The Prisoner (UK)

Season 1 Episode 2

The Chimes of Big Ben

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Oct 08, 1967 on ITV

Episode Recap

Number Six wakes up to another day in the Village and attempts to make breakfast despite the annoyingly gentle music playing over the speakers. Well aware that Number Two is watching him via hidden cameras, Number Six takes the speaker and puts in the refrigerator to smother the noise. He then goes to the shore and plays chess with the General. Number Two is informed that a scheduled helicopter is approaching the Village. He goes down to the beach and greets Number Six, and the two of them watch as the helicopter lands and an unconscious woman is removed by stretcher and taken into the Village. The two men go to the Green Dome and Number Two monitors the woman as she wakes up in a flat made to resemble her apartment at home. Number Two explains that she's the new Number eight and calls to invite her to lunch. Number Six departs and Number Two offers him a deal: release in return for the reason for his resignation. Number Six is unimpressed, noting no one is ever released, and Number Two warns that he needs to settle down, perhaps join in the local art exhibition in six weeks.

As Number Six returns to his flat, the neighbouring Number Eight asks for directions to the Green dome and then asks him to escort her. Assuming she's a warder, Number Six casually responds to her questions with non-answers and takes her in the right direction. He bids her farewell and drops her off. She returns to her flat some hours later and Number Six offers her a drink, noting she spent an exceedingly long time with Number Two. She seems familiar with the concept of the Village but it isn't what she expected. He asks why she resigned but she believes that he's Number Two's assistant, trying to get information from her. She refuses to answer, insists that she is no Number Eight but that her name is Nadia, and leaves, angry.

The next day, Nadia goes swimming on the beach while Number Six watches her. Number Two comes over to inquire if Number Six is acting in a neighbourly manner. Number Two leaves and upon returning to the Green Dome reads that she was an Olympic swimmer. On the beach, Number Six watches as Nadia swims away from shore. The Control Room signals Orange Alert and a guardian sphere renders her unconscious and brings her back to shore. Medical technicians take her away.

Later, Number two invites Number Six to watch Nadia's treatment at the Hospital. She is undergoing "processing" by being placed in a room with an electrified floor. The floor electrifies in four-second cycles. There's a bowl of water that Nadia can use to time the current. The door is unlocked: if she keeps her nerve, she can simply walk out. Nadia makes a break for it but freezes at the door and Number Two quickly orders the technicians to cut the current. Disgusted at Nadia's treatment, Number Six offers Number Two a deal: he'll settle down if Nadia is released into his custody. Number Two warns that Number Six is overestimating his value and displaying signs of megalomania, but nonetheless agrees.

Later, a much cheerier Nadia visits Number Six as she settles in. After having breakfast, Number Two stops by and Number Six that says he's preparing an abstract art piece for the exhibition. Rather than use proscribed tools, Number Six is creating his tools by hand. Nadia and Number six goes into the woods where he points out the surveillance cameras but notes that they lack sound. He confirms that her superiors sent her to the Village when she learned the location of the Village. While she still suspects him of being a warder, he wants to know the location so he can calculate an escape route by sea. She considers his suggestion. Over the next few weeks, Number Six designs a three-piece sculpture using a stone axe and chisel. Number Two visits him and notes that even those tools aren't allowed but Number Six is confident he'll turn a blind eye.

That evening, Nadia visits Number Six and they go out on his patio carrying a speaker. He pretends to flirt with her while she decides to trust him. She gives him the location of the Village: Lithuania, thirty miles from the Polish border. She wants to escape and defect but he warns that he can't guarantee how the British authorities will treat either one of them. She explains that has contacts that can help her once they get over the border into Poland. She talks about how she always wanted to go to London and hear the chimes of Big Ben, and nicknames Number Six "Big Ben."

The day of the exhibition arrives and Number Two asks Number Six to explains his sculpture to the judges. As they enter, it become clear why: every other artwork is a portrayal of Number Two. Number Six waxes on at great length about his sculpture, "Escape," and with some prodding from Number Two, the judges declare Number Six the winner. He receives a prize of 2,000 work units but declares his admiration for the elderly Number Thirty-Eight and offers to buy her entry, a tapestry, so he can hang it in his flat.

That night, Number Six and Nadia go to the art exhibit and remove the "Escape" sculpture. The three pieces, covered in a tarp, form a crude boat. Number Six uses the tapestry as a sail and they leave. The next morning, the Control Room discovers that they're gone and locate them on the sea at maximum range, and inform Number Two. Number Two orders an Orange Alert and a guardian sphere moves in on the border. They swim to shore while Nadia's waiting contact, Karel, opens fire on the guardian sphere, driving it back.

Number Six gives Karel a coded message to send on to London and then borrows his watch to time their trip, since his own was ruined by the salt water. Nadia and Number Six are sealed in crate and shipped via Copenhagen to London. As they are taken by boat, Nadia talks to Number Six, still calling him "Big Ben." She asks about Big Ben in London and he says they should be hearing it in about twelve hours.

In London, one of Number Six's superiors, Fotheringay, receives the coded message and informs his superior. In the crates, Nadia flirts with Number Six, asking him if he is engaged but he doesn't respond and tries to get some sleep. Finally, they arrive at the London office of Number Six's superiors, Fotheringay and Colonel J. After a round of introductions, Fotheringay has to leave and Colonel J asks Nadia to wait in the next room. As the chimes of Big Ben ring outside amidst the sounds of traffic, Colonel J asks Number Six to account for his disappearances since his resignation. Number Six wonders if Colonel J knows about the Village. However, the Colonel wants to know what Number Six has to say for himself. He points out that Number Six resigned, disappeared, and then resurfaced with a Russian defector and a bizarre tale. Number Six demands immunity for the defecting Nadia and Colonel J reluctantly grants it, but insists that Number Six will have to account for himself to avoid suspicion.

Colonel J asks why Number Six resigned and Number Six prepares to answer... and then hears the chimes of Big Ben. He checks his borrowed watch and notes that the number of chimes matches with the hour on the wristwatch. Colonel J doesn't understand the significance... until Number Six points out that he obtained the watch from a man in Poland, and there's a one-hour time difference. Colonel J suggests the watch is an hour slow but Number Six doesn't believe him. He goes around the office pulling out power cords until the traffic sounds outside stop. He opens a cabinet door to reveal a tape player. When he plugs it back in, it plays traffic sounds. Brushing past Colonel J, Number Six goes down a hallway and outside... and finds himself in the Village. The entire "London office" is a mockup.

Fotheringay is preparing to leave before he is missed, and Number Two bids him farewell. Nadia is there with them. Number Six looks at them and salutes, then returns. They return to the Control Room and as Nadia departs, she assures Number Two that his idea was a good one and she'll stress that with their superiors.