The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 27 – Person or Persons Unknown

Richard Long plays David Gurney a married man waking up with a hangover after a very late night out with his wife Wilma.  As he staggers around his bedroom trying to shake off his hangover he berates his sleeping wife for not even removing his shoes before letting him fall asleep the night before.  Getting ready for work, he is sore at his wife because she can sleep late so he slaps her on the butt to wake her up.  She wakes up but then becomes noticeably upset claiming Gurney is a stranger to her and threatening to call the police if he doesn’t leave her bedroom immediately.  David decides it’s some sort of joke cooked up between his wife and one of his friends at work.  After a few sarcastic words with Wilma he heads out of the house and drives to his job at the bank in his car.

When he gets to work nobody greets him and everyone acts as if they don’t know him.  When he sees someone sitting at his desk he gets angry and tells the occupant to leave.  The bank guard comes over and Gurney gets into an altercation with him.  The guard pulls his gun out and forces David out onto the sidewalk.  There waiting for them are a few policemen and Wilma.  David attempts to convince them that he is who he claims to be but they arrest him and take him in the patrol car.

In the next scene David is in the office of a psychiatrist who tries to convince him that he has built up an imaginary persona under the influence of a mental illness. To convince David of this the psychiatrist calls up the telephone numbers of the friends and family who David says will know him.  All of them, including his mother deny the very existence of David Gurney.  Desperate to prove his existence David dives through the office window and escapes in a stolen truck.  Going to his favorite bar he tries to get his friend the bartender to recognize him but with no success.  Finally, he goes to a photographer’s store and asks for the photos that he had taken with Wilma.  Looking in the envelope he sees a photograph of himself with his arm around Wilma.  Just as he’s leaving the store, the police and the psychiatrist intercept him.  David triumphantly tells the psychiatrist that he’s found proof of his own existence but when the psychiatrist looks in the envelope the picture only contains David.  Now David breaks down and starts wailing that he does exist.

The scene shifts to David back in his bedroom crying out in his sleep.  Wilma wakes up and tries to reassure him that he’s only having a bad dream.  David is overjoyed to wake from the bad dream to find that his wife knows him.  He wants to kiss her but she tells him to wait until she takes off her cold cream and her hair turban.  But when she returns from the bathroom Wilma is now a blonde instead of a brunette and even though she knows David he is seeing a woman different from the wife he married.  Dant, dant, Dahhhh!

To start off I’d like to express the opinion that Wilma #2 is significantly better looking than Wilma #1 so all things considered this hardly seems like a nightmare ending he’s left in.  Secondly this episode is a “man screaming at his surroundings” episode which I have often condemned on aesthetic grounds.  But I must confess that a number of details in the episode amused me.  First off, I found his hectoring of his sleeping wife and then slapping her on the butt very naturalistic. I always enjoy the portrayal of the war between the sexes as long as the playing field isn’t tilted against the husband as it so often is.  Secondly Richard Long is a decent actor and he made the character personable and sympathetic.  And finally, the psychiatrist was not as ingratiating and condescending as so many characters in that persona typically are portrayed.  Let’s give it a B-.

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