Review: The Prisoner - Part Six: Checkmate
by Jason Hughes, posted Nov 18th 2009 1:30AM
(E06) Well, that's that. All wrapped up nice and neat with a bow. Glad it's all cleared up and everything makes perfect sense... Did you read the sarcasm in that statement?
At this point, I can't tell if fans of the original The Prisoner will embrace this new iteration of the concept, or feel betrayed by it. Don't get me wrong, once all the secrets lie revealed, they've developed a pretty neat concept, and on that could quite possibly have sustained more than six episodes even. But was it The Prisoner?
I will give credit to all of the actors for their conviction in these roles. Ruth Wilson and Jamie Campbell Bower were particularly impressive as 313 and 1112. The layers of emotion that 313 displayed in her closing scenes with Two, and later with Six were just tragically beautiful. And 1112... well, tragedy appears to be the name of the game in the new Prisoner.
As much as it's satisfying to see that I was right in thinking the Village was just some sort of artificial construct; that it wasn't really real at all, I'm still not sure what I think about it. It's been a few hours now since I saw the episode (AMC was kind enough to send me an advanced copy) and I'm not sure if a few hours more would offer me any more clarity.
I loved the complexity of the piece, and I think it is one of those projects that will come together nicely in subsequent viewings. At the same time, there were elements that were just kind of thrown in there and abandoned just as haphazardly, like Six's "family," 909 and even 415 who played such a pivotal role in both worlds and then just vanished as if she'd never mattered.
The Village must be more than just the sum of 1112's mother's mind as it was able to exist while she was awake, and after her death. The fact that someone else can just take over and pick up where she left off indicates it's a creature all its own. That Six wrapped up his adventure accepting his role as the new Two, as it were, thinking also that he can make the Village something nice.
You can read a lot into 313's tear at the end. She's clearly in the same trance-like state that 1112's mother was in, but also somewhat aware. Is she shedding a tear at the thought of Six becoming Two? Does she see his declaration that he can make a good Village as a betrayal of their love; she only said she'd take the pills until he could find a better way to maintain the Village.
It looked like the whole gambit was an exit strategy for Two, but that doesn't remain consistent with what we'd seen in previous episodes. Six went from just another number Two wanted to get in line, and when that didn't work he realized that Six's stubbornness might benefit his own desires to get on with his life.
What is less clear is how the dual consciousness works. Which 147 is real, or are they both real? The original left me with a lot of questions but at least I understood all that I'd seen. I'm not quite so sure I understand everything that just happened in the past six hours. The white ball was Six's fears?
And what was the point of 147? I thought he was going to be significant and then he just kind of wasn't. Yes, he lost a child so he could relate to Two's loss of 1112 after 1112 killed his mother and then himself, but was that the point? He sort of befriended Six but nothing was really done with that friendship either.
Maybe they did need some more episodes to flesh this into a more cohesive package, or maybe the disjointed episodes was the point. After all, the mind is never truly linear but rather a million disjointed thoughts colliding constantly in our brains. So The Prisoner is like one of those weird conversations where by the time you reach the end of it, you have no idea how you came to be talking about any of it.
Or it's nothing like that. Maybe next week, it'll all gel together and make perfect sense. I think they should have probably not made it The Prisoner, though. I'd have liked it better if it wasn't trying to be a remake of a classic whose concept wasn't in need of such a radical redesign. What did those of you who've never seen the original think?