A Change of Mind is the twelfth episode of the television series The Prisoner, originally broadcast on 31 December 1967.
Number 6 is seen pursuing his daily exercise routine in the woods. Two thugs arrive and accuse him of being antisocial for not using the community gym
, and a fight ensues in which Number 6 defeats the thugs. In an ante-room to a committee chamber, a villager is seen confessing to being "inadequate and anti-social", and being applauded by others for this admission. Number 6 is invited into the committee room to confess his lack of cooperation, but refuses to do so.
Number 6 is then seen being reported in the village newspaper for "further investigation" and others start avoiding him. No 2 denies having any influence over the committee but warns of the results of non-compliance. Number 86 arrives and chides Number 6 for his non-cooperation.
Number 6's exposure of a community "rehab" process causes the committee to label him uncooperative, and he is taken to a medical facility where he meets a villager (with a scar on his temple) who says he had been labelled as "unmutual" but is now cured. Number 6 again appears before the committee and told he will be labelled for conversion if he doesn't fall into line. He then reads in the "Tally-Ho" and hears over the tannoy
that he has been labelled "unmutual".
As a new day dawns, Number 6 is being ostracized and Number 2 threatens him with "social conversion". Number 6 is rounded up by the villagers and marched to the medical facility. He is strapped to a table and the conversion process is explained by Number 86, who is in charge of it.
Number 6 wakes up, apparently docile, returns to the community and is welcomed by all. In his flat he sees his cup of tea being drugged by Number 86 and pours it away. Number 2 arrives and questions Number 6 about his resignation, but is rebuffed. Number 86, watching Number 6 remove the dressing covering his "operation scar", doubts that he has been properly conditioned but Number 2 insists that all is well. Number 86 tries to drug Number 6 again, but he takes over the tea-making process, switching the cups so that Number 86 drinks the drugged tea.
Back in the woods seen at the beginning of the episode, Number 6 initially appears confused and unable to show aggression, when the thugs reappear. Number 6 is able to get the better of them, however. Number 86 comes to the woods and is hypnotised by Number 6 into explaining how the conditioning process was faked; she is given certain instructions by Number 6.
In the closing sequence, Number 6 visits Number 2 and convinces him that the ploy has worked, informing him that he wants to tell "everyone". Number 2 arranges for the whole village to hear Number 6's public "confession". The programmed Number 86 arrives and charges Number 2 with "unmutuality", and Number 2 initially walks off pursued by the villagers, and is eventually forced to flee.
This episode deals with conformity, methods of enforcing it, and the consequences of its rejection. In particular, it has been said that the episode addresses the issues of McCarthyism
(in which "unmutual" is equivalent to "communist") and the ethical issues of lobotomy
, referenced below, p. 91)
The character of Number Two, as is typical in "The Prisoner", becomes the victim of his own weakness, an over-confidence in his own ability to crack Number Six, a theme developed almost to its extreme in Hammer Into Anvil
and actually so in Fall Out
. Also typically, the Number Two character relies upon a technical expert whose expertise is actually subvertible by Number 6's perspicacity, as seen in The Girl Who Was Death
and A. B. and C.
Meanwhile, it remains unclear as to whether the "ordinary" villagers are fully-informed participants in Number 2's attempts to crack Number 6, or merely compliant drones who have themselves been cracked. Certainly, White points out that this episode in particular shows the "most unsympathetic portrayal of the common Villagers."(White, p. 90.)
- White, Matthew; Jaffer Ali (1988). The Official Prisoner Companion. London: Sidgwick & Jackson.