeable cabbages", as Number 6 puts it. It's interesting to see how the course is delivered through a video screen and how quickly the villagers pick up on the information and are able to be tested and deliver the right answers. But isn't that what mind control is all about? The ability to have the "right" answers given at any time desired? (A philosophical question that needs further pursuing at another time.)

Number 6 also doesn't spend a whole lot of time planning his escape from the Village--in this case, he conspires with a member of the Education Board (Number 12) to foul things up and get The Professor's "real message" out to the villagers. Number 6, through some good old fashioned secret agent methods, manages to work his way into the projection room and attempt to sabotage the next course delivery.

He is discovered by security, and is then taken to the board room and questioned. Number 2 then deigns to show Number 6 how SpeedLearn and all knowledge is dispensed to the villagers. We learn that "The General" is a huge computer which is fed all of the questions and then spits out the answers. (When I say "huge", I mean it looks like the old UniVac computers of the early 1950s. Definitely not a laptop.) Number 6 then requests permission to ask The General a question, and suffice to say the answer turns out to be very interesting.

I've always liked this particular episode because you really get a chance to look "behind the scenes" to see how sinister the powers are at The Village. In the past, we've seen them use drugs and sophisticated torture methods in order to extract information, and now we're seeing how they can use mind control to have villagers behave the way they want.

So until next week

Be seeing you!

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