EPISODE REVIEW: The Prisoner (Remake): “Darling” (Episode 4)

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Widely regarded as the worst episode of the original series, “Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling” tells the tale of Six being used by the village out in to the world to solve a problem for them. How do they know he’ll come back? Because they’ve done the old brain-switch-a-roo on him: His body is held hostage back in the Village while he’s running around in someone else’s skin. (Don’t ask.) In the process he meets up with his fiance, and we find out a few things about the spy’s heart.

As we’ve seen, most of these episodes have titles that reference titles from the original show, but don’t really have much in the way of similarity with ‘em. This episode is an exception: It’s about love outside of the village. It’s not a remake or even a near match, but at least the title seems less random this time out.

PLAY BY PLAY

So we’ve tried making Six a bus driver, and a snitch and a school teacher, none of which has made him crack. What’ll we try this week? Oh! I know! Let’s have him try out a dating agency! That’ll snap him, sure! “Great Expectations” charges ludicrous amounts of money, and is widely reputed as a soul-destroying con perpetrated by greedy hucksters that exploit lonely middle-aged people’s desperation for shameful monetary gain. So is that what we’re gonna’ subject Six to?

Surprisingly, kinda’, yeah.

So Six gets set up with a dating agency, and they instantly hook him up with his perfect match, “Lucy,” the preternaturally chesty chick that he had his one-night-stand with in New York before he woke up in the village. The Pretty Doctor seems reservedly annoyed by this, but does nothing to stop it. Six and the girl hit it off immediately, though she’s blind this time out. Their dialog in the diner is nearly identical to their dialog in New York in the first episode. She doesn’t remember that, of course, and claims to have been in the Village her whole life.

Six and her continue to hit it off for quite a while, and it’s rather straightforward romantic goo-goo eyes stuff, intercut with slightly better goo-goo eyes stuff back in New York, so we’ll just leave that alone for a bit, and see what others are doing.

Two’s son has stolen some of his mom’s pills and tells her he wants to know what’s in ‘em. She (Eventually) tells him that one is a very powerful sedative, another is a very powerful hallucinogen, and the third is completely unknown.

The Cab Driver has Six and the Pretty Doctor over to look at his sinkhole in the back yard. His daughter rides her trike right in to it, and presumably dies, since we’re told the potholes are oblivion. They’re opening up all over the Village, however, and the official explanation is that they’re some kind of weather condition, which can only be countered by raising a pig. No, really. Suddenly, everyone wants a pig because “All the leading scientists agree that swine breath counters the phenomenon.” Again, there’s no real merit to this, just random inscrutability thrown at the wall to see what will stick.
The Cab driver’s marriage starts to break up over the loss of his daughter.

Two has forced The Pretty Doctor to subject Six and Lucy to some kind of genetic love therapy (Don’t ask) that’ll make ‘em love each other.

Two puts the moves - seemingly - on the pretty doctor, and has her up to the palace to stare at his comatose wife and discuss the nature of love. It’s implied that Two’s love for his wife might be as artificial as Six’s love for Lucy, it’s also implied that he’s betrayed his wife in some fashion, though again we don’t know how.

In the flashbacks, Six and Lucy discuss what it is he saw, but he won’t say. She claims to be a rebel in the company, and wants to help him expose it, but he throws her out, then finds her inexplicably passed out in his hallway, so he invites her back in and they make out for a bit. She begins to suspect that Six is one of the “Changed” people that he’s been observing. The next morning, he runs out to get her breakfast, and on his way back a bomb goes off in his apartment.

The Pretty Doctor has a change of heart, and can’t go through with Two’s plan. She wakes Six up during a treatment, but he doesn’t care, he’s still in love with Lucy and wants to marry her. (What? Where’d that come from?)

At the wedding in the generic Village Chapel in the middle of nowhere, The Pretty Doctor kisses Six, shocking all, and Lucy goes running off in to the desert. Six chases her. She’s stopped by rover, and admits that she’s really Lucy, and was brought to the Village to make Six love her, so she could break his heart.

Six leaves and finds his cabbie friend contemplating going in to one of the Oblivion Sinkholes, but he talks him out of it, since that’s surely suicide. Then Lucy, still wearing her wedding gown, jumps in killing herself.

The End.

OBSERVATIONS

If that all seems rather sketchy and random to you, well, it kind of was. The episode decided to stick to a specific them, and handled it reasonably coherently for once, but then it went and put too fine a point on it with six asking “What is love?” and Two ruminating on the negative aspects of the emotion. They skip right over the ‘asking interesting questions of something we all take for granted’ aspect and jump right in to the ‘beating us over the head with 3AM Dormroom Bong Philosophy’ phase of things.

Two decides not to punish The Pretty Doctor for her crimes, which seems curiously unlike him.

My goodness, that Lucy is a chesty one, isn’t she? I don’t mean to sound sexist, I’m sure she has many other fine qualities, not limited to her merely adequate fake American accent, but the bottom line is that I don’t think a show casts an actress with an amazing chest in a role like this, and then shoots her in such a way as to draw attention to her amazing chest in nearly every scene, unless they maybe want us to notice. So I’m not really being so much sexist here as I am pretty much playing along and being their target audience for that aspect of the show. I can’t find a solid photo, and I can’t find anywhere that says “Who played ‘Lucy’ in the remake of the Prisoner,” but I’m pretty sure she’s played by Hayley Atwell, who I’m a bit smitten by, even given the not-entirely-convincing accent.

I’ve been meaning to mention this before now, but there’s an annoying tendency not to use contractions in the flashback scenes that has been bugging me since episode one. Presumably it’s done now, since the flashbacks have reached a conclusion and Lucy’s dead in the village, but you never know. I’m not sure if it was written that way or a director’s choice or an actor’s choice (“I can’t say ‘Isn’t’ without soundin’ like a bleedin’ cockney, guv’nor”) but it’s really artificial and distracting.

Once again, it felt like we had 20 or 30 minutes of plot needlessly padded out to 50 minutes. It gets oppressive. I realize the Village is *supposed* to be oppressive, but watching the show isn’t, right? But, seriously, with three or four trips to the Cabbie’s house and a half dozen scenes of people standing around staring in holes, and random scenes of Pretty Doctor pinin’ away for Six, and blah blah blah blah-bity-blah, it all begins to grind on you. The direction is mostly very ponderous, the editing even moreso. I watched two hours of the Prisoner tonight, I feel like I watched four hours. I feel truly worn out.

After the second episode was done, I decided to watch Castle with my wife, and thank God for that - a straight ahead non-fractured narrative that doesn’t feel the need to overstate every one of it’s points, and briskly tells a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Yeah, granted, Castle is a stupid (But affable) show, but it really functioned as a kind of colon blow after trying to pass this turd of an episode. Some will say “Oh, that R3, he’s just a lowbrow, he doesn’t like things that aren’t all laid out for him.” No, that’s not true. I am, after all, a huge fan of the original Prisoner, I like open-ended stuff, I *don’t* need to have everything spelled out for me, but I *do* like it when the story is coherent. This whole series up until now hasn’t really felt that way. It’s just a bunch of stuff that happens, then stops happening, sliced in to random hour-long sections with less thought to structure than a ten-year-old hacking away at a pan of brownies fresh out of the oven.

The only real questions here are:

A) Did Lucy and six really love each other in the real world? (Probably not. Probably they were screwing with his head even then)

B) What are the sinkholes? (Probably the whole Village is a construct of 2’s sleeping wife, and the consensual hallucination she’s set up is breaking down for some reason)

C) Are Lucy and the kid dead? (Probably)

D) What is the “Change” that Six saw in the real world?

E) Two says that Six can’t be harmed, but he can be made to suffer. Why? In the original show, they didn’t want to harm Six because they didn’t now what he knew. They made it very clear that once he told them that, they didn’t give a damn what happened to him afterwards, and he was of no more value. I have to reiterate that the new Six has never been asked any questions, nor does anyone seem to care what he knows.

Another point of departure between the series that’s grating on me is that the original Six could be screwed with, drugged, fooled, and freaked out, but ultimately he was always true to the core of his being. This new Six is entirely too tractable. “Wanna spy on people?” Sure! “Wanna’ fall in love?” Sure! “Wanna’ hang out with a fake family and believe they’re your real one?” Sure! He’s too undefined and too easily diluted and redefined by what they do to him. The original Six was a free man regardless of whether or not he was in the Village. He was free because he was an individual, indivisible, self-complete. This new six is wishy-washy, changeable, impermanent.

As I said, I’m trying to refrain from judging this show until it’s done tomorrow night, but as it is, I’m pretty much at the burnout point. And what is the moral of this five-times-longer-than-it-needed-to-be photoplay? That Dating Agencies are all cons? Well, hell, I knew that when I came in here! Geez!

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