I guess this episode would be classified as a science fiction story but it’s so wacky that I don’t know how to call it that. Three astronauts are somehow lost in space. Their rocket is about to land on an asteroid (of course) that is something more than five hundred million miles from Earth. Now how you get lost in the solar system is sort of hard for me to understand but we’ll put that aside. When they get out on the asteroid it of course is exactly like Earth from our time. Just to fill in the back story this episode is taking place in 2186. Two hundred years earlier, the Earth was devastated by an atomic war and only recently had advanced back to the space age. So, this replica of Earth resembles the pre-war atomic war Earth. But all the people are lifeless. The are frozen in place going about life in various tableaux. There is a man running for mayor and a homely woman winning a beauty contest and an old man on a romantic date with a beautiful young woman. But no one is alive.
Finally, a living man named Wickwire shows up. He tells them that this is a mortuary. Rich people from 1985 paid to have their corpses preserved in the moment of some life long dream and maintained in that scene forever. He is the caretaker for the graveyard. While he is telling them, this story he offers them some wine and of course the wine is the embalming fluid that will prepare them to join the establishment. As they are dying, they ask him why he did it. He tells them that as caretaker his job is to make sure everything is peaceful and since they are men they must be killed because there can be no peace where men are. This must refer to the atomic war.
Before poisoning them, he asked them what their fondest wish was and they said being on their rocket headed back to Earth. So sure, enough after they die, he poses them in their ship as if they are in route to Earth.
Boy, Serling really likes to pound away at the atomic war thing. Humans make war, war bad, therefore humans bad. There’s really not much here. And what there is doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
One of the guys in the office is agitated. He thinks Trump has collapsed and the world is coming to an end. There are articles this guy read that say that Trump is caving on judicial appointments to some of the Circuit Courts. And also, he’s worried about the Wall not getting built.
So, what do I think about all this? My bottom line is Barr must get approved soon. I saw that Graham gave the Dems an extra week before the committee vote takes place. I read that this timing will give Mueller the opportunity to damage the President during some announcement he is working on. Fine, Graham is useless, I know that. My read on this is that Barr should be approved by February 15th. If by March he isn’t approved then I’ll start to think that Trump is trapped. Getting control of the Justice Department is the most important objective Trump needs to get done right now. If he lets that slide then there is little hope of reining in the Deep State that is running amok arresting his friends and associates at will. So that is what I tell those panicking. If we reach March and Barr isn’t Attorney General then I’ll admit Trump has been boxed in and won’t be able to clean out the Justice Department.
But getting agitated does nothing. Start taking concrete steps in your own life to protect yourself and your family from the terrible people and things that are going on all around you. Form alliances and relationships with people who have shown themselves to be reliable and you can trust. Support people who are brave enough to identify themselves as supporting the truth about what’s going on. Ignore the liars and cowards of the establishment republican slate. Don’t support them and don’t give them a penny. If the Democrats take the Presidency then we are the real resistance. They will dismantle this country. They showed us that under Obama. Then we have to decide how we respond to that. Make a stand or leave or become slaves. Those seem to be the choices.
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+.
“Extreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business, frustrated minorities and forgotten Americans are not the products of free enterprise. They are the residue of centralized bureaucracy, of government by a self-anointed elite.”
In this episode a British WWI fighter pilot lands at an American Air Force base in France. Only instead of it being 1917 it’s 1959. Flight Lt. Decker is of course immediately detained by the base military personnel and questioned. Major Wilson and General Harper interrogate Decker and he tells them this story. He was on a mission over France with his fellow pilot Alexander Mackaye when they were attacked by seven German planes. Decker escaped into a cloud and he assumed that Mackaye was shot down by the Germans. The two American officers completely disbelieve his story. They tell him not only is his story completely impossible but Alexander Mackaye not only hadn’t been killed in WW I but was in fact an Air Vice Marshall of the Royal Air Force and further was expected to arrive at that very base on that same day for a visit.
Decker is placed in a guarded room and visited by Major Wilson who wants to understand what exactly is going on. Meanwhile Decker is forming a new opinion as to what actually happened to him. He tells Wilson that he was a coward back in the war and that he had deserted Mackaye when the German planes had surrounded him. But hearing that Mackaye had survived and knowing that no one else could have saved him, Decker interpreted his own presence in the future as a second chance given to him to find the courage to save Mackaye. He reasons that hearing that Mackaye had been a great hero in the Second World War and having saved many men by his actions was meant to give Decker the reason and example he needed to redeem himself and save Mackaye.
Decker knocks out Wilson and when the guard hears the scuffle and opens the door Decker knocks him out too. He runs on the tarmac and finds his plane and overpowers another airman who tries to stop him. Finally, as he’s about to take off Major Wilson shows up and puts a pistol to his head and warns Decker to stop, he would shoot him. Decker says he’d rather die that way than live a coward. Wilson lets him go and Decker flies out of sight.
General Harper berates Major Wilson for his action in letting Decker escape but the reprimand is interrupted by the arrival of Air Vice Marshal Alexander Mackaye. When questioned by the Americans he states that Decker saved his life. He states that although initially it seemed Decker had fled the attack into a cloud later, he reappeared and managed to shoot down three German planes before he himself was shot down. They asked if his effects had been recovered and Mackaye replied in the negative. Upon showing Mackaye the effects that had been confiscated from Decker earlier in the day, including a photo identification card he confirmed that they were authentic.
Inexplicable time travel is a very regular feature of the Twilight Zone episodes. In fact, most of the time there isn’t any rationale for it at all. In this case it appears to be divine intervention to allow Lt. Decker the grace to summon up his courage. As fantasy it’s rather an overused device and not particularly original. But I actually enjoyed the story a great deal. It appeals to my sense of what I would like the universe to be, a place where our better angels have a say in things. Call me a rank sentimentalist if you like, I give it a B.