Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Outsider

   The Outsider is an unused script for the Prisoner written by Moris Farhi. The script opens with the early morning sunshine and No.6 acting in the most peculiar way. He's on top of the cliffs, measuring the edge with a length of string with hooks at both ends. Then jots the measurement down in a notebook. There is a heading in the notebook cliffs West and below that the figure of a segment of geological map is taking shape. And beach area 18 along with a completed map of the particuliar scale 1:1000 and suddenly there is a drone of an aircraft!
    No.6 reacts instantly at hearing the drone of the aircraft which instantly reaches a deafening crescendo. He cups his ears whilst trying to spot the aircraft, then the drone cuts out, instead a whistling whine, and an explosion tears the air. There is a gyser of smoke and fire shoots up in the distance. No.6 pockets his notebook and runs in the direction of the column of smoke, zig zagging through the trees. He finds the pilot who ejected before the aircraft impacted with the ground.
   Finding the pilot, who's first instinct is to go for his gun, but then thinks better of it seeing as how the approaching figure is unarned. He addresses No.6 in some indistinct language, a cross between Latin and Nordic. No.6 asks the pilot if he is the only one, but there comes no reply. He asks if the pilot speaks English, there is a moments hesitation, then his English is perfect and accentless. A brief conversation breaks out between the two. The pilot works for an outfit the Meteorological Bureau weather observation. He saw the seaside town....He asks if No.6 is a Forester?
No.6 "No,"
Pilot "A Gamekeeper?"
"No, a Prisoner."
"Aren't we all? On parole?"
"No.6 examines the parachute
Pilot "A Goverment issue!"
"What Governement?"
"How many have you got?"
"Hows the leg?"
"I'll survive."
   No.6 manages to get the pilot into a cave, it's mouth well camouflaged with undergrowth and foliage. Inside No.6 checks the walls for hidden surveillance, there is none. The cave is only home to bats who reside there. The pilot has a survival kit, compass, which No.6 istantly sees as being useful, along with a map. The map depicts the southern tip of America, Argentina, Chile, and the Falklands. Although the pilot is injured, No.6 ties him up in the cave, the pilot referring to himself as the Prisoner's Prisoner!
   During opening exchanges within the cave, the two men engage in a cat-and-mouse game about the supposed location of the village. The map found on the pilot suggests South America, perhaps even the Falklands Islands. Yet No.6 dismisses this theory by referrence to the stars and especially the Great Bear, which cannot be seen from the Southern Hemisphere. After this strange sparring, there is the odd scene in which the back of the pilots map is rubbed on the wall of the cave to reveal a secret chart, the location in The Chimes of Big Ben. This was also the area identified as the Village's location in that particular episode. It is possible that the area of the Baltic was intended to have been the original location for the village, behind the Iron Curtain.
     The story line then unfolds with No.6 determined to use the pilot to concoct an escape plan. And the main village action of the script concerns a game of poker between No.2 and No.6, No.6's chair having been wired to a lie detector on the Control Room. But No.6 spots the wire and thereby spoiling No.2's plan. But this is a most interesting premise, the village could have probed No.6 for information about the crashed aircraft, and certainly about the whereabouts of the missing pilot. This under the guise of monitoring No.6's responses in a harmless conversation during the poker game.
    Then the action moves to the Palace of Fun which is never used or even mentioned in any of the 17 episodes of the Prisoner, although it appears on the Map of Your Village. In the Palace of Fun No.6 visits No.2 in the thermal baths. But No.2 confronts No.6 about the whereabouts of the pilot. No.6 refuses to give any such information away, and is duly taken away to the hospital where he is subjected to five hours of torture in a 'Non-gravitational chamber.' This torture would have involved in No.6 being left weightless and subjected to extreme temperatures, loud noises and psychedelic lighting effects.
    The climax of the story involves an intriguing plot which called for a helicopter to rescue the pilot using a transmitter beacon hidden in the pilots flying suit. The transmitter having been activated and hidden as a crafty decoy, while No.6 lights a bonfire on the hillside. However this would have been another decoy as No.6 and the pilot signal the helicopter by lamp from the beach.
    No.83, mysteriously turns up on the beach and joins No.6 and the pilot. No.83 who is said to be an Undergraduate who is studying for her exams, and who has been assigned to No.6, who he rejected in the Palace of Fun.
    No.83 "I've been searching for you, it is my duty to please you...then I saw him" pointing to the pilot.
    Pilot "I was outside looking for you, and there she was." Imitating 83's voice "I have come to please you! "What is she, mad?"
    83 "A pleasure hostess!" she says proudly.
{This is the first insinuation of sex in the village}
    But the piloit isn't keen on taking the girl with them, in fact he wants to kill her, having taken out his gun. She's happy here, our world won't make her happy. And even No.83 wants to be killed.
    "Please....I'm so happy. Yes kill me! Kill me. Please don't take me..."
    But No.6 is adamant that the girl goes with them. So the beacon on the beach is lit, a signal transmitted, and a helicopter despatched  to make the rescue of the pilot, all carefully observed by No.2 and the Supervisor in the Control Room. In fact the plan for the escape would have succeeded if only No.6 had not drunk the cup of drugged coffee!
    It had all been one of No.2's little games. the pilot hadn't crashed at all, that had been staged, an explosion, the plane wreckage scattered about. The pilots broken ankle, the cyanide capsule....all psychological warfare. The village never does anything by half measures!
    No.6 "I guessed as much. But one musn't pass any chances. Good training. Was it worth your while?"
Pilot "Indeed. It should convince you there is no-one you can trust, no-one can help you. There is no-way out."
    This after No.6 has awakened in the Georgian residence of No.2 who offers him tea. The pilot is the new No.2. After a short interview No.6 leaves the Georgian residence. Around him the village is coming to life. He starts walking towards his cottage, a man unbroken. The camera moves to an aerial panoramic view of the village. Two prison gates suddenly clang shut in the foreground. In the centre of the screen we see a white dot coming at us like a bullet. It is the face of the Prisoner. It stops just behind the fade out.

    There is no indication why this script was rejected. Indeed information has it that The Outsider was to have gone into production in January 1967. Moris Farhi was only told by Script Editor George Markstein at the very last minute that the proposed episode had been dropped. This on the word of Patrick McGoohan, on the premise that heros do not birdwatch. The script called for No.6 to observe the migratory birds so as to assertain which part of the world the village might be. And during the torture scene of extreme temperatures, this would cause No.6 to sweat. As McGoohan thought it to be, heros don't sweat!
   To my mind The Outsider would have made one of the strongest scripts of the Prisoner series. A pity that it was not included.

I'm Piet Hein

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