The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 4 Episode 6 – Death Ship

Three astronauts are aboard the, by now familiar, Forbidden Planet flying saucer set that is bringing them to explore and evaluate a new planet that Earth hopes to colonize.  Lieutenants Ted Mason and Mike Carter along with Captain Paul Ross (played by Jack Klugman) are scanning the planet’s surface to identify a good landing site to begin their work.  But they see a shiny object and land to investigate.  It turns out to be a crashed flying saucer.  They go to investigate and discover what appear to be their own three bodies lying dead in the wreckage of their own ship.  Mason and Carter now start to hallucinate that they’ve gone back to Earth.  Carter imagines that he visits his home and sees a telegram with his death notice on it.  Mason meets his wife and daughter but when Ross finds him and forces him back he is reminded that his wife and daughter died in an automobile crash years ago.

Mason and Carter are now convinced that they’ve all died in a crash.  But Ross claims that aliens are causing them to hallucinate the crashed ship, the bodies and even the scenes on Earth.  Ross tells them that they must escape from the planet to escape the delusions.  But Mason and Carter are convinced that taking off will be the occasion for their ship to crash.  When they successfully take off everyone is overjoyed but when Ross says it’s now safe to return, Mason and Carter panic and attempt to stop him from landing.  In doing so they force the ship into a power dive from which they barely escape without crashing.  Once on the surface they see that the crashed ship is still there.  Now Mason and Carter are despondent and convinced that all of them are already dead.  But Ross refuses to believe he’s already dead and says they must go over the logic of what’s happening to them again.

In the final scene we return to the beginning when they see the shiny object from orbit as they approached the planet.  They are in an endless loop of denying their own deaths.

While some of the scenes between the men and their friends and family from Earth are affecting and the interactions between the captain and his crew are somewhat interesting and Jack Klugman is fun to listen to, the season four hour format finally draws out this premise too long.  It’s too thin a premise to keep it going that long.  C+