The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 24 – The Rip Van Winkle Caper

The scene opens with four men and an eighteen-wheeler out in the desert near some hills.  We are told it’s Death Valley California and they’ve just robbed a train that was carrying gold bullion from Fort Knox.  The leader is a scientist named Farwell who used gas to render the train crew unconscious.  His assistant Erbie is an engineer who helped build the equipment and Brooks and DeCruz are criminals who provide the muscle and the nerve for the crime.

The men unload the gold into a hidden cave and get rid of the big truck and stash a smaller truck in the cave.  Now we learn the reason why this is a Twilight Zone story.  Falwell has perfected a gas that renders its users asleep in a state of suspended animation.  Erbie has built four glass boxes that will retain the gas for one hundred years while the gang outlive the arrest warrants for them and makes the gold, they stole much more valuable.

DeCruz is unwilling to be treated with the gas but Brooks, who doesn’t like him at all, threatens him at knife point.  Farwell has the boxes (or as they appear coffins) wired for sound and he walks the others through the steps to accomplish the plan.  The boxes fill with gas and the scene fades out.

In the next scene they wake up and seem a little dazed.  DeCruz complains that they look exactly alike, their hair and fingernails haven’t grown at all.  So, he concludes that it must be just a few hours later.  But then they find that Erbie’s box contains a skeleton.  A rock had shattered the glass top after falling from the roof of the cave.  The condition of Erbie’s body proves that an enormous amount of time has passed.  The plan worked and it’s a hundred years in the future.

Their plan is to take the truck to the nearest town and figure out the best way to cash in their gold.  Immediately Brooks and DeCruz start arguing about who will drive and who will sit in the back with the gold.  Once again Brooks uses his knife to win the argument.  But when Brooks goes down the road a little to look at a barrel of water, they will take with them, DeCruz runs him over with the truck.  But as DeCruz attempts to brake the truck after the killing he finds that the brakes won’t work.  He jumps out of the truck just as it hurtles down a cliff.

Now the gang is down to Farwell and DeCruz and they will have to walk thirty miles to the nearest town through the searing heat of Death Valley lugging as much of the valuable but incredibly heavy gold bars as they can carry.  Farwell is old and very out of shape.  After a while they stop to rest and Farwell discovers he has dropped his canteen somewhere.  He begs DeCruz for water and laughingly DeCruz agrees.  But the deal is one drink of water for one bar of gold.  As the day progresses much of Farwell’s gold ends up with DeCruz.  Finally, DeCruz ups the ante and changes the equation to two bars per swallow.  While DeCruz is stowing his new gold, Farwell takes one of his last bars and knocks DeCruz down and kills him with the heavy weight.

Now Farwell takes as much gold as he can carry and walks on.  Eventually he collapses from heat stroke.  A futuristic car with a man and a woman inside finds Farwell and the man goes over to try and help.  Farwell is on the point of death but he tries to use the gold as a means of getting the man to give him some water and take him to a hospital.  But before anything can be done Farwell expires.

The man goes back to the car and tells his wife what happened.  He is confused how the man ended up in the desert but he wonders why the man would think gold would be a convincing incentive to get help.  She asks, “Wasn’t it used as money back a hundred years ago?“  He replies, “Yes, but then we figured out how to manufacture it.”  And he throws the bar over by Farwell.

To my way of thinking, this is a terrible episode.  None of the characters are likable, not even the couple who find them at the end.  The surprise ending is not that surprising.  And who except for a complete psychopath would be willing to give up everything he values for some money?  Meh.  D

3 thoughts on “The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 24 – The Rip Van Winkle Caper

  • March 14, 2019 at 9:26 am
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    The hundred year sleep is what always bothered me.
    Even as a kid I knew about the statute of limitations of 7 years for a crime that didn’t involve murder.
    They just needed to sleep for a decade, not 100 years.

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  • March 14, 2019 at 11:58 am
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    But in a hundred years they’d be totally forgotten. Not in seven. Ho long has it been since DB Cooper? He’s still infamous after 47 years, since it is barely possible he still lives after surviving the parachute drop. In another 53? Mostly forgotten except for Amelia Earhart type documentaries.

    Speculation will be that the gold was spirited out of the country to Asia or the Middle East or even taken by the government in a ruse; but except for a few treasure hunters, it will be forgotten by 99% of the population once it is out of living memory. There won’t even be a cold case file open anywhere. After 100 years there will be few people alive who were alive when it happened, and they were all infants at the time.

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  • March 14, 2019 at 7:15 pm
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    My thought is if I could invent a suspended animation treatment, I’d sell it to people who need to wait for a cure to some fatal disease or someone who is waiting for an organ transplant. I bet I could make a lot more money than just the gold I could haul in a panel truck. Heinlein forsaw that one.

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