The Lonely is a science fiction short story about being human. I take a few points off because of the silliness of the set-up. James Corry is a convicted killer who’s been sentenced to a fifty-year prison sentence but the “prison” is an asteroid nine million miles from Earth. Let’s forget about the inaccuracies of where and how but let’s look at the silliness of the logistics of this prison. Four times a year a ship has to come from Earth and drop off supplies to all of the asteroid prisons in use. So apparently there are enough asteroids to keep each prisoner in solitary confinement. Next, according to the supply ship personnel, they have to spend eight months out of every year performing their supply circuit. So in effect, they too are virtual prisoners of their jobs. The whole things is completely absurd and pointless since a prison on Earth would be infinitely cheaper, easier and equally effective. Okay, rant off.
Corry is in year four of his sentence when a sympathetic supply ship captain, Allenby brings him a present. Believing Corry to be an innocent man and knowing that Corry is close to despair, he gives him a crate that he tells him to open after the ship leaves because it is contraband which the Captain would be punished for giving to Corry.
Corry opens up the crate and finds a robot that looks and acts like a living woman. Alicia, as she calls herself, tries to befriend Corry but at first he rejects her because he feels she is a mockery of life and worse than being alone. But when he treats her roughly she feels pain and her tears touch his heart and he grows to accept her as a human and love her as a real woman. The scene of the two of them sitting out in the desert night while he points out the familiar constellations is very touching.
Then Allenby’s ship returns unexpectedly with the best news he could possibly hope for. Corry has been pardoned and can now return to Earth immediately. In fact he has only minutes to leave and can only bring fifteen pounds of belongings. He is overjoyed and states that he doesn’t have fifteen pounds of possessions, just a notebook and a pencil. He tells Allenby that he’ll call Alicia and they can go right away.
But Allenby breaks the news to him that Alicia cannot come. There is no allowance for her weight and she is a criminal possession anyway. Corry becomes agitated and angry and tells Allenby and his men that Alicia is a real woman and she must go along with them. Allenby realizes the harm he has caused by his gift to Corry but sees the only possible resolution to the dilemma. He shoots Alicia in the face and thereby destroys her. Corry goes into a shocked silence seeing the mechanical components behind her face and Allenby assures him that leaving the asteroid will mean waking up from a nightmare and the only thing he’ll be leaving behind is loneliness. To which Corry mechanically replies, “I must remember that, I must remember to keep that in mind,” as he’s lead back to the relief ship.
Jack Warden who played Corry was a pretty familiar face to television viewers of the era. He seemed to play a lot of cops from what I remember of him. He does a good job playing the part. Allenby is played by John Dehner who is not as well known but played in several Twilight Zone episodes and is actually one of my favorites for western sheriffs and space ship captains. He also did a good job.
I like this episode. It’s far-fetched and a little bit contrived but fits my tastes for a half-hour drama. It gets a B.