The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 16 – The Hitch-Hiker

Inger Stevens plays a young woman named Nan Adams who is driving across country from New York City to Los Angeles.  When we meet her, she is in rural Pennsylvania waiting while a mechanic changes out a tire that blew out while she was driving.  He tells her how very lucky she was not to have been killed by the high speed blow out on that stretch of road.  As she is leaving the area, she notices a hitchhiker looking at her.  Later on, that day she happens to catch sight of this same tramp hitching at the side of the road.  After several more days and numerous more sightings of this man she became terrified by his continuing ability to stay ahead of her on the road.  Finally, in panic, she attempts to cross a railroad crossing and is almost hit by the train.  Now she is sure the tramp is trying to get her killed.  Later she convinces a sailor to ride with her to California and while driving she sees the hitchhiker and tries to run him over.  This panics the sailor and he leaves Nan.

Completely demoralized, Nan stops at a phone to call her mother back in New York City.  She reaches the number but is told by someone she doesn’t know that her mother has had a nervous breakdown after the death of her daughter Nan in an automobile accident in Pennsylvania several days before.

Now she knows that the hitchhiker is death waiting for her to realize that she is already dead.  And just as she gets back in her car, she sees the tramp in her rear-view mirror and he says “I believe you’re going my way?”

The Twilight Zone specialized in stories about people who were misinformed about themselves.  Sometimes they didn’t know they were manikins or robots or dead or on Earth instead of an asteroid.  But you can always see it coming a mile away.  Since this is the first “didn’t know I was dead” episode I’ll take only half a grade off and give it a B- (plus Inger Stevens was a very pretty girl which counts for something with me).