Deadly Games, from The Prisoner to “Move Along Home.”
A product of the same era as the original Star Trek, the short-lived British drama The Prisoner was, in many ways, more in touch with the psychedelic spirit of the age. Now considered a cult classic, this bizarre blend of spy thriller and existential science fiction remains as puzzling half a century on as when it was first broadcast. It has also been hugely influential, not least on Star Trek itself. One episode in particular, Deep Space Nine’s “Move Along Home,” took its inspiration from an iconic scene in “Checkmate,” an episode of The Prisoner in which a game of chess is played with living human pieces.
In this episode of Primitive Culture, host Duncan Barrett is joined by Tony Black to look back at the legacy of The Prisoner, comparing this iconic TV show to its contemporary—Star Trek: The Original Series—and asking why the writers of Deep Space Nine tried—and, arguably, failed—to capture the quintessential weirdness in their own, somewhat baffling, episode. We then consider the overall role of games in Star Trek storytelling, comparing the Wadi in “Move Along Home” to the Empire of Azad in Iain M. Banks 1988 novel The Player of Games, asking whether the way a character wins or loses can offer a window into their soul.
Briefed: The Prisoner (00:07:14)
Stamped: Kirk and Number 6 (00:16:00)
Numbered: Serialization and DS9 (00:23:00)
Filed: High or Low Stakes (00:36:45)
Indexed: Alien Games (00:45:00)
Pushed: Cheating (00:59:20)
Debriefed: Final Thoughts (01:11:00)
Tony Black (Editor) Duncan Barrett (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Amy Nelson (Associate Producer) Tony Black (Associate Producer) Clara Cook (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager)