The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 4 Episode 2 – The Thirty-Fathom Grave

In 1963 a US Navy Destroyer is on routine naval maneuvers near Guadalcanal.  Sonar picks up a large metal object on the sea bottom about the size and shape of a submarine.  And their underwater microphone picks up a banging noise coming from the object.  Captain Beecham orders one of his divers, McClure, to go down and look at the object.  Meanwhile the ship’s Chief Petty Officer Bell starts acting strangely and is taken to the sick bay with something like a panic attack.

McClure confirms that it is a submarine and markings identify it as an American submarine that was sunk twenty years earlier by the Japanese in WWII.  And McClure also confirms that the banging noise is coming from the sub and seems to be someone inside trying to communicate with those outside.  Finally, he finds a set of dog tags on the hull and when he returns to the ship, they are found to be Chief Bell’s from his time as a crew member on the sunken submarine.

Captain Beecham questions Bell about the sinking of the sub and Bell relates a story about how as a signalman he was charged with replacing the infrared filter on a signal light and when he dropped the filter the unfiltered light of the signal gave away the submarine’s position to the surrounding Japanese naval forces that attacked and sank the sub.  He was washed off the sub during the attack and was later rescued by a passing American warship.

Now Chief Bell starts hallucinating that he sees his long dead shipmates gesturing to him to join them below.  Captain Beecham tries to convince him that he is suffering from survivor’s guilt and that he should calm himself and wait for the attack to pass.  But Bell works himself up into a frenzy and yelling that his crew is calling him to muster he jumps overboard and disappears under the surface never to be seen again.  And as Master Diver reminded me in the comments, the Corpsman found wet seaweed near the sickbay where Bell saw his dead shipmates.

A diving team is sent down into the submarine and McClure tells the captain that a metal shaft was swinging free inside the sub and could have been responsible for the banging.  But he also adds that one of the dead bodies was holding a hammer in its bony hand.

This is a straight up ghost story.  Chief Bell was a little too crazy for my taste but it wasn’t bad, just a little thin.  It’s right on the cusp of C+/B-.  Alright, for the Navy I’ll go B-.

2 thoughts on “The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 4 Episode 2 – The Thirty-Fathom Grave

  • June 11, 2019 at 7:18 am
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    One very good touch you failed to mention was that after runs out of sickbay to join his lost shipmates, the Corpsman finds strands of wet seaweed on the deck.

    Reply
    • June 11, 2019 at 7:32 am
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      Very good point, I should have added that (and now I have). And that’s why I think of it as a straight up ghost story and not a psychological drama.

      Reply

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