"The Prisoner" Checkmate (TV Episode 1967) Poster

(TV Series)


User Reviews

Review this title
4 Reviews
Sort by:
Certainly One Of The Most Effective, As Well As One Of The More Memorable, Episodes Of A Series Filmed For Television That Rewards A Degree Of Thought From Its Audience.
rsoonsa5 May 2009
Of the 17 Prisoner episodes, filmed during 1967/8, this intellectual delight has been accorded various storyline chronologic listings of numbers 3, or 5, or 9, by expositors, with the lattermost being that of its actual broadcast sequence, although this ordering is not especially significant to many devotees of Patrick McGoohan's remarkable creation, they being generally more engaged with the inspired symbolism of the series in its entirety. In any case, CHECKMATE was actually shot before the plotted first segment, THE ARRIVAL, and additionally was one of the first five completed scripts, with the game board, that hosts humans as chess pieces, being based upon actual circumstances in medieval England, and covering an entire courtyard of the inordinately picturesque grounds of the Hotel Portmeirion in northern Wales, this being where "The Village" is sited for this engrossing series wherein McGoohan, playing as an unnamed but numbered "Six", is ensconced along with other captives, all apparently being held there for the greater good of an agency that exists in the world outside the Village, for which internees must surrender their liberty. THE PRISONER is after being an apologue, that of an individual who reminds his keepers that he will never bend his knee to them, although he has no full understanding of whom his captors may be. During this segment, Number Six attempts to solve a portion of this puzzle, spurred by the repeated questioning of him by Number Two as to "why did you resign?", to which query he refuses to give answer and, in this chapter, he clearly believes that a showdown of sorts with his "Guardians" is in the offing. This, then, becomes the core of the Prisoner's tortured struggle against the unknown controllers, i.e., developing a method by which he can successfully rebel in his own, and highly personal, fashion. The first step in quest of his murky adversaries is to determine their identity and, in order to accomplish this, he applies an elemental psychologic practice, with the striking visuals of this episode being much esteemed by votaries of the PRISONER series. Number Six becomes convinced that perhaps half of the Village population is potentially composed of Guardians, these being in effect railbirds who directly monitor the deportment of the prisoners, and he believes it may be possible to generate a nucleus of like minded peers, while managing to spike established values of one of them in particular, thereby creating a close ally for his attempt to escape. There is a persistent danger in the Village that Number Six or another prisoner might be sent to hospital for "readjustment" (learning conformity), and there is always a possible additional menace of duplicity through shared mistrust among those supposedly in concert with each other, such as those who are pieces upon the "chess board", including Number Six as Queen's Pawn (original title of the episode), who must also deal with an unexpectedly amourous Queen (Rosalie Crutchley). This episode of an admirable series of the imagination is highlighted by the customary strong performance by McGoohan, and there is a first-class turn from Peter Wyngarde as "Number Two", the Prisoner's most immediate nemesis. The visual aesthetics, an intelligent script (Gerald Kelsey), and able direction from Prisoner veteran helmsman Don Chaffey each follows a customary high standard set for a series that remains freshly startling to many viewers. Viewing this episode on either VHS or DVD remains a delicious cinematic treat.
8 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Chessboard as Metaphorical Representation of Despair
Hitchcoc17 February 2015
If one casts out the disappointment that Number Six is playing a game of solitaire a card short, then we can really enjoy what happens here. First of all, a pawn in a chess match is the weakest link but can gain power by reaching the other side of the board. During a human chess match where the residents of the village act out the moves of the chess masters, Number Six finds a man who is a rook to be non-compliant. He begins to check him out as a possible co-conspirator against the forces in the village. This man is tech savvy and is able to mess with wires and conduits. They begin to plot a way to signal a ship to pick them up so they may escape. As a steady viewer of the show on must always be on the alert. Sometimes it's more to this as one who enjoys the chase as much as the result. A fly in the ointment is a woman who has fallen in love with Number Six and is fortified by Number Two. She is disruptive to the plan by design and basically "spies" for the authorities. She has trouble with her emotions and must be dealt with. Unfortunately, the chess match is just too much of a metaphor, especially when it comes to the weaker pieces
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Shall we play a game?
Mr-Fusion25 September 2017
Between the various brands of behavioral modification seen here, Orwell and Pavlov would be proud. Or sickened.

'Checkmate' makes brilliant use of the chessboard (human or otherwise) as a theme of manipulation. It's Number 6 rooting out those other unfortunate souls whom he can trust to help him effect his escape. And that's where this really excels; the steady buildup to actually leaving the Village. It's almost as exciting as the other big escape attempt ('Many Happy Returns') . . . almost. Regardless, it's entertaining to the very last chess move.

0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
AaronCapenBanner9 June 2015
Number six(Patrick McGoohan) discovers a new game literally being played in the village in the form of a human chess game being enacted on the village green, with select villagers being used as pawns by the players, who sit high-up in chairs shouting out the next move via megaphones. "Six" decides to join in, but the rebellion of a rook gets his attention, and he becomes involved in another plot of escape using fellow villagers in his aid against the new number two(played by Peter Wyngarde), though "six" will discover too late that mistrust and paranoia can also be used against himself...Memorable episode with iconic imagery and a most effective and ironic twist ending.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews