The Prisoner (UK)

Season 1 Episode 10

Hammer into Anvil

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Dec 10, 1967 on ITV
out of 10
User Rating
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Episode Summary

When a young woman is driven to her death by Number Two, Number Six swears his revenge. Number Two tells Number Six that he is going to hammer him, (using a quote from Goethe about hammers and anvils) so Number Six decides to turn the tables on him. He plans to make Number Two think that he is an agent called D6 and that he reports to a superior X.O.4. Number Six sets out on a campaign to break Number Two.moreless

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  • An amusing revenge plot where number 6 decides to make number 2 pay for mistreating a fellow prisoner.

    Each episode in this series deals with an aspect of individualism vs. collectivism. In this episode, we see number 6 go mano-a-mano with number 2 in a battle of wills. Number two has a henchman, number 14, in this episode, and in keeping with the usual wierdness of The Prisoner, they challenge each other in combat. This made me laugh, because combat involved wearing crash helmets and sweats while jumping on two trampolines with a pool of water in between. They bounce around a bit, jump up onto a ledge, then number 6 is about to drop number 14 into the pool when two dudes in crash helmets walk up, and for some reason number 2 decides not to dump him in the water. Didn't make much sense to me either, but it's so crazy I loved it.moreless
  • Number six in control!

    Finally, after being duped, tricked, and betrayed in most of the episodes,Number Six goes on the offensive. I was never a big fan of the actor who played Number 2 in this episode so to see him crack up was mildly satisfying. We get to really see how clever Number Six is and how using the inherant distrust that already exists in the village, he is able to make Number 2 look like a fool. Using absurd but effective methods to get under Number Two's skin , Number six is perceived as being a "Plant" meant to spy on the security of the village and its man in charge. Using this ploy he almost gets some information about who actually runs the village. A very clever story!moreless
  • An exercise in paranoia - just brilliant.

    I love Patrick Cargill in this one and Patrick McGoohan is, as usual, fantastic but the best thing for me is the recurring tune. At times it is hypnotic and the sheer unyielding willpower of Number Two to break Number Six is just magnetic. It can be critisised of course but you need to leave that in the bin and just enjoy the plot and become more and more drawn into the crazy dark world of The Prisoner. If you are thinking of watching this strange series, please bear in mind that it is an acquired taste but one well worth obtaining.moreless
  • Number Six observes the new Number Two sadistically handling other \"villagers\", and decides that he going to psychologically break him (or hammer the hammer, as Number Two sees himself).

    A wonderful study in how paranoia breeds self-destruction. Number Six deftly sets about leading Number Two down a false path of activities, causing the latter to distrust everyone and everything to the point of self-implosion. A very good episode showing The Prisoner\'s mental strength proactively instead of reactively.

    \"The Prisoner\" was, in its day, the most costly per-episode show on television. Ironically, it wasn\'t well received by the public in the late 1960\'s...but in modern times its content and subject matter seem eerily parallel to everday life.

    Some see in \"The Prisoner\" a deep parable of how we are all prisoners of ourselves; a number of people express that the show was a manifesto for responsible individualism and against the Communist or any State as your dictator.

    Either way, you\'ll enjoy this episode wherein Number Six is told \"Du musst Amherst oder Hammer sein\" (Goethe) and that he will be \"hammered\" into compliance.moreless
Patrick Cargill

Patrick Cargill

Number Two

Guest Star

Victor Maddern

Victor Maddern

Band Master

Guest Star

Basil Hoskins

Basil Hoskins

Number Fourteen

Guest Star

Peter Swanwick

Peter Swanwick


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • It's rather odd why Number 6 wasn't immediately detained after leaving the "bomb" on Number 2's doorstep, especially granted his past "suspicious" behaviour that involved cuckoo clocks in It's Your Funeral, which preceded this episode when shown in proper viewing rather than production order.

    • Number Seventy-Three (Hilary Dwyer) is the only use of the numeral "7" seen in the Village.

    • In the first 15 minutes there is a point where Number 6 looks in a shop window. Just before he goes in to listen to records there is a blue sign and a yellow sign displayed in the window. They switch sides from left to right between camera cuts.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Number Two: We have things to discuss.
      Number Six: About the girl you murdered?
      Number Two: Oh, never mind the girl. I want to talk about you.
      Number Six: You're wasting your time. Others have tried.
      Number Two: Amateurs.
      Number Six: You're professional. A professional sadist?

    • Number Two: You are too strong. We'll see. "Du musst amboss oder hammer sein."
      Number Six: "You must be anvil or hammer."
      Number Two: I see you know your Goethe.
      Number Six: And you see me as the anvil?
      Number Two: Precisely. I am going to hammer you.

    • Number Two: I have nothing to say.
      Number Six: That's not like the old Number Two. Where is the strong man? The hammer? You have to be hammer or anvil, remember?
      Number Two: I... know who you are.
      Number Six: I'm Number Six.
      Number Two: D-6.
      Number Six: D-6?
      Number Two: Yes. Sent here by our masters to spy on me.
      Number Six: Sorry, I'm not quite with you.

    • Number Two: What is going on up there?
      Number Six: Disgust.
      (Number Two hits him)

    • Number Two: (angrily) I'll break you, Number Six!
      Number Six: Yes.

    • Number Two: (to Number Six) Every man has his breaking point, you know. And you are no exception.

    • Number Two: You shouldn't have interfered, Number Six. You'll pay for this.
      Number Six: No. You will.

    • Number Two: You destroyed me.
      Number Six: No.. you destroyed yourself. You destroyed yourself. A character flaw. You were afraid of your masters. A weak link in the chain of command waiting to be broken.
      Number Two: Don't tell them... don't report me.
      Number Six: I don't intend to. You are going to report yourself.
      Number Two: (taking the phone) I have to report a breakdown.. in control. Number Two needs to be replaced. Yes, this is Number Two reporting.

  • NOTES (5)