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 #66): “Two” (airdate 9/15/61)
The Plot: The only surviving male and female from opposing forces play a game of cat and also cat with each other in a deserted city.
The Goods: First of all, you may have noticed by the date that we’re writing about this episode almost exactly 50 years after it first aired. That the episode (let alone the series) is still so damned engaging is a testament to fresh, universal writing that is (at its best) reduced down into some individualistic character or situation.
Fortunately this episode, the first of season 3, features both. However, the situation isn’t unique (not even to the series). Serling mirrors the series’ first episode but instead of one man alone in a city without people, it’s a man and woman finding themselves without the aid of other human life.
And this time, they know what’s caused everyone’s early departure from the planet. War. Lots of it. Serling’s introduction here is as stark as ever, claiming that the time and place are in the future, or the past or happening right now. This is the reality of battle and devastation left naked on the screen for you to take in. The characters are just symbols. The sign posts are in our language so that we can understand them, but they’re also written in every language all at once. War may not be the answer, but everyone walking the soil can sure as hell recognize it.
Of course, it was 1961 when this first hit television screens, so Serling can’t resist a little Cold War commentary. The Man (played all in the eyebrows by Charles Bronson) and The Woman (played with sterile, silent resolve by Elizabeth Montgomery) fight between bouts of The Man explaining calmly that there are no more armies, no more sides, and no more things to fight about. The one word The Woman speaks, of course, is in Russian. Still, it might be the most subtle example of Serling’s views distilled through the lens of the show.
What’s more notable about the story is that there are zero sci-fi or supernatural elements to it. It’s a man and a woman, taking each other cautiously on the streets where we used to live. A mad scientist with a time machine never shows up. The moment doesn’t fade out to reveal it’s taking place inside the mind of an alien in a coma. It’s just these two people, learning to hold hands after holding up arms.
What do you think of the episode?
The Trivia: Besides directing 5 episodes and writing 3, Montgomery Pittman also acted in the original version of G.I. Jane. Plus, for Bronson fans, there’s always this:
On the Next Episode: A plane touches down at an airport. Without pilots. Or passengers. Or baggage.
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.