McGoohan is a new prison warder in Dublin. He's a firm believer in capital punishment, whereas the senior warder, Macken, thinks that the death penalty solves nothing. Two "quares" (slang for condemned prisoners) are on death row. One hangs himself, though he was offered a reprieve.
McGoohan visits the other man's wife, Syms, and a mutual attraction leads to an affair. She tells the warder that her husband killed his own brother when he found the two of them in bed. He hadn't told this at his trial, and McGoohan persuades her to tell prison governor O'Flynn. She does, but
there is no reprieve. McGoohan is forced to help in the hanging, his opinion about the death p...