Gunslinger Sam Dichter comes a-riding into town. He stops for a moment to check out a man who has been hanged from a tree that overhangs the road. He could have stolen the corpse’s spurs, or maybe his fine pin-striped gray coat, but he already has one like it. The exact same ensemble — awkward!
He hitches his horse outside the local saloon, enters and orders a whisky. I’ve always wondered about that. When cowboys came in off the dusty trail, is whiskey really the first thing they order? Seems like just water would be a good start, then maybe some lemonade. Which is why I would have been beaten to a pulp in 19th century saloons . . . a fabulous citrussy pulp.
He sarcastically asks the bartender if the place is always this busy. Seeing as there is only one table, and it is filled with four guys playing cards, this is really an overflow SRO crowd for this establishment.
He walks to the table and is quite happy with himself that the men recognize him as Dichter, a gunslinger with “lightning draw and deadly devilish aim.” Maybe he recognized the card players also — there was Jed Clampett, Jock Ewing, former Tarzan Lex Barker, and Danny Noonan’s father.
When the clock strikes 9 pm, Tarzan reluctantly stands up from the table. Dichter recognizes him as a fellow gunslinger. He walks out of the saloon and seconds later a gunshot is heard. The men at the table say they know what happened — Tarzan got his head blown off just as Dichter had heard that he died years earlier.
He sits down to play the dead man’s hand. Soon he recognizes Mr. Noonan as another gunslinger he saw killed at high noon in Monterey. Dichter decides these strange events are the result of “fever crawling into my mind”. Because drinking straight whisky after a long ride could have nothing to do with it. I begged him, have the lemonade.
Just as Dichter and Mr. Noonan are about to draw on each other, the clock chimes at 10 pm. Noonan knows the bell tolls for he, so he is next to walk out of the saloon. A few seconds later there is the sound of another gunshot.
Very soon, the clock chimes at 11 pm. I can see why people come to this joint — time really flies here. This time it is Jock the bank-robber’s time to step outside. He tells Dichter where he is going and how is is going to die. Another gunshot.
Jed tells Dichter that he wasn’t a criminal, but a doctor. He patched up the bad guys so they could go on stealing and killing. I’m sure it would horrify most actors now, but he makes a pretty good case for the death penalty, and against leftie criminal-lovers.
The clock strikes midnight — which I really expected Serling to save for Dichter — and it is Jed’s turn to walk out the door. Years ago, in despair over the lives he had enabled to be taken, he killed himself. Exit exit. Bang bang.
Dichter — no steam engine scientist — still hasn’t quite cracked the code. He demands the bartender tell him what this place is. The bartender tells him it is a waiting room where people await their ordained fate — Hell.
The clock strikes 1 AM and it is last call for Dichter. He exits and is back where the segment started. This time, he when he stops at the hanging man, he reaches up and takes the sack off the dead head and sees his own face.
Terrified, he runs to the saloon where the quartet are playing cards again and the bartender already has a whiskey waiting for him. The last minute of the episode has no dialogue. In slow motion, the clock chimes 9 pm again, Mr. Noonan knows it is his time, and they all stare at the clock (whose second hand is the only thing not in slow motion). Very effective.
Nothing startlingly original here, basically one set (although they did spring for a horse), yet it is one of my favorites so far. I’m always a sucker for a Hell / Purgatory story. And the veteran cast was perfectly . . . er, cast. Most of the heavy lifting, though, is done by Steve Forrest as Dichter. His cockiness, lack of understanding and fear are well-conveyed.
- Twilight Zone Legacy: Albert Salmi was in three episodes, Steve Forrest and Buddy Ebsen in one each.
- Buddy Ebsen is playing Doc Soames. It was also a Doc Soames that patched Nick Andros up in The Stand.
- This was Lex Barker’s last IMDb credit.
Bartender Mike wisely suggests he might want a cup of coffee, but McKenzie calls him a “drink-pusher working in a skid-row gin-joint.” A woman walks in, he buys her a drink, not sure if she’s a hooker or not. They go back to his place, she spends the night, he spends no money, so I guess she isn’t a hooker.
The next morning he goes to see his old editor to beg for a job. The editor tells him to bring him a murder story. This being TFTC, you kind of know where this is going to go.
Every lead he pursues turns into a dead end; but not the good kind. Trying to lay off the booze, he goes to a diner. The owner strangles his wife while McKenzie is there, so he has his murder — he’s back in the business! When he checks the body, it is the woman he spent the night with. Even worse, she is still alive.
Really about as dull and predictable as this post.
- Title Analysis: Nice title, relevant to the plot. Too bad it was wasted on such a blah episode.
Sgt Linden Styles (Clancy Brown) is wheeled in on a gurney. Oh, thank God, he’s going to get some much needed medical care! Oh wait, there’s a priest and guards, he’s going to be executed for murder. Happy ending either way.
He assures the priest his soul is safe because he is innocent of the murders he was charged with. The doctor gives him a lethal injection, and at 12:11 pronounces him dead. But only mostly dead — even before the credits, he wakes up. A government agent offers him a choice — try a new experimental procedure vital to national security, or get injected with the real juice.
The agent upgrades the security clearance of Style’s doctor, Kersaw. He then shows her the remains of an alien captured a year ago and stored in a . . . hey that’s the same exact yellow cryo unit as was used last week in The Heist. I understand re-using props, but let’s space it out, people! She is ordered to merge the alien DNA with that of Styles.
The next morning, Kersaw begins giving Styles a series of injections. They are to be so painful that he is strapped down. Soon he begins growing scaly and scabrous. This guy was treated better by the Dharma Initiative.
As he further transforms into an alien, he uses his increased strength to escape from the facility where he was being held. Little does he know that this was part of the plan — a test to see if the military can capture such an alien.
After they disappear, taking Styles with them, Kersaw tells the agent that just as the Army was testing Styles — the aliens were testing the humans. They made the alien bodies available to see what humans would do with them.
A good episode with great performances by Clancy Brown and Alan Rachins as the agent. Unfortunately, Dr. Kersaw was a little weak — her lapel-grabbing revelation at the end is fairly laughable. And the general was grossly miscast.
- Might as well get some use out of these Canadian discs. French title: Injection Fatale.
- Clancy Brown was in the Dharma Initiative and Alan Rachins was in Dharma and Greg. Coincidence?
An earth spaceship looking suspiciously like a US space shuttle is approaching an unexplored planet. Chatterton, a mineralogist, works for a company that strips virgin planets of their natural resources. The rest of the crew is there to operate the ship. Their uniform patches indicate that, like the crew in Mars is Heaven, they work for ASA, not NASA.
Driscoll, an archaeologist, makes the absurd statement that all planets from 10 miles up look pretty much the same. What percentage of planets have life on them to justify an archeologist being one of a six person crew, anyway? They seem to land like the shuttle despite the presence of trees and rolling hills. In fact, the planet really looks like a golf course. One of the crew even makes the same observation.
Driscoll starts talking about wishing to fly when he was a kid, and suddenly he is airborne, swooping around like a kite. This miracle does not impress Chatterton who wants to get along with his work. He continues being a jerk, so Driscoll wishes him into the air for the same experience.
Further exploring, after someone mentions a bottle of wine, they discover a stream in which wine is flowing. That’s nice and convenient, but I have to think it makes the old problem of bits of cork in the wine bottle seem positively quaint. Driscoll wishes for fish to go with it and a few yards away there is a hot spring which has cooked a fish for him. So it is clear this planet is, or has, a sentience that is making wishes come true — an idea it seems like every iteration of Star Trek has run with.
Chatterton wanders away from the group and gets his giant drill from the ship. He might be a jerk, but he’s the only one in this group with a work ethic. The others leave their wine, fish and grapes and find him starting to burrow into the ground with a giant spiraled drill. The drill even makes a thrusting motion just in case we miss the rape metaphor. Then lightning strikes the drill.
Chatterton runs off saying he is going to destroy the planet. But he is eaten by an unseen (i.e. unbudgeted) predator before he can do any harm.
Driscoll tries to talk the others into staying on the planet, but they’ve been in space for years — they want to go back to earth. Driscoll stays behind and watches the ship take off. From their perspective, the planet is a hellish place of exploding volcanoes and flowing lava. To Driscoll, it still looks like Bushwood Country Club. The planet is putting on a show so it will be categorized as hostile and never revisited.
Driscoll looks into the stream and sees the reflection of a beautiful blonde. The first of several, I imagine.
- Stephen King has a short story by the same title.
- Just as in The Long Years, there is a female astronaut who has no lines.
- According to IMDb, it was rejected by The Twilight Zone as too expensive to produce.