The Unmutual Reviews: When in Rome by Roger Langley

Review by Cameron Stewart.

Last time we left The Prisoner, he was fighting against a neo-Nazi Village, turning old and then turning young again, getting chucked around the inside of the Tardis and shooting people with explosive bullets.
So we’re back again to examine the second instalment to Roger Langley’s trilogy of self-published fan fiction, ‘When In Rome’. Surprisingly in Max Hora’s 1987 publication ‘Village World’, a woman called Liz Caldwell reviewed this story. Her first comments were ‘I wasn’t too impressed with Roger Langley’s previous Prisoner novel “Think Tank”’ Hallelujah, someone who agrees with me! She goes onto state, ‘I enjoyed “When In Rome” much more than “Think Tank”’.
Well, I now have a mild expectation that this is going to be at least a bit better. I’m also hoping this story is going to be set in Rome. We should mention the introduction which Roger has added. His previous one had him waffling on about a theory regarding what year he thought the Prisoner was meant to be set in. On this occasion, he makes it very clear that while ‘When In Rome’ is a sequel to ‘Think Tank’, it does not tie in with the other story. Well, hopefully it’ll talk a little about the previous story, there seemed to be a lot of unexplained points that were never resolved.

With this review I had so much material to write about, that we’ve chaptered this review into four parts so it’s easier to read. Hopefully easier to read than Roger Langley’s work.

Part 1

Our story begins in the limousine, which the Prisoner had accidentally gotten into in Think Tank, thinking it was driven by his best man Potter. Read my previous review to hear the Potter rant. Also he was heading on his was to his own wedding where he would have wed Janet. Surprisingly this wedding will be rarely mentioned in this story again.
He, in an unconscious state, is driven to an abandoned airfield where he is loaded onto a military type plane and flown off. To be honest the opening is very well written and has a sinister cold war feel to it. But just when you’re actually admiring some of his writing, we are instantly brought back to ‘Langley Land’. A man in a ‘circular room, furnished only with a curved control desk and a spherical chair’ is described keeping tabs on the transportation of the Prisoner and comments, ‘He’ll be here soon’. So yes once again they’re taking the Prisoner back to the Village.
I know I’ve commented about this in my Think Tank review, but it’s worth commenting on again. When you write a sequel about a character trying to escape from the Village, which he already succeeded in achieving in the original series, it’s not inventive for him to face the same problem again. Also it raises further questions about Roger’s acknowledgements to the end of Fall Out. When you’ve got a title that mentions Rome, Roger could have written about the Village’s influence on the outside world.
When the Prisoner arrives, they ship him off to the hospital.

Watching all these developments is the latest No. 2, described as ‘large frame, bushy eyebrows and clipped whiskers.’ Wait a minute, doesn’t that sound like a perfect description of Leo McKern!? However, there’s no mention of him being this No. 2 so… I don’t know what to think. He heads off to the hospital where The Prisoner is being treated, and talks to the No. 38 (the Doctor) instructing her ‘I want his memory emptied as soon as possible’.
We then start the next chapter being introduced to a new character, Christine, whose badge number is 9. Surprisingly her personality is similar to that of the Prisoner’s. She does not enjoy joining in Village events and activities, and even enjoys going off to a secluded spot to be alone. She has also suffered an episode with Rover. It is said, ‘she had never before suffered such terror’ and ‘would never leave her pen again’. Now it is important to remember these descriptions about Christine, as her character will become very juxtaposing later on. At the moment, she essentially comes across as a female version of the Prisoner.
Suddenly Number 2 appears and takes her on a car journey asking whether she has been reading about the return of the Prisoner in the Tally Ho. We discover that she and the Prisoner share the same birthday. No. 2 takes her back to his place. He explains on the journey ‘you will become No.6’s companion […] you will meet him – accidentally of course.’

They arrive at the green dome, sit down and No. 2 starts recollecting everything they know about Christine. Similar to what they did in ‘Arrival’ for the Prisoner, she is shown a slide show of her life. In many ways it seems kind of odd that only now are they showing her all this. I thought the point of doing this on the Prisoner’s first day, was to show how powerful the Village were as a force, and the downtrodding of residents by making their lives seem trivial. But naturally this is all exposition for us, the reader, to get to know Christine better.
Actually for the first thirteen pages, Roger has surprisingly done well, keeping the story free of anything too stupid. However, that’s about to change when Christine asks an important question. During her conversation with No. 2, she is instructed that when she becomes the Prisoner’s friend she must report her findings. She then queries, ‘but what do I have to report?’
Which is answered with, ‘No. 6 resigned […] We know what from, when and how, what we do not know is why?’
They know why! Roger Langley gave an explanation in his Think Tank story. The Prisoner resigned because he hid delicate information, which he was meant to deliver, that went against his morals. Didn’t he? When I revisited Think Tank I discovered the line, ‘This was the object he had hidden on the day of his resignation.’
So when you look at it logistically, Langley never actually claimed that his Think Tank data, was the reason for why the Prisoner resigned. However, considering he hid the papers on the day of his resignation, I don’t know, you might be forgiven for thinking this was his incentive to why he resigned. I mean, if he didn’t resign after hiding those documents, would questions not have been raised asking what happened to those papers the Prisoner had been given?
I mean Roger Langley isn’t even consistent with his own writing. When you remember this line from Think Tank, ‘All during his previous stay in the Village he had know that it was not the reason for his resignation at all which they sought. It was the location of his hiding place.’ So what Langley meant to tell us is, that the question they asked the Prisoner throughout the series was wrong, and only asked the right question when they brought him back. Only to ask the wrong question again, because it was now the first question that was the right one.
They were even going to execute him in Think Tank, because he wasn’t going to reveal the location. Doesn’t the fact that they now want to know why he resigned juxtapose that scene? It’s almost like Langley didn’t know how to write a Prisoner story, without it featuring all the similar characters, location and tropes, but instead of writing a story set during the series, he decided to ignore his own story and the series continuity, to make his writing job easier.

So after over coming that bit of confusing text, we discover that Christine had worked in the same department as the Prisoner. Surprisingly she was the personal assistant to the character George Markstien played in the opening credits. What’s odd is that Roger, seems to describe his physique in a less that flattering light. Such as, “a man on the wrong side of 40”, “stout physique” and Christine “gasped almost inaudibly as the face she recalled suddenly filled the screen”.
Whilst we get some rather harsh descriptions of Markstien, Christine displays some unusual reactions. It turns out that Christine would have had the Prisoner’s file right in front of her, but never looked inside it because of her instructions. No. 2 comments “you always obeyed instructions to the letter didn’t you?” To which Christine is described as “she felt guilty as if she had been caught in the act of examining classified information, but there was no need for such feelings.” So if there’s no need to feel guilty, why does she feel guilty?
Later on in the scene, we discover that she was there on the day of his resignation, which No. 2 reveals they know about. Including the fact that she would have overheard everything. Christine’s reaction to this is described as “the young woman felt as if she might be blushing.” You don’t blush to something like that. I’m beginning to wonder if Langley is going to turn into one of those writers who badly wants too write a strong female character, but ends up writing them as overtly emotional. Plus do any of these reactions seem to fit into the character we were originally introduced to?
After all that, the scene finally ends with No. 2 showing footage of her incident with Rover as a reminder if she fails.

Wait a minute! Oh my! Christine is a Mary Sue!
Mary Sue is a term which has popped up in many a fan fictions. It is used when fan writers create a new character that is often amazing at everything, has strong connections with already established stories and characters, having numerous relationships with various canon characters, and ends up saving the day. Mary Sue’s can even be an insertion of the author themselves or their ideal opposite.
So what does Christine do to enter the world of the Mary Sue? She has strong connections with the Prisoner, she share the same birthday as him, even worked in the same job as him and was in the background of the opening titles somewhere. She certainly came across as a female version of the Prisoner. There’s no sign of her having any amazing talents so far, but there’s no doubt that we’ll find out more about her later.
The reasons why Mary Sue’s can become such a bad writing techniques is because they can end up dominating the story away from the original characters. The worst Mary Sue’s often get so many perfect talents they become too unrealistic to form any real connection with, and soon the reader ends up despising them. Before you know it, the Mary Sue becomes mind numbingly woven into the canon of the series.
It would be quite interesting to how much Christine would score in ‘The Universal Mary Sure Litmus Test’. It is a test where you can see whether a newly created character in fan fictions, has all the traits of a Mary Sue. I will pick up this point in the conclusion of the review.

The next day Christine heads over to the hospital where she asks to see the Prisoner. Wait a minute, you do remember the part of ‘[meeting] him accidentally’? It’s not very accidental if she visits him in his hospital room. In fact, the Prisoner has been known for reacting badly to women randomly showing up. In ‘It’s Your Funeral’, he immediately tries to chuck the Watch Maker’s daughter out of his apartment, before discovering why she’s really there.
So Christine is allowed into the Prisoner’s room and sits next to him until he wakes up, so they ‘accidentally meet’. When he does wake, we get some of the corniest lines you will ever read. When she tries to make polite conversation with him, the Prisoner responds with ‘…you’re insane, treating you for it, are they?’
That’s bad enough as it is, but it gets worse because the line is on the same paragraph as Christine’s last bit of dialogue. So it comes across as if Christine is openly mocking the Prisoner.
When she asks him if he wants her to get something, he responds with ‘someone in charge, for a start, and then lost!’ Try saying these beautifully crafted pieces of dialogue at dinner parties during conversations, and watch your friends grind their teeth before invoicing you for their dentist bills.

She eventually gets the message and leaves where she finds No. 2 waiting for her outside. He comments sarcastically ‘Cool reception.’ He doesn’t even seem to care that she’s failed his instructions. So for some reason No. 2 sends Christine to the Prisoner’s house, so she can familiarise the surroundings in order to feel comfortable in his presence. Surely that would be better achieved by understanding the Prisoner’s personality?
Whilst she’s decking out the joint, we discover that the Supervisors back. ‘Hurray’. With no reference to the events of Fall Out. ‘Oh’
Luckily the Supervisor is the first character to ask a sensible question, “How can we be sure that [No. 6] will react towards No. 9 in accordance with our plans and calculations?” The plan is, with the Prisoner’s memory gone; he will feel confused and lost. Christine is to become his friend, and help him remember who he is. So when he does remember why he resigned, he’ll confide in her, to which she’ll report back to No. 2.
What’s not clear is how much of his memory has been wiped, and we’ll discover later on that the Prisoner does remember some aspects of his original stay in the Village. However, his memory is patchy, so it’s not clear how much control the Village had over his wiping and we’ve seen from the memory wipe in “Do Not Foresake Me, Oh my Darling” how good they are at this sort of thing.
So how can they be sure their plans will succeed if they’re not in control? What if the Prisoner remembers why he resigned before he warms to Christine? What if he still remembers why he resigned? However, after all that plot hole pointing, No. 2’s response is “There will be no excuses for failure, because there will be no failure.” That’s very helpful No. 2.

When the Prisoner has fully recovered he wakes up to find himself in his old Village residence. Surprisingly, Christine sends the Prisoner a card apologising to him if she had upset him, and promises if they meet in the street she’ll never speak to him again. I won’t lie that sounds like a great way to apologise to the Prisoner. ‘I promise never to speak to you again.’
So the Prisoner goes on a walk, and its here I would like to criticise an aspect of Roger Langley’s writing. As the characters have numbers instead of names, he tries to avoid constantly referring to them as numbers, and instead identifies them by a title or description based on their actions or appearance. ‘The man on foot, wearing piped blazer.’ Now while this comes across as a clever idea at first, he’s often situating these titles when starting a new scene or inconsistently on the same page. It ends up with the reader getting confused about who is being described. There are several characters in the show that wear piped blazers. This could be anyone.
It’s not like Langley continues to describe the Prisoner in the same way, he keeps changing it. ‘The resident’, ‘the donor’, ‘the pedestrians’ and even ‘the butler’.

So after confusing The Prisoner with everyone including Bill from accounting, he goes to have a conversation with No. 2. Besides the fact that the conversation sounds like every other conversation every No. 2 has ever had with the Prisoner, we discover a little of what he remembers. It appears he remembers certain aspects of his life and previous stay in the village.
The Prisoner eventually leaves and goes for a walk, while the Doctor and No. 2 discuss the various ins and outs of the Prisoner’s memory loss. Apparently it will only last a week, by which time he should have gradually regained his full memory. No. 2 then asks ‘so when should we administer a further dose?’ To which the Doctor replies ‘…I’ve been through this with you already. If we exceed the permitted amount we could cause total amnesia in the patient.’
If you’ve already been through this before, why is he asking? Why didn’t Roger just write it so No. 2 was learning it for the first time?
Meanwhile, Christine has gone to the local café, when the Prisoner comes over and asks ‘mind if I join you?’ I have to admit in many ways this does seem to work. Regardless of the hospital scene, it’s all generally fallen into place. He is described earlier as being lonely. I hate to say it, but it appears Roger Langley has successfully written first contact between the Prisoner and a woman.
So they chat and we discover that the Prisoner can’t remember why he went to the hospital. So Christine invites him back to her place where she apparently has a newspaper article about his return.
At Christine’s place we discover that she is a very untidy individual as her flat is a mess. She finds the Tally Ho and gives it to him. Before he leaves, she say the final line of the chapter, “ ‘Do let me help, […] If there’s anything I can do.’ She also was being very careful not to overact” Umm…you might have overreacted.

Part 2

The Prisoner goes back to his flat and examines the Tally Ho, or as Langley dramatically likes to put it, ‘It was time to concentrate hard upon the Tally Ho.’ He’s able to deduce basic things and definitely remembers something about the No. 2. However he claims he’s never met him. I could have sworn it was going to be Leo McKern’s Number 2. I wonder why he described his No. 2 as having such similar features to McKern.
The Prisoner goes and makes some tea while thinking about the upcoming Appreciation Ball. The Village is celebrating with a big event filled with music and the like. Everyone’s invited and can bring a plus one. Although if everyone’s invited then there’s no plus ones to bring. When thinking about who he can bring he believes ‘it seemed that he might already have a candidate for the position…’
Why would the Prisoner willingly attend a Village function such as a ball? He was more or less forced to go to the one in Dance of the Dead. If Christine is meant to be similar to the Prisoner, then they’d probably stay inside and play scrabble.

The Prisoner then heads out to meet Christine at the Village Art Council Exhibition. Are you a bit lost? Well you should be, because this exhibition just appears out of nowhere without any previous references. The Appreciation Day has been mentioned through out the story, but this Exhibition had nothing. No one mentioned it and we never see the scene when the Prisoner and Christine decided to meet up there.
He finds Christine who hands him a pair of carved Villagers. In this scene, Roger makes the Prisoner sound like a real nuisance to buy for. “A distinct lack of expertise had crafted the couple,” and “would embarrass the owner of any home in which they stood”. Maybe next year we can buy the Prisoner a pair of socks.
Christine states “ ‘Aren’t they awful? […] You must put them on your mantelpiece. I insist’ She shrieked”. Roger, she’s your heroine. Why are you making her sound like an annoying damsel in distress? So the Prisoner asks her what she’s been up to, whilst described as “fingering some chess pieces on front of the counter.” Prisoner there’s no need for that!

She responds saying she had her fortune read, and proceeds to lead him to a booth where a mysterious tarot lady resides. Now while this scenario sounds interesting, this scene will not serve anything to the plot and will never be mentioned again. It’s a shame. If an actual episode featured a fortuneteller, you know it would be steeped in metaphorical meaning. It might not have even got in, when you consider Patrick McGoohan removed instances of religious imagery from the show.
Even the Prisoner, in my opinion seems out of character with his reactions towards the tarot lady. He’s constantly described as being very uncomfortable. ‘[He] could muster no thought other than a compelling urge to vacate the stall as quickly as possible.’ Whenever the Prisoner has been presented with something he’s sceptical about, he’s often more cynical and sarcastic; Just like his attitude towards the therapy group in Change of Mind.
So if this scene wasn’t already disappointing, the tarot lady doesn’t even say anything mysterious, but instead jeopardises the whole mission of the Village. ‘Enjoy your surroundings, become interested in your daily life, make friends. There is somebody you have met. This person is in need of your company and can be a great friend to you also.’
Well if that isn’t the most obvious bit of patronising brainwashing you ever heard. Come on guys, this is the Prisoner. You tell him to make a cup of coffee he goes out and buys himself a mug of tea. Also Christine’s meant to be undercover. If you even hint at the idea he should be friends with her, he’s just going to get suspicious. She almost failed by randomly turning up at the hospital, but then redeemed herself by saying she’d never speak to him again, and now you almost ruin it another time.
However thanks to the Prisoner being highly out of character, he doesn’t even bat an eyelid. So he leaves the booth and say to Christine, “well let’s go and place Nos. 6 and 9 on the mantelpiece.”

Meanwhile No. 2 is observing them both. He gets out a dictaphone, and probably one of my most favourite lines occurs here. Just admire its nonsensicalness: ‘Today represents a pair of tweezers. Tomorrow, those tweezers will become pliers. The day after will see forceps in use. The following day will be tongs. The final day will be the vice.’
Beautiful, just beautiful. You’ve got your Brontë, your Dickens, your Steinbeck and then you’ve got your Roger Langley on top. This monologue comes out of nowhere, and just astounds you with its unbelievable sparseness.
It’s not even worth interpreting because that gives Langley far too much credit. All I’ll say is that forceps and tweezers can be the same thing, so you’re not that clever Langley.

So the next chapter opens up with No. 2 quizzing Christine about how her interaction with the Prisoner is going? Asking questions such as ‘what did you talk about?’ Aren’t you the Village? Don’t you normally watch everything the Prisoner does?
Meanwhile the Prisoner himself goes and buys a clock-work musical box as a present for Christine, which he intends to give her on a prearranged walk together.
No. 2 decides he wants to over hear everything during this walk. So a crew of technicians get to work planting, as they call them, ears, around the proposed route. Now I don’t want to insinuate anything, but Langley doesn’t seem to be very creative when writing for his leading lady.
The Prisoner and Christine do not notice the technicians because they are described as being engaged in certain tasks. No. 6 is ‘dozing’ and No. 9 ‘busying herself with her hair.’ I’m not saying that Langley is sexist, but if the first idea he had to keep his heroine occupied was her hair, then he’s pretty clueless.
So countless ears are put up around the Village. However, in Langley’s own description, ‘there was a problem if more than a certain number of transmitted audio signals were being received at any one time’. What I love the most is that he doesn’t even give a reason for why the ears don’t work. He goes on to say ‘for this reason, the ears were limited, relatively, in amount.’ That’s not a reason Roger, that’s a statement. A reason is where you explain something.
So the techs ‘[adapt] the normal system’, ‘doubling the number of ears’, ‘improved an isolating system’, ‘enabling groups of the transmitters to be shut off’ and ‘leaving only an area or two sending live broadcasts’.

Langley one of the great things about the show was that it was allegorical, metaphysical and interpretational. That’s how the Village comes across as powerful and an omnipresent force. When you actually describe to us how it all works you lose a bit of that supreme dominance that made the Prisoner’s fight all the more a struggle.
Apparently they’re putting so much effort into monitoring the two, the rest of the Village will not be under surveillance for an hour or two. One of the best parts in his description is what could happen. ‘If any of the senior citizens decided to plot a rebellion, or if any of the chess players were planning an up rising, this afternoon was their chance.’ Out of all the people who were going to start a riot, I always thought it would be these two groups. We all remember that episode where the senior citizens and chess players lynch mob Rover, ousted No. 2 out of power and asked ‘is that Leo McKern or is that somebody who looks like him?’
So the Prisoner and Christine go on their walk which is closely monitored by everyone. Finally they go as far as they can, because there’s a warning sign telling them not to go any further. This is so blunt, most people know that Rover will get them, the Village do not need a sign telling people not to walk too far. We all remember the episode where Rover killed the chess players, No. 2 formed a cue against the Senior Citizens and Leo McKern was on the phone to him agent asking whether he was meant to be in the episode or not.
Amazingly they’ve gone out of visual range because they are no cameras that far, (or in Langley Land, ‘eyes’). You see Village; this is what happens when you put too much effort into one thing. You forget about putting camera’s up and your old aged pensioner’s riot. However, the Village can still hear the pair and apparently, ‘their position now only noted by [a] blip on the board…’
After sitting down on a bench, the Prisoner decides to give Christine the music box, which she is delighted to receive. As their conversation continues, Christine reveals her birthday, which leads to the Prisoner to ask what she did before she came to the Village. Apprehensively she begins to explain, and soon he realises they worked at the same place.
What’s really odd is that Christine’s reactions here seems so out of place. Christine is described as ‘tears […] began to fill the girl’s eyes.’ I don’t know why she’s getting all teary eyed. Considering we were introduced to her as a female version of the Prisoner, this seems out of character for her.

Slowly the Prisoner begins to clock that something is up, which is helped by the fact he finds the ear planted on the back of the bench. He goes over to a near by empty cab and discovers another ear. Wow, the Village sounds so threatening. He sits back down with Christine, signalling to her to carry on the conversion. Obviously the Prisoner has also worked out that they’re not being watched. Isn’t he a clever man?
Whilst making up nonsense chit chat, the Prisoner winds up the music box, and let’s it play, drowning out their voices. For a tense few minutes everyone observing them waits anxiously to rejoin the conversation. Once it stops, they discover they’re gone, and they don’t know where. Even though they should be able to see them escaping as blips on the board.
The two enter the nearby taxi, where the Prisoner asks her what’s going on, whilst ‘he had hold of her hands in his.’ That’s very out of character for the Prisoner. So Christine explains everything, from overhearing him rant at George Markstien, to being enlisted by No. 2 to spy on him. For some reason she’s crying. It is described that after getting to know the Prisoner, she feels guilty for conspiring against him. But the crying just comes across as annoying because it’s not the character we were first introduced to.
First impressions are so important in writing. When Christine made her first appearance, Langley described her as preferring to keep her own name and “[she] was not quite the model citizen they would have preferred.” What’s also important to remember is that most people reading this are going to be Prisoner fans. The fact that the Village is allowing her to keep her name is a huge honour.
So the reason I am ranting on about this point is because I was introduced to a strong, independent and defiant woman. Since that first appearance she has failed to display anything remotely similar to that. So far she’s just been a disappointment.

Getting back to the story, the Prisoner understands the reasons for why she did what she did, and tries to tell her that if they keep up the charades they can plot an escape together. Or as the Prisoner liked to put it, ‘you are about to give the best acting performance in the history of stage’. I don’t know, Patrick McGoohan was pretty good in ‘Brand’ in 1959, it’ll be hard to top that performance.
However, Christine becomes overwhelmed with emotions and starts sprinting across the beach; from this point on I think we should just assume that Christine has two personalities, one of which succeeds the other. The Prisoner knows this will trigger Rover and begins to fire up the taxi. This is signified by ‘No. 6 engaged first gear.’ What! No ‘first year’. It’s not a proper Prisoner story if there’s no first year.
As he’s speeding down the beach, Rover awakens and starts heading towards Christine. Meanwhile back in the control room No. 2 is desperately trying to cancel Rover with no avail. The Supervisor interjects, ‘we cannot cancel […] No alert has been ordered. They must have entered the forbidden zone […] It’s programmed to kill.’
So a convoy of guards are sent to rescue Christine and the Prisoner. However, Christine has been scared still by the appearance of Rover, so the Prisoner decides to ram it. At a hundred miles per hour the Prisoner crashes into Rover stopping it in its path. The guards arrive to take the two, who have both collapsed, to recover in the hospital.

I have to say this scene is pretty intense. What’s even more amazing is that this scene is also incredibly bad at the same time. What I haven’t told you is the negative side to this scene, only the positives. So let’s go back and review.
For starters, Christine running away. We’ve already gone over the inconsistency of her character, but we can certainly say that when you first read this scene you do get a bit confused. She could have simply have said ‘no’ to the Prisoner’s plan.
Rover is the biggest problem of the piece. Once again, the Village is made to look completely helpless, being unable to control Rover. This is not only helpfully displayed by the Supervisor’s comments, but No. 2 saying ‘Cancel! Cancel! Cancel!’ while being described as ‘[screaming at] his electronic board in disbelief’.
While there’s no doubt that Rover does kill, it’s unsure whether the Village would really be that powerless to stop it. Obviously in ‘The Schizoid Man’ Rover did kill Curtis and obviously did it without being instructed to. However, besides that very little was shown of the incident, so we can’t really be sure of what the Village’s involvement was. Very much like the ‘ears’, too much detail is given as to how it works and all it does is to lesson the tension of the entire scene.
How Rover is stopped can also be questioned. While The Prisoner does drive into it, there’s no description of this destroying or incapacitating Rover. For some reason it just stops attacking them. We’ve already been told it’s programmed to kill, so why does it not kill them when Christine and the Prisoner collapse? We know in ‘Arrival’ he crashed a taxi into it, and it still continued.
Putting all those points aside, the funniest parts of this scene is some of the descriptions. When Rover leaves it’s said ‘the murderous apparition had disappeared, having retreated to lick it’s wounds and plot revenge.’ For starters if Rover received any wounds it would simply pop. Secondly, I love this idea of Rover trying to plot its revenge. How does a bobbing white ball do that?

However, there is one bit of description which is the greatest off them all. It starts off with this genuinely beautiful picture of the Prisoner crashing into Rover, followed by the stupidest conclusion ever.
‘No. 6 hurled himself from the rocketing vehicle and hit the sand like a meteor landing from space. His last aural sensations, prior to oblivion, were comparable to a banshee being slaughtered by straying into the path of an express train. No. 9 had long since fainted.’
This made me laugh so much when I first read this. It is one of the best descriptions in the whole story, giving you a sense of the emotions No. 6 feels after jumping from a fast moving vehicle. Then suddenly Langley throws in this wimpy bit about Christine and it completely destroys the feel for the moment. Once again Christine fainting seems to be all she does in this story.
So there we are people, Roger Langley’s best and worst scene together.

Part 3

So once they arrive at hospital, they are treated for their wounds and only till the next morning, does No. 2 decide to question Christine about the event.
Before Christine begins, she thinks upon what the Prisoner said to her about escaping together if they keep up the charade. As the Prisoner said, and is reiterated here, ‘she had ahead of her the biggest acting job ever undertaken in or out of a theatre.’ I don’t know, Patrick McGoohan was still pretty good in a ‘Pack Of Lies’ in 1984.
So she begins to deceive No. 2, stating that the Prisoner went wild when he found the ears, and began insinuating she was a spy, and that is why she ran away from him. So after giving the whole story and (something I particularly like) giving No. 2 some stick for not telling her about his plan to keep tabs on them, he relents and apologises.
She begs him to let her try again and to get the information out of him, to which he agrees. After he’s left, Christine asks the Doctor whether she can see the Prisoner, demanding “surely I have to restore his confidence in me. No. 2 has given orders.”
Wait a minute; this is the Prisoner we’re talking about. I know Christine is lying to No. 2, but she just claimed that the Prisoner thought she was in alliance with the Village. According to the Village he’s going to be more paranoid than ever. You can’t just go to his hospital bed, after his hissy fit and try to rebuild a relationship. In fact she did absolutely the same thing at the start of the novel when she went to become his accidental friend.
So she visits him where they make quaint conversation and then these last two sentences finish off the chapter. “She wanted to press the [Prisoner’s] lips with hers but the act might be seen as conflicting with her role as his enemy. The kiss would have to wait.”
No. There should be no kissing. This is the Prisoner we’re talking about, he doesn’t kiss anyone besides his fiancé Janet. In fact the Janet, along with the wedding, has failed to be mentioned more than twice in the entire book.

So the Prisoner and Christine are taken back to their homes, where they rest for a couple of days. Once they’re better Christine goes round to the Prisoner’s house where, whilst keeping up the pretence, he makes sniped remarks to her insinuating she’s a spy.
No. 2 observes this and starts to wonder ‘[is he] genuinely hostile towards her, or [is he] play acting.’

The Prisoner and Christine go to her favourite secluded spot to catch up with each other. There she begins to recount anything important from the Prisoner’s past that she knows about. From apparent locations he went to before he resigned, to people he met and No. 2’s mission to get the information out of him, (which she already told him, so that was pointless).
Eventually one name clicks with him, Chambers. Before long he is able to recite everything about his past including ‘the last name he spoke was his own.’
While his name is never written down in the pages, it’s a constant reminder of how real the world of the Prisoner has become. The reasons for why it was left out brought in so many interpretations and representations for the character. In the opening titles he always say ‘I am not a number, I am a free man’. Not ‘I am not a number, my name is Bob.’ Without a name he literally becomes the ‘every man’.
What’s most baffling is that Prisoner decides to miss out two names, Sir Charles Portland and Janet. Well at least she’s finally been mentioned again, but the Prisoner is described as being ‘pensive’. Now while there’s no doubt that the Prisoner could be concerned about her, they were meant to married before the start of the story, it doesn’t really explain why he fails to say anything about her.
It’s almost like the Prisoner is worried that Christine will not help him if she finds out he has a fiancé. Considering she contemplated kissing the Prisoner in the hospital, I guess it’s not an unfair assumption. However, you’d then expect the Prisoner to lay the cards on the table and say ‘I’m engaged’.

So they set off and thanks to the Village not having any surveillance equipment at Christine’s favourite spot, they have no idea that they are in cahoots with each other. When they are re-seen on camera, looking content with one another, No. 2 assumes they have resolved their problems.
It’s really odd, but there are some scenes where the change and development of characters is written so smoothly, that it comes across as a natural progression. The Prisoner and Christine’s fake rekindled friendship seems very fluent to the story.
The next day, No. 2 heads to the hospital to have yet another meeting with Christine. So pretty much questions which have already been asked before are asked again, and then she is allowed to leave. Once she is gone No. 2 and the Doctor watch a recording of the conversation they just had. Due to certain mannerisms on Christine’s face the Doctor comments ‘somehow I don’t think she is levelling with us.’
Meanwhile, the Prisoner starts recollecting over all the information he has learnt. For some reason, Roger describes the Prisoner’s attitude towards Christine being rather blunt. ‘Once the girl had enlightened him’, ‘as long as the girl revealed nothing of his progress’ and ‘provided the girl’s mendacity continues’.
Why is Christine being referred to as ‘the girl’? I thought the Prisoner and Christine were working together to escape the Village? Here, it still sounds like the Prisoner doesn’t trust her. Throughout this story Roger has the habit of making Christine sound like a damsel of distress and the Prisoner a grumpy man.
While the Prisoner was grumpy and aggressive at some points in the series he was still likable. In fact, I think Langley has gotten confused with the personality of the Prisoner. In the series he was certainly angry, but that was only because he was uncomplacent and had been kidnapped against his will. I think Langley has interpreted this as the Prisoner’s personality being grumpy.
Here, however, similar to his attitude with the carved Villagers, he comes across so petulant that I do not connect with him.

During all of this, The Prisoner watches from outside his apartment a group of guards practicing formation routines for the up coming Appreciation Day. If you thought that the Prisoner couldn’t be any more out of character, take a look at this.
‘No. 6 had not been unimpressed with this show of force. On whatever side might existed, he could still appreciate precession drilling. His thoughts wandered back to his own days in the forces. He had enjoyed the grooming, parading and inspections. Turning in anything less than a one hundred percent performance was out of the question. Brilliance and bravery had always been the order of the day.’
What am I reading? Is this really the Prisoner or is this more likely the unseen No. 7. When would the Prisoner ever like anything like this? Further on in the text it does mention that he’s ‘[disgusted] for the band of men’ and feels they are ‘instruments of a totalitarian regime.’
So he obviously doesn’t like what it represents, but I don’t know whether he appreciates the precision or marching. The Prisoner hates totalitarianism, so it seems odd that he likes the sight of it in this scene rather than being absolutely disgusted.
If he had been watching a group of dazzling acrobats or choreographed dancers then maybe this description might have worked, but using guards just juxtaposes his personality.
Christine turns up asking the Prisoner whether he wants to go for a picnic. He agrees asking where they’re going to go. “I thought we might try the woods” she almost blushed.’ Stop blushing at the simplest things; I expect her head to explode soon with all that blood rushing to it.
During their walk Christine’s stomach rumbles and the Prisoner say’s ‘Not far now.’ Wait a minute wasn’t Christine leading. What the Prisoner said isn’t a question. Eventually they come to a grassy clearing and she states ‘ “you knew this spot was here!” Accused Christine!’ Don’t accuse him, you suggested going to the woods.

Once they sit down the Prisoner asks ‘why haven’t you asked me the reason for my resignation?’ A very good question that should have been asked in Think Tank. After chocking on a piece of bread (I’m not joking that is in the description) Christine responds with, ‘well things have, er changed. Don’t you think? […] I’m on your side.’ The Prisoner responds with ‘…I trust you.’
Again shouldn’t the Prisoner already trust her and visa versa? Why’s he playing these mind tricks now? Didn’t we just have a whole scene where he told her everything about himself? That would have been a good point to feature this dialogue. Or is the forbidden fiancée Janet still lingering on his mind.
So with that all sorted out, Christine suggests, ‘here have another grape’, and what proceeds is extraordinary. ‘…she laughed, throwing one at his head. Her aim was on target and the victim of the assault made a retaliatory strike with a radish. The missile bounced off Christine’s shoulder.’
Food fight! It’s amazing. Free For All had it’s political agendas. The General had its stance on root learning! Even Shattered Visage had its own version of the controversial 1987 book Spycatcher. And Roger Langley decided to have a food fight. Brilliant! Some birds observing this escapade are described as ‘looking down in disgust.’ I think I might have to go and join them.
Once they finish the food, they decided to lie down on the grass. After discussing the appreciation day, Christine is described as ‘[leaning] over him.’ Christine what are you doing? She says ‘I’m so happy, I could kiss you.’ Then see if you come to the same conclusion I did.
‘Her recumbent prisoner continued to say nothing. No. 9 took this as acquiescence. An audience of hungry feathered onlookers suffered in silence as the heartless couple below them proceeded to indulge in a cruel display of time wasting.’

I have no doubt in my mind that they kissed. This is a constant problem with writers (both professional and amateur) that they try to push sexuality on a character that simply doesn’t need it. Other examples would be the Doctor, Sherlock Holmes and Judge Dredd. With all of them, a relationship would more hinder their progression as a character, when previously they’ve shown no interest in relationships or being with people. As a result it would get in the way of what they serve to the story.
While ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darlin’ is often considered the worst episode of the series, it does add an interesting angle to what type of person the Prisoner is.
For quite awhile in fiction it’s normally been established that while men disappeared off on their journeys, the female partner would keep herself pure and celibate. While the man, eventually coming back to the woman could end up having various relationships along his travels. In the Prisoner, you can interpret it as being reversed. The Prisoner himself remains celibate, never forming a relationship with another woman in the Village, waiting one day to see Janet. While this may only have occurred because of Patrick McGoohan’s refusal to kiss another woman, the circumstances can always suggest further readings of the character.
Now while a kiss may not be that bad, what is meant by ‘time-wasting’? What did Langley mean by that? A kiss? A snog? More than a kiss? Sexual Intercourse? The possibilities send shivers down my spine. Also what about Janet? Is the Prisoner still in love with her? Once again this is a perfect example of common Mary Sue’s tropes. They often fall in love with canon characters, even if they already have other halves at home.

So once they’ve finished their nastiness, they head back to the Village where they bump into No. 2, who requests to see Christine. Naturally, pretty much the same scene that we’ve seen up to about ten times occurs again. After getting nowhere, they both retire for the night.
The next day, which is one day before appreciation day, we discover that the Village is in full swing in preparing the events. We discover that the big annual event of the day, is the unveiling of a plaque, which contains a new word each year. The word is used by the Villagers ‘to represent [their] goals, hopes and aspirations.’
Once again, Langley has come up with an idea that is really interesting and yet won’t be fully utilised. If the Villagers live their lives depending on this word, couldn’t the Prisoner sneakily change the word that will cause chaos? That could be an entire Prisoner story by itself.

Whilst the Prisoner is reading the Tally Ho, Christine arrives and they discuss an escape plan. Meanwhile, Number 2 is desperately trying to overhear them in the surveillance room. During a weird bit of descriptive narrative, it sounds like Langley is pointing out flaws in The Prisoner’s series concept. These are all meant to be the inner thoughts of the surveillance crew, but you judge for yourself.
‘All this spying, surveillance and listening in seemed pointless. If the man intended to escape, or plot to over throw the Village, or reveal his hidden knowledge why not give him enough rope to hang himself? The answer, surely, was not to keep him under constant guard. Give him some freedom of movement, let him sense a slacking of restrictions, allow him to feel uninhibited and, then, nail him to the spot. Coerce him into revealing his knowledge, block all exits, clamp down on his every move. It was so obvious.’
I know that Langley has described this as the thoughts of the operators, but that was perhaps a little too much detail. There will always be little nick-knacks which can be pointed out about every show, but there is always willing suspension of disbelief in the right circumstances. Here, however, Roger openly mocks the entire premise of the show in his own story. I would like to remind everyone that Langley once wrote ‘…what seems to have escaped unchallenged is why anyone would want to be an individual in the first place.’
But No. 2 is not in time, and only gets one line from Christine. ‘Isn’t that a bit risky.’ After that the pair goes off to talk about their plans somewhere more secluded. No. 2 naturally storms off in frustration to start a new plan.
Meanwhile everything has been completed for the celebrations, and the only things that could stop it is, ‘bad weather, ill health of No.2 and earthquakes.’ Yeah, any number of those things could ruin the appreciation day. In fact, I’ve got one of the original drafts of ‘When In Rome’ and I know that that scene went on a bit longer. ‘Bad weather, ill health of No. 2, earthquakes, meteorites, zombie attacks, hay fever epidemic, plane crash, unexpected gas main explosion, triffid invasion, elephant stampede, Sharknado or senior citizens and chess players alliance uprising.’

Eventually the pair go back to their own homes and Christine is given the old chloroform on a hanky routine. Being the Village you might have thought piping gas, or drugging might be a preferred option, but the old ways are still good.
When she wakes up she discovers she’s been clamped down to a chair in a dark room with a monitor in front of her. Once again, the scene that is to transpire is going to be both really good and really bad. In this scene they torture her by showing footage of Rover, along with its screeching roar. With the help of hallucinogenic drugs, which Christine is induced with, she starts to believe she is actually being attack by Rover.
Really terrifying descriptions are given such as ‘[she felt] both hot and cold in rapid succession’, and ‘the blood in her veins and ceased to circulate.’
Eventually the visuals cease and Christine is left an emotional wreck. No. 2, shouting loudly over head speakers asks, ‘why did No. 6 resign?’, and Christine responds with ‘I don’t know’. Suddenly more footage of Rover footage is played, also featuring images of the Prisoner, whilst No. 2 instructs her ‘No.6 is your enemy. He is causing your suffering. You must betray him…’
Finally the Doctor enters demanding the torture should stop, stating she’ll die soon. Reluctantly No. 2 gives up and they transport her back to her apartment.
This scene is dramatic, bold and terrifying. The best bit is you feel for Christine and the awful experience she goes through. But there are two things wrong with this scene, one big and one small. Let’s start with the small one.
At the start of the scene Christine is described as thinking, ‘...surely [No. 2] was her friend? He would not allow any harm to come her way. She would be safe. No. 2 would protect her. The Village leader was her saviour. It was No. 6 who was her enemy. No. 6 was an enemy of the Village.’
Why is she thinking this before the torture has begun? We’ve already established that she and the Prisoner are working together to escape. Heck, they’ve even kissed and done possibly more which only Roger Langley and God know about. She’s been deliberately deceiving No. 2. These thoughts are almost like they were written too early in the scene, and simply don’t fit.
The big problem lies with her fear with Rover, or as I like to dub it Rover-Phobia. If we remember from the start of the story, Christine is said to have found her first encounter with Rover as ‘never before had she suffered such terror’ and ‘she would never leave her pen again.’ Now to be honest you could easily put that description to the Prisoner and it would work. None of that ever leads us to believe that Christine developed a genuine physiological fear of Rover. And because this Rover-Phobia is never introduced clearly, you go through the entire torture scene questioning why she’s reacting the way she is. In many ways this now explains why she fainted during the scene on the beach.
To be honest this could have been a really interesting character trait. Some of our favourite characters have deep routed problems. So much could have been explored with Christine, but in the end this phobia is used once and is never seen again.

Part 4

The next day she wakes up in her apartment and goes soul searching, coming to the conclusion that the Prisoner is her enemy. Meanwhile, The Prisoner is pacing in his bedroom, having expected Christine to visit him twenty minutes ago. He eventually decides that he’ll go to her place to find out what has happened to her.
When he arrives, he discovers she’s not there and decides to wait for her. Whilst waiting he begins to recollect things from his first stay at the Village. His mind flashes back to the events of ‘Dance of the Dead’ when he discovered the body of a man on the beach. What’s more he then remembers that the picture he found in the wallet of the man featured a younger version of Christine and the man himself.
This is exactly another trait of what Mary Sue’s become. They develop into parasites, leeching themselves onto all sorts of established continuity. What on earth is this picture business going to bring to the story or character?
Eventually Christine returns, and we discover that her attitude towards the Prisoner has changed drastically. She say such things as ‘why can’t you stay away from me’, ‘Get out [...] I mustn’t be seen with you’ and ‘I’m No. 9’
Oh jeeze it looks like the village has really got to her, what are you going to do Prisoner? ‘Three alternatives occurred to No. 6; he could either leave, or he could shout and shake some sanity into her or he could slap her face.’
What!? ‘The velocity of his palm could not be finely judged, under the pressing circumstances. A hand made a direct hit on her cheek, the strike violently jolting her head and causing her eyes to open wide in astonishment.’

Now wait a minute, not only is that out of character, but it almost feels like it wouldn’t appear in the series. While kissing another woman is grandiose, having him slap a woman is like having him brutally murdering someone, it doesn’t fit.
The original television show itself had many strong female characters roles equal to those of the male ones. The image of the Prisoner slapping a woman just comes across as the most undermining element, quickly followed by constant descriptions of Christine washing her hair. Particularly when you consider Roger Langley wrote this in 1986, by which point you’d have thought the world would have progressed by now.
One of the notable things about this scene is whether there was really much incentive behind the Prisoner’s actions. It is described that Christine is getting hysterical. When someone has gotten hysterical the best way to stop them is to do something unexpected; e.g. swearing, chucking water over them and, yes, even slapping them.
But in this case it doesn’t work. Christine does not come across as hysterical but instead scared, and in turn this makes the Prisoner’s actions seem extreme. Especially when you consider the fact that he has not tried anything calmer first. But might we remind ourselves that she’s been brainwashed and not hysterical. You can’t just slap someone out of their brainwashed mind. If she considers him the enemy then slapping her is just feeding the fire.

However putting all these things aside, the slap, sadly, does work and the Prisoner questions her about the photo. She tells him the man in the photo with her, including the body, was her brothers, who apparently went missing behind the iron curtain. So that’s it for the brother, that whole Mary Sue insertion into Dance of the Dead, it does not serve anything else to the story.
Christine goes on to describe the torture she endured and eventually she regains her confidence in the Prisoner. So there you have it folks, when a family member or friend is brainwashed, just give them a good slap.

What amazes me the most is what point did the torture scene serve to the story? If Christine ends up exactly the same way she was before the torture scene so easily, what was the point of changing her mind at all? The only thing that this has done has made No. 2 believe that she is on his side. That’s it.
This also questions No. 2’s plan. Remember, he wants Christine to find out why the Prisoner resigned. However, No. 2 felt that she had become too friendly with the man. So the torture scene was meant to reiterate to her which side she was supposed to be on. Instead she didn’t even want to see the Prisoner, ‘why can’t you stay away from me.’ So how is she meant to find out why he resigned if she doesn’t even want to see him anymore?

With their friendship back in full swing, they discuss their plan one more time, before putting it into action. They begin individually mingling with the Villagers who are celebrating the Appreciation day. Christine sits at a café, while the Prisoner, visits the retirement home. Oh No! The Prisoner and the senior citizens! What kind of havoc are they going to come up with?
Of course they do nothing of the sort and with all the excitement going on no one notices the Prisoner making his way to the hospital. Thanks to the celebrations, the hospital is completely empty, because the staff and patients have gone to join the party.
The Prisoner smashes his way in and finds his medical record and discovers what drug they pumped him with. He then goes to a cabinet, picks a phial of the stuff and leaves.

Meanwhile, No. 2 is thoroughly enjoying the celebrations, when he spots Christine. He goes over to speak to her, and she claims, ‘I have the information you require.’ Naturally eager to talk further with her, he instructs, ‘before my address, at four O’clock, I will be leaving the Town Hall. Wait for me there.’
It’s all heating up!
While No. 2 goes off to do his thing, The Prisoner returns and sits on a bench besides Christine. There the Prisoner gives the phial to Christine and they once again go their own ways. Christine heads towards No. 2, while the Prisoner seeks out the Doctor, thinking ‘she must not be allowed to remain on duty during the remainder of this particular afternoon.’ Well I didn’t think she was that bad at her job.
When he finds her, they begin talking and the Prisoner claims to be having strange memories which are confusing him. When the Doctor asks what these memories are about, the Prisoner responds saying he can’t remember, but has written them down at his place. Fearing that he might get his memories back any day now, the Doctor says she’ll go back to his place and help him.
The Prisoner and the Doctor enter his cottage, and only a few minutes later, he is the only one to leave, carrying under his arm the Doctor’s medical coat. It’s stated ‘It’s owner would at least be able to treat herself when she awoke. A prescription for a couple of aspirins should be adequate to cure her headache.’
What did the Prisoner do to the Doctor to knock her out? After being left with the image of him slapping Christine, I don’t have high hopes.

Christine on the other hand is brewing her dastardly plan. After buying two fizzy drinks she arrives at the town hall and starts to pour the amnesia drug into one of them. No. 2 comes out and asks her what she knows. Amazingly she convinces him that now is not the time to discuss it, and instead decide to meet up after No. 2’s speech. She then offers him the drug riddled drink and he polishes it off.
No. 2 goes off to makes his speech, and Christine meets up with the Prisoner who hands her the Doctor’s coat. They head to the bottom of the Village to the grassy field where helicopters land, and hide in some bushes.
No. 2 steps onto the public balcony and addresses the entire Village in the plaza. However, the drug starts to take immediate effect and soon No. 2’s speech sounds confused and lost. Until finally he can’t even remember why he is there.
He is carted away, and the whole appreciation day falls on death ears. The Butler unveils the word which turns out to be ‘Loyalty’. Surprisingly that word does have relevance to the story. Roger’s writing is so inconsistent that you half expect the word to just be random. Like ‘earthquakes’ or ‘tweezers’. The Butler then heads back to the green dome and finds a present has been left at the front door. A box containing the two figurines Christine bought.

Meanwhile the Prisoner and Christine are watching a stationary helicopter. The plan is for Christine to convince the pilot to transport them off the Village, whilst she pretends to be a Doctor and the Prisoner pretends being a patient, in need of specialist treatment.
For some reason Christine is incredibly doubtful about herself. ‘She would have been bound to fail in her task.’ Come on Christine, you managed to get into the Prisoner’s hospital room twice without better reasons.
However the pilot abandons his post, and heads towards the Village, meaning they no longer need the plan or the Doctor’s coat. Langley this is your story, you spent eight pages setting up this plan and scenario and then you didn’t use it! Granted that could happen in real life, but you’re writing a linear story, real life doesn’t always work.

With the pilot gone, the Prisoner and Christine make their way over to the helicopter and once again the Prisoner just sounds so derogatory towards her. ‘“Come on!” Shouted No. 6 at Christine.’ ‘He pulled the girl along behind him, his left hand tightly holding her right.’ ‘“Get in!” he yelled…’ God Prisoner, you don’t have to be so forceful about it, she wants to escape the Village as much as you do.
Whilst a long and suspenseful moment of the Prisoner trying to start up the helicopter, we get this beautiful image. ‘No. 6 tapped one or two gauges with his fingers, if only to keep him from chewing a nail.’ I really do not think the Prisoner would ever chew his nails when he’s nervous.
Eventually they take off and to be honest a really nice scene involving them flying over the Village is told. Kind of reminders me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when they fly over the town in the glass elevator.
As they sail off towards civilisation Christine comments on a regret, ‘we didn’t go to the Ball together.’ The Prisoner responds with ‘Don’t worry, we will […] Just as soon as we get home.’ How about you contact your fiancé which you left on your wedding day first? That would be interesting to explain to her.

So as you’d guess Christine and the Prisoner do go dancing, him a forty year old man and her a twenty year old woman. I only get some strange image of her dancing with excitement and him dancing the way he did in Dance of the Dead.
Several months after that, Christine is waiting at her flat for the Prisoner’s arrival, having prepared a whole romantic evening. I wonder what Janet thinks of all this. By the way she’s never mentioned in this story again, I just like to think she’s somewhere.
However, at the Prisoner’s and Christine’s old work place, George Markstein’s character is looking over their files. He then sends, a courier on a motorbike out to an address with a parcel.
When the Prisoner arrives, we discover it’s their birthdays, and they both enjoy a relaxing evening together. However this is later interrupted when the motorbike turns up outside her flat, and the courier leaves the present by her front door before disappearing. Christine brings the parcel inside, with no knowledge of whom it’s from and opens it. Much to their horror, they find it is the two figurines from the Village accompanied by a letter saying, ‘Many Happy Returns’. This is followed by a noise coming through the key whole. The final scene of this whole story has us being introduced to a new No. 2, and she nearly breaks the fourth wall by saying ‘Be seeing you’ to no particular person.

So there you have it, and what is my conclusion? Well if I have to be honest, I’m going to agree with Liz Caldwell and say this was a much better story than Think Tank. However it took me quite a while to work out why, but I got there in the end. Think Tank’s main problem is that it’s not a story, it’s simply two ideas rolled up into one adventure (the Prisoner being tricked into believing he’s grown old and then all the stuff about the Think Tank operation.)
When In Rome, was about the relationship between Prisoner and Christine, and about them learning to work together to escape from the Village. Because of this, When In Rome, clearly comes across as if it knows which direction it’s going, unlike Think Tank.
However don’t get me wrong. When In Rome is a terrible story. Its storyline is convoluted at points and sometimes down right stupid. The way characters are referred to by their appearance makes it sometimes impossible to grasp who’s being described. The fact that Langley writes in so many proses just comes across as him being pretentious. Christine/Mary Sue, is probably his worst creation yet.
When putting Christine through the ‘The Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test’, I could only answer section three, because the test is really for the author to fill out.
I ticked such questions as ‘If your character is not actually related, does [she] have other connections to the canon characters?’, ‘How many major canon characters fall for/are attracted to your character?’ and ‘Is your character involved in a canon character’s past somehow?’
Despite only filling out one section I managed to get a score of 53. The highest number you have to reach, before a character is can officially be considered a definite Mary Sue is 50. Enough said.
One of the things I seemed to have over looked when reviewing Think Tank was asking ‘where’s the allegory’? Not once through out this book did it ever feel anything deep as the series gave us.
Then there are the unexplained questions which were left unanswered in Think Tank. Like what happened to Leo McKern’s No. 2 and No. 46, who without explanation, were back on the Village’s side? After the ending of this story, there no doubt that Langley has absolutely no clue about how to write a sequel for the Prisoner. When In Rome could have been quite easily set during the series, and in many ways I would have given it more credit for that.
So what does the final story in Langley’s trilogy hold? I don’t know because I haven’t read it. And I won’t for a while.



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