AMC just finished the three-night special The Prisoner. The series follows Jim Caviezel’s Number Six as he tries to escape “The Village,” an odd little town in the middle of the desert. The Village is populated by people named with numbers who believe the Village is all that there is to the world. Number Two (played by Sir Ian Mckellen) oversees the Village and acts as Number Six’s principle antagonist in escaping back to the real world.
This will spoil the ending, as I’m attempting to summarize and interpret it right after the cut. For full disclosure, I never saw the original British series, so all I know is what Wikipedia tells me. I make no comparisons to it anyway, so you don’t need to have seen it either to read my post. If anyone has insight from the original series that sheds light on the new one, feel free to comment.
In the final episode, Number Six and Number Two’s real-world selves (Michael and Mr. Curtis respectively) meet. Mr. Curtis discusses the nature and purpose of the Village. Essentially, Mrs. Curtis is a biochemist who discovered access to a new layer of consciousness. Helen uses Summakor to select people with life problems – from hating the world to drug addictions to being mentally unstable and so on – and somehow bring a form of their consciousnesses into this new layer.
This layer is the Village, letting people live lives away from their real-world problems so they can learn to be happy and take that feeling back with them to the real world. In its simplest form, the Village is therapy through role play.
Village Program Metaphor
Prior to the premier of The Prisoner, AMC aired the entire Matrix trilogy. I had a discussion with a Facebook friend about this being AMC hinting at the Village being a virtual reality world the inhabitants are plugged into. I objected at the thought because I felt it would be too obvious and clichéd. Luckily that is not the case, but really, it’s not that far off.
Let’s look at the Village like this: Two/Curtis’ wife is a dreamer who maintains the Village together within her mind. She is the server in which the Village program exists. Two and his lackeys are system moderators and lesser moderators respectively. The people within the Village who are consciousnesses of real-world people, they are avatars using numbers as usernames.
Following this line of thinking actually helps explain aspects of the series. For instance, undercover agents tracking down dreamers in the third episode “Anvil.” These rogue dreamers bring in aspects of the real world into the Village, like 313 drawing the Statue of Liberty. Bringing in the real world breaks the suspense of disbelief in the therapeutic role playing within the Village. Going back into system terminology, rogue dreamers bring in outside malware to the Village programming, keeping it from functioning at its optimal capability.
But how is outside information into the Village malware? Look at Six and Three-One-Three. His influence on her about an outside world causes her to have more and more flashes of the real world. Prior, she was doing well in the Village. As Mr. Curtis says in the real world, Three-One-Three’s real persona Sara was doing well in recovering from her childhood trauma, but then she began to relapse. This is likely due to Six’s influence on her.
Another aspect this explains is the appearance of the sinkholes. They begin to appear after Two/Curtis’ wife Helen awakens the first time. Later, when Eleven-Twelve awakens her, she mentions the holes appear every time she’s awake. Helen must stay in a medicated coma to maintain the Village, while in the real world, she is a vegetable constantly mumbling.
Maintaining the Village seems to take up multiple levels of her consciousness. When Helen, being the server holding the Village, concurrently runs one of her consciousnesses, such as her being awake in the Village, the integrity of the Village weakens. The holes are gaps or glitches in the Village where the server can’t buffer with too many programs running. Kind of difficult to up the RAM in the human mind.
The Ending and Beyond the System Transfer
Eleven-Twelve kills his mother in the Village. A layer of Helen’s consciousness is gone. The Village forms even more holes and begins to fall apart with no stopping it. Why? Because part of the server is damaged and corrupted. It can no longer function with enough capacity to maintain the Village. The solution is to get a new server – a new dreamer – to hold the Village. This is Three-One-Three/Sara.
Obviously Six/Michael objects. Instead of simply taking a level of consciousness for rehabilitation, having her function as the home of the Village leaves her a vegetable in both worlds. However, to save her from her inner torment, he helps her do so. Therefore, storage and operation of the Village transfer from Helen and Mr. Curtis to Sara and Michael respectively.
And so Six/Michael/new Two takes over administration of the Village, while Three-One-Three/Sara takes up maintaining the Village. Six is hopeful that he can make the Village good, that he can make it work. How? Perhaps less stringent moderation that kidnaps Village inhabitants. Maybe instituting some sort of choice, even in a subconscious level ala the Matrix trilogy. Or maybe no substantial change will happen and the Village will keep changing over. Who knows?