Ah, indeed you're right, that is NOT the dread 'duplicate content' issue, but something else entirely.
And yes, if you name all your pages similarly, Google will drop them a little not because of duplication, but because of lack of uniqueness. I know that sounds like I'm splitting hairs, but so is Google.
So yes, if the CONTENT of page 3 is better, and page 3 gets more incoming links, yes, it will rank higher than page 1. Hiding the pages won't help, unless you want to manually toss in a 'noindex' to the pagination links, and perhaps force /page/# to be in your robots.txt
By the way, the /page/# is not the same as a subpage, furthering my confusion in what you meant :)
Pagination is a built in feature that, used by most people for category/tag/date listings of posts, rather than for individual pages, and use the /page/# format.
Subpages, on the other hand, are when you MANUALLY create a page /about/ and then a subpage /me/ to force the URL /about/me/
Similar, but different.