Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Who Are No 1 And V?

Years ago, DC Comics published a comic book sequel to The Prisoner TV series. My memory of the comic book series is that it did not live up to expectations and I did not keep the copies that I had bought.

The mini-series did have some high points:

years later, the former No 6 is now an obsessive recluse living on the Village island;
a younger character is shipwrecked, either by accident or by someone else's design, on the island;
the Leo McKern No 2 comes out of prison, travels to the island and fights with No 6, two old men struggling on the beach;
there is an interpretation of the climactic scene in "Fall Out" - No 6 went mad;
 identification with any number, even with No 1, was a denial of his earlier refusal to be numbered.

But, over-all, I thought that the series did not make very much sense, did not go anywhere and did not lead to any conclusion.

In an earlier post, "007, No 6 and V," I compared the James Bond novels and The Prisoner with Alan Moore's graphic novel, V For Vendetta, and asked "Who was V?" I now want to compare this question with "Who is No 1?"  

The Prisoner, set in a Cold War spy thriller scenario, raised certain kinds of questions:

Is No 6 identical with John Drake, the secret agent played by Patrick McGoohan in his previous TV series, Danger Man?
Why did he resign?
Which "side" runs the Village?
Who is No 1?
Is No 1 concealed in the Village or located elsewhere? (After all, the Village is part of a larger organization.)
Is the mute butler No 1? (He is present throughout, at the center of things.)
Where is the Village?
Are there two or more identical Villages in different parts of the world? (Different locations are cited. There are mountains near the Village at the beginning of "Many Happy Returns" but not at the end. At the end of "Fall Out," the characters do not sail but drive from the Village to London.)

When "Who is No 1?" is answered, the other questions are not answered but become irrelevant. The series has been an allegory for society. I am unfree because I have allowed myself to be and do not even realize that I have done this. It no longer matters why he resigned or which side runs the Village. Whether it is the East or the West, I am No 1, the cause of my unfreedom.

Similarly, the answer that I suggest to "Who is V?" renders irrelevant some questions that must otherwise arise, like:

How does this one character know so much about all the others?
How can he be so confident that the police will not find him hidden in the heart of London?

The answer given in The Prisoner is that the villain is the hero.
The answer that I suggest for V For Vendetta is that the hero is the author.

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