With the entire original run of The Twilight Zone available to watch instantly, we’re partnering with Twitch Film to cover all of the show’s 156 episodes. Are you brave enough to watch them all with us?
The Twilight Zone (Episode #129): “Probe 7, Over and Out” (airdate 11/29/63)
The Plot: An astronaut slams his ship right into a planet, but there’s little chance for him to return home because a nuclear war is destroying everything and everyone he knows.
The Goods: Even with the casual gloss of the writing, there’s a deep question that’s been stabbed into the body of this story and remains there, untended to, even as it creates a great amount of aches and pains. That question is one of attempting to put yourself into the moon boots of Colonel Cook (Richard Baseheart) who isn’t just stranded on an alien world – he’s helplessly stranded.
He is literally millions of miles away while his world dies. How’s that for powerless?
What that means – what’s essentially unsaid in the tale – is that things were dangerous when Cook left, and sometime during the course of his journey, all hell broke loose in the form of nuclear warheads, making his goodbyes before launch the last he could ever make. It’s damned sorrowful when you think about it too long. Like a loved one who dies suddenly.
Fortunately, Cook can’t think about it too long, because he meets up with Norda (Antoinette Bower), a young woman who is in the exact same situation. They’ve both landed on a strange planet with atmospheric conditions like their home worlds (convenient!), and now they have to find land that’s more habitable.
From that point, it’s a relationship study in disparate people finding common ground in order to survive. The twist of it all? When the pair reach the lush greenery that lay beyond their view originally, he introduces himself as Col. Adam Cook, and she reveals her full name as Norda Eve as she hands him a delicious apple from a nearby tree.
The Shaggy God Story is almost a cliche at this point, but there’s something really fantastic about this particular episode. Like most episodes that don’t shove all their chips into the middle of the twist, the writing here from Rod Serling invests more in its characters and what they’re going through. It pays off extensively, and the ending just becomes the kind of wink that the show made a living off of.
Although I’ve never understood the sci-fi explanations for religious mythology about the beginnings of man. If Adam and Eve really were from advanced, war-torn societies, wouldn’t we have reached the Industrial Revolution quicker? Or maybe they did their best to create and procreate a society with the limited tools they had, but after they died, their legend grew to bizarre proportion until they became unreal figures in a magic book.
Come to think of it, this episode is pretty sacrilegious when you get down to it.
And the title makes a lot more sense.
What do you think?
The Trivia: Cook’s home planet is said to be 4.3 light years away from Earth, which means it’s most likely in the Alpha Centauri system. Or near Alderaan or something.
On the Next Episode: The Army National Guard suddenly finds itself fighting alongside Custer.
Catch-Up: Episodes covered by Twitch / Episodes covered by FSR
We’re running through all 156 of the original Twilight Zone episodes over the next several weeks, and we won’t be doing it alone! Our friends at Twitch will be entering the Zone as well on alternating weeks. So definitely tune in over at Twitch and feel free to also follow along on our Twitter accounts @twitchfilm and @rejectnation.