The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 19 – The Purple Testament

This is the second war themed episode in a row.  Lt. Fitzgerald commands a squad of American soldiers in the Philipines at the end of WW II.  But a bizarre situation has arisen when Fitzgerald looks at the men in his command he can see which men will die that day.  Their faces have an unnatural light on them with no physical source.  So far he has written down the names of four soldiers who die the next day after he identifies them.  He tells this to his CO, Captain Phil Riker, played by Dick York (of “Bewitched” fame).  Riker tells him he’s imagining things but it happens again while Fitzgerald is visiting an injured soldier in the infirmary.  Riker tells Fitzgerald that he’s going to have him sent back up the line for a rest but as he tells him Fitzgerald sees the shine on Riker’s face.  He tells Riker not to go to the front that day.  Riker tells him he doesn’t believe him but when he’s about to head out he takes off his wedding ring and leaves it and photos of his family behind in the tent.

Riker of course dies in the battle and as Fitzgerald prepares to be sent back to headquarters he sees his own reflection in a mirror and sees the familiar shine.  And when his driver for the ride shows up he also has the light.  A soldier tells them that the road they’re taking may have some landmines.  Just a few minutes later the squad hears an explosion and we assume it’s the jeep hit by a mine.

The concept is an interesting one and it has been done before and since.  And there are a few good moments, notably Dick York taking off his wedding ring before leaving for battle.  But dramatically it’s kind of flat.  I attribute this to a lack of interesting dialog.  It’s sort of paint by numbers.  I’ll give this a C+.

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Greg Tyson
Greg Tyson
1 year ago

I did think though Serling”s intro was a thing of beauty.

Greg Tyson
Greg Tyson
1 year ago
Reply to  photog

He might not have had a family. Or, maybe he feared by writing to loved ones he might pass his infliction on in some way or put them in the cross-hairs of Death since he and Death seem to be in league with one another. The idea of someone, through incessant exposure to Death, tapping into Death’s wavelength, is a sad and frightening notion. And I appreciate the fatalistic way Death is treated in this episode. There’s an episode in season two called “Back There” about a guy who tries to stop Lincoln’s assassination but can’t because, as he comes… Read more »

Greg Tyson
Greg Tyson
1 year ago
Reply to  photog

But, in touching and life-affirming episodes like “Changing of the Guard,” “A Passage for Trumpet,” and “Night of the Meek,” his Capra-esque episodes, if you will, he’s very much a champion of the little guy. I don’t think Serling put much trust in our self-anointed saviors … but he did suspect that if hope resided anywhere it resided with those society tends to overlook and underestimate.

War Pig
War Pig
1 year ago

You can see some very strange and inexplicable things in a combat zone. Most of my senior male relatives have seen strange things and so have I. Maybe it’s all the physical and psychic stress that causes a tear in space-time and it allows “leakage” between realms? Who knows?

I can relate a few if anyone wants.

War Pig
War Pig
1 year ago

I was point on patrol in Vietnam. Going quietly and as safely as possible. All of a sudden, my tribal spirit twin appeared before my eyes, in full ceremonial dress. She put her finger before her lips in the universal “hush” symbol, then pointed out a VERY cleverly concealed tripwire. She then vanished. Saved my life. When the patrol ended I wrote her and told her what happened, and described the dress down to a “T”. I may as well say that she is also an absolutely raving beauty. She had done the same thing and wrote me the day… Read more »

War Pig
War Pig
1 year ago

We were in our trench on the perimeter when we were mortared, then attacked. Charlie in the wire. Right in front of out trench was an observation tower/platform. It was put in after the trenches were dug or it would have been placed right behind us. It was a night attack and our guys were firing flares so we could see Charlie. The firefight was pretty lively when the tower was hit by a mortar round. The tower was about fifteen feet tall to the floor of the platform with one ladder up. We were directly behind the ladder. The… Read more »

War Pig
War Pig
1 year ago

Sure

TomD77
1 year ago

Things with no explanation that have happened to us: First, I’m ex-Marine, an engineer and definitely not into crystals, pyramids or mysticism. Vacation sometime in the early-1980’s. I lived in Atlanta and my wife and I were to meet two other couples for a week’s vacation in the 2nd home in Key Marathon of one of the other couples. On the way down, my wife and I stopped to visit one of the other couples at their home near West Palm. We stayed a couple of hours and left to go to the Key Marathon house where everyone was to… Read more »