Night Gallery – Lone Survivor (S1E5)

The bridge crew of this White Star Line ship sees a small boat in the middle of the ocean with a single passenger.  I don’t know if the White Line caps were just an error, or if Serling was trying to lead viewers to believe this was the Titanic.

As they move closer, the Captain spots the name Titanic on the bow of the small boat, so the cap ruse wouldn’t have lasted long anyway.  The survivor, who the Captain thought to be a woman, is brought on board and taken to the infirmary.  It actually turns out to be a man who put on women’s clothing to escape the sinking ship.

Or . . . maybe it was a dude who thought, “Gee, I don’t know anyone on the ship, we’re 1,000 miles from land, my parents are dead, I’m alone in my cabin, and I like to wear women’s clothes.  So dammit, I’m putting on this dress and parading around my stateroom singing showtunes.”  Then, BAM!  They hit the iceberg and he is stuck in the dress until he is rescued.  Curse the luck!

Another officer comments that the boat was all barnacled up to the waterline as if it had been in the water for 3 years — the time since the Titanic sank.  The Captain’s theory is that this is some sort of wartime deception.  It’s only then that we learn this ship is the Lusitania.  Of course, if this were remade today, no one would have any idea what the Lusitania was, or what her fate was.

The survivor describes how he put on the dress, put a muffler over his face and knocked people aside to board a lifeboat with the women and children; completely foregoing the less embarrassing scenario I conjectured.  John Calicos chews the bulkheads describing the sound of the collision, the sinking, the tilted decks, the water rushing in, the screams.  In a nice touch, he is in the dress for the whole episode — however, to be fair, it is a simple, understated number.

He describes himself as a Flying Dutchman fated to be picked up by doomed ships.  He tells the doctor the Lusitania will be hit by a torpedo and sink in 18 minutes.

The doctor therefore concludes that the crew must all be phantoms just playing roles in the survivor’s never-ending damnation.  The Captain protests that he is not a ghost, but the Doctor and the rest of the crew disappear. Fittingly, the Captain disappears last; even fate adheres to maritime tradition.  The survivor runs on deck and sees a periscope.  Then a torpedo.

Image 002Another ship spots the survivor in a small boat with Lusitania painted on the bow.  A crewman helpfully turns to the camera sporting a cap that says Andrea Doria.  Again meaning nothing to most people today.

All of the casualties on the Andrea Doria were killed upon impact, and it took 11 hours to sink.  Passengers were soon rescued by lifeboat and helicopter.  If the survivor was in women’s clothing for that one, he’s got some explaining to do.


  • Twilight Zone Legacy:  Judgment Night, where a U-boat commander is doomed to experience the fate of his victims.
  • The survivor is played by John Colicos, the Baltar of the 1970’s Battlestar Gallactica.  However, he was known as Count Baltar, and did not have the ironic name Gaius.
  • Andrea Doria was a man, man!  The Italian Navy has commissioned 2 ships named Andrea Doria after the passenger liner sank in 1956.  Typical government thinking — I doubt you will see the Carnival Cruise Line christening a new Titanic.
  • There actually was one non-impact death, but it is too sad to mention in a cesspool like this.
  • The Andrea Doria sank off the coast of Nantucket.  Shockingly, no Kennedys were at fault.
  • That permanent cigarette holder in Serling’s teeth is getting on my nerves:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.