Finished watching The Prisoner‘s 2009 remake last night. A total of six episodes, starring Ian McKellen (as 2) and Jim Caviezel (as 6). Spoilers below.
The cinematography and pacing was good throughout the six episodes. It starts with 6 finding himself in the desert and getting back to this seemingly idealistic “Village”. The people there have accepted that there’s nothing beyond the village, that there’s no other world beyond it. During the six episodes, No 2 is trying to break No 6, to make him believe that there’s nothing beyond the Village. However, unlike most of the others who only have dreams relating to other places, No 6 has clear as day memories of his New York life that happens in parallel to his Village life. Naturally, he tries to break free of it, but he can’t. No 2 is the authority in the Village, and he’s got a son and a comatose wife. The Village is not a nice place in reality: everyone’s spying on everyone else, people are getting abducted or getting killed if they are reported. The idealistic nature of the Village is only skin deep.
At the end, is revealed that the Village is not a real place, but a subconscious (or other state of consciousness) level, ran by the brain of No2’s real-life wife in New York, who’s a scientist and creator of psychotropic drugs. The other inhabitants of the village are random NY people, most of them employees of Summakor, the corporation that real-life No2 leads (and that No6 recently resigned from). Summakor runs this project supposedly to help these people, who are all chosen to occupy the village since they lead a troubled real life. So basically, the Village acts as a restrain of the subconscious mind in order to control unwanted behavior of the real life person.
Some people were not happy with this resolution, that the Village is not a real place, but I like it just fine. I think it’s sci-fi enough, and pretty interesting too. Others were unhappy because the series was not like the original ’60s series. Personally, I don’t care about this at all, I review this series on its own merits, as an individual work of art. My problem with the series is elsewhere.
My problem is with the ending. No2 is blowing himself into pieces in order to free himself from the Village’s plane of existence, just as 313 (6’s romantic interest in the series) takes a special pill that makes her real life NY counterpart the new “brain server”, rather than No2’s wife. Now, No2’s wife is not comatose anymore (she was comatose in both lives, because her brain was needed at 100% operation in order to run the Village), and 313/Sarah is. At the very end, 6 is trying to make the Village a better place (in the Village life), and he’s accepted back a higher ranking job at Summakor (in his NY life). The last thing we see in the series is 313 crying, and we don’t know if it’s because of happiness because 6 will indeed try to make the Village a better place, or because 6 has turned, without realizing it, into the new 2: a tyrant.
See, this is a very unsatisfactory ending. We spent 5.5 episodes seeing 6 fighting the status quo and rebel against the tyranny. Even just 20 minutes before the ending the NY counterpart of 6 was questioning the ethics of running such a project. Are we to believe that just like that 6 accepted the Village for what it is and decided to stay in it? Why? Just because of a woman? And was No2’s plan all along to get 6 to accept the Village and be part of it, even if 6 had full knowledge of the other world? In other words, was the whole thing a trap, to find a new boss for the Village? A new boss who while he knew of the truth he would choose to stay?
I just find it stupid knowing the truth and not killing yourself to get out of it. Regardless if there’s a woman involved or not. Made no sense to me. Or is this an allegory for “yeah, you’re young, you’re rebellious, and then you get married, and your life is over“. Because honestly, that’s the only “deeper message” I got out of the series. Or are we, the viewers, to believe that such an experiment with people’s minds “is a good thing” and that’s why 6 accepted it? I personally don’t see anything good with it, it’s evil. Especially since none of these people volunteered for it!
What should have been done instead was the NY 6 destroying all computers and maybe even No2’s wife in order to end the Village. That’s what any sane person would have done. Instead, (a pretty confused throughout the series) No 6 becomes a conformist himself, in both lives. Or was 6 brought into the Village in order to tame/conform him, a subconscious development that subsequently controlled his NY counterpart to accept the job as the new high ranking exec of Summacor? Is this how that corporation hires people, by manipulating their employees’ morality in their subconscious level first? Most people do conform later in their lives, so I guess the ending does mirror real life.
Regardless, the ending just felt unsatisfactory as it left a negative, hopeless mental let-down to the viewer. And the writing was particularly confusing at the end. This is a series that could have been done a bit better if the story and subplots were spelled out a bit clearer with less over-done “artsy” cuts like the ones at the end of each episode. Less surrealism please in the last 5 minutes. Thank you.