Number 6 was a Plant: A Change of Mind and Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling
The introduction to this series of posts considering the theory that Number 6 didn't really resign and is a 'plant' in the Village may be read here: https://culttvblog.substack.com/p/number-6-was-a-plant-introduction
Content warning: lobotomy, plot spoilers
A Change of Mind
There is a difficulty with A Change of Mind and the theory that Number 6 is a plant, which I have managed to condense down to one issue in the episode. I actually think that probably the best and most fitting way to understand this episode is as an allegory for societal/psychiatric control in which people are easily coerced to believe things that are not true and go along with the group, even if the group is committing atrocities.
The problem though, is that the apparent psychosurgery performed on Number 6 isn't real, yet he afterwards behaves as if he has actually been lobotomised. You could, of course, say that his behaviour is a performance for the Village authorities, however when he is attacked for the second time by the thugs at his exercise place he visibly has difficulty fighting back at first. It is as if he himself feels the effect of the lobotomy which hasn't taken place. This is difficult to square with the idea of him being a plant, because surely the point of a plant is that he is primarily there to observe, not get drawn into the things he is observing.
If he was intended to be a plant, observing the Village, it would have been far better if he had observed the lobotomy carried out on someone else and then discovered that it was fake. If you really want to, you could say that his time in the Village has begun to erode his sense of self to the extent that he has actually begun to give in to the social conditioning, but that seems to take up back to the theme of social conditioning, rather than him being a spy in the Village.
I think generally the ideas of social pressure and group behaviour are better ways to understand this episode but you could still read other parts as Number 6 being a plant in the Village, particularly at the end when he turns round the ostracisation process and turns the Villagers against Number 2. This would be very much in line with him taking notes about what is happening and, since nobody is going to back him up, taking the only action he can as the only sensible person there.
Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling
This is an episode which is just impossible to fit with the idea that Number 6 is a plant in the Village for the obvious reason that it mostly doesn't take place in the Village and he doesn't try to escape or whistle blow while he is on his travels, which would surely be the behaviour we would expect. I think probably the best way to view this episode is as science fiction - and I've got it on the back burner to go through the series again purely considering it as science fiction.
This episode does, however, serve a useful function in undermining the plant theory because this is said to have been planned as the first episode of the proposed second series which was never made and a compromise reached at seventeen episodes. Apparently the idea was that the Village's interest would have been exhausted by the end of the end of the first series and the second would have seen Number 6 in other settings, apparently as a sort of spy *for* the Village. Had the show taken this route it would either have meant he couldn't have been a plant at all or had uncharacteristically sold out.
I would conclude that these two episodes are not best fitted to the idea that Number 6 is a plant, and while parts of A Change of Mind can certainly be seen that way, I think the episode is best understood as referring to societal pressure and groupthink. I think that Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling is best understood as science fiction.
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