THE UNMUTUAL PRISONER ARTICLE ARCHIVE
Adapted from an article written by Jane Rowe in 1999, with her kind permission.
FALL OUT. HASTILY CONTRIVED CONCLUSION, OR STREAM OF CONCIOUSNESS GENIUS?
It would appear that the majority of opinion amongst "Prisoner" fans is that "Fall Out" is a well-liked episode and a satisfactory ending to "The Prisoner". Personally I disagree with this for several reasons, as I will now outline. My main objection is the fact that this ending is perceived as being inevitable and what must have been intended. However, Patrick McGoohan himself has said that he had no idea how the series would end and that he wrote "Fall Out" in 36 hours just prior to filming. To me this implies that desperation took over and "Fall Out" was the best that could be done at short notice. You might say that despite this it was still written by the series' creator and, therefore, must reflect what he intended, but how many of you have left an essay or report to the last minute and then had to throw something together? The results may approximate what you intended, but are probably not up to the standard of which you are capable. I feel that Patrick McGoohan wasted a lot of potential, the series was innovative and original and had brought up a lot of concepts and ideas, all of which were thrown away in the last episode.
A second thing that annoys me is that if you watch the episode literally it makes a nonsense out of so much which has gone before, especially the fact that Number 6 didn't know what was going on as surely he would have done if he was Number 1. "Ah, but it was allegorical" I hear you cry - that's convenient! You needn't worry or ponder about any of it then.
My third comment is that people seem to accept that the last face seen as Number 1, i.e. Number 6 himself, is the real Number 1- Why? Surely in keeping with the series and this episode nothing is what it seems. I think it is fairly likely that this was just another mask, I mean let's face it Number 1 didn't hang around long enough for Number 6 to investigate further. If it wasn't another mask it could have been someone like Curtis sent in to confuse the issue. I know Patrick McGoohan said the most evil thing he could think of was the evil side of oneself, but who's to say that he thought of this at the time of writing "Fall Out" - this sounds to me like a justification he could have made up when the episode was ill received. I like to think that Number 6 wasn't Number 1, in that way I can hang on to 16/17th of the series and make some sense of it all.
As a concession to all you "Fall Out" fans, I must say I liked the end when Number 6 is credited as still being "Prisoner", I like the idea that the process is cyclical.
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