James A. Corry – Jack Warden
Alicia – Jean Marsh
Captain Allenby – John Dehner
Adams – Ted Knight
Carstairs – James Turley
Narrator – Rod Serling
Highlight to see Trigger Warning: A very human looking robot gets shot in the face. End Spoiler
Witness if you will, a dungeon. Made out of mountains, salt flats and sands that stretch to infinity.The dungeon has an inmate.
James A. Corry and this is his residence. Metal shack. An old touring car that squats in the sun and goes nowhere, for there is nowhere to go. For the record let it be known that James A. Corry is a convicted criminal, placed in solitary confinement. Confinement, in this case, stretches as far as the eye can see. Because this particular dungeon is on an asteroid nine million miles from earth. Now, witness if you will a man’s mind and body shriveling in the sun. A man dying of loneliness.
Corry is writing in his diary, letting us know he’s been here for four years, six months and fifteen days. Everyday is pretty much the same. There’s also a supply ship due soon. James hopes that it’s Allenby’s ship because Allenby’s a good guy and brings him special treats. I may be paraphrasing a bit.
Like the car Corry was sitting in. Allenby brought him the parts for it and it gave Corry something to do for a year. He feels like reality may be slipping away from him. Since I don’t know his crime yet I’ll reserve my sympathy for now. For someone who’s a people person that would suck having that much alone time. For others it’d be paradise. I’d need books though. Lots and lots of books.
A rocket ship comes down, waking Corry from what looks like a very sweaty sleep. Ew. Corry is thrilled and happier than hell that Allenby’s there. They both have a little whine-fest about how rough it is on both of them. Corry because he’s stuck there, Allenby because he has to come back there four times a year so he’s hardly ever home. Sounds like you need a new job, dude.
Allenby tells Corry that he can only stay over for 15 minutes this time. Corry is really bummed. He wanted to play some cards or chess or something. If they stay any longer it’ll throw off their orbit or something equally science-y sounding. It would be 14 days before they could leave again. Corry’s saved some beers for the occasion even. Wow, they do treat their prisoners well. I get the feeling Corry would tie them to chairs to make them stay if he could.
The supplies consist of four smallish boxes. That doesn’t seem like enough supplies for four months at a time. You’d think they’d give him stuff so he could be self-sufficient. It would save on rocket trips. Corry’s saying they still have 13 minutes, enough for a game of cards, or chess. Adams brings up the fact that they’ve been there two whole minutes and Corry hasn’t asked about getting a pardon. Corry asks how about it. Eager beaver Adams just can’t wait to tell him that 50 years is what Corry was sentenced so 50 years is what he’s getting. The parole board isn’t even considering homicide cases. So, he’s obviously committed murder but since this is the Twilight Zone and we’re supposed to like Corry (or at least somewhat sympathize with him) I’m going to guess that it was self-defense or something.
Allenby looks like he feels pretty bad about it. He mentions that there’s been people on earth protesting this type of punishment as cruel and unusual. Again, that’s more in the eye of the beholder to me. It certainly seems like an expensive method of imprisonment. Figuring there are other Corry’s (and knowing how people are there are probably thousands of homicide prisoners) and if people are getting this sentence for lighter offenses, that’s a lot of planets to visit. Lots of rocket fuel, supplies and whatnot. It just doesn’t seem economically feasible.
Allenby holds out the hope that they may change the law in a few years. Corry starts freaking out about years and starts a lovely soliloquy on being lonely and feeling like he’s going crazy. The other two guards look like they couldn’t care less. Even Allenby in the background looks bored stiff.
Corry says he can’t take another 46 years of that and one of the guards says you’re breaking my heart. Got it. These are the Mean Guards. Allenby tells Adams and Carstairs to go get the supplies. They whine a bit saying that Corry can do it. Which, to be fair, is true and would give him something to do. I have the feeling that Allenby just wants them gone.
Allenby brought Corry some books (see, he is a good guy!) and something else. Something secret that could cost him his job if anyone found out. Something secret that’s in a big ass box. So I’m wondering about the logistics of him getting this ‘surprise’ on board without anyone noticing. You would think that prison planet supply ships are inspected. Ok, maybe he slipped it on after. But he also has two guys with him who don’t seem to like the prisoners (or Allenby) all that much. Wouldn’t they say “Gee, I wonder what was in that big ass box we dropped off at Corry’s planet”? I’m probably overthinking it. Corrry’s kind of a dick about it. “I don’t want presents. I want a pardon”. Well dipstick, Allenby can’t give you a pardon so deal with it. He’s a bit ticked because he killed in self-defense so he doesn’t think he belongs there. Allenby knows all about it and believes him. Problem is there’s jack-all that Allenby can do about it. It’s not an easy job for him, either. Corry really doesn’t care that Allenby’s got it rough.
Allenby gives him a spiel that he doesn’t need to do anything, just open the box and whatever it is will be activated by the air. Hmmm. Wonder what it could be? Corry sulks through the speech
Finally, just as Allenby’s leaving, Corry tells him that he doesn’t really care what’s in the box but thanks him for the decency and kindness. How awfully big of you Corry.
As soon as they’re out of sight Corry gets to opening it. We don’t get to see what it is yet. Just Corry’s stunned face face from the point of view of the box.
Back at the ship Adams wants to know what was in the box. Allenby says he doesn’t know “maybe just an illusion, maybe salvation.”
Corry’s looking at an instruction sheet that declares he’s “now the proud possessor of a robit built in the form of a woman, for all intent and purpose this creature is a woman. Physiologically and psychologically, she is a human being. with a set of emotions and a memory track. The ability to reason, think and speak. She is beyond illness and under normal circumstances she’ll have a lifespan similar to that of a human being. Her name is Alicia.” Through the reading she stands there but on hearing her name she looks up. Some of you may recognize her as Queen Bavmorda on Willow. With eyebrows that could take over a world but a very pretty smile.
She announces that her name is Alicia and asks his name. He freaks out and tells her to get the hell out. What a jerk. He whines and whines about being lonely but doesn’t want her because she’s a robit? Any normal human being would be thrilled (especially if she’s “physiologically complete” if you know what I mean).
Cut to inside his shack and ah, she’s doing what any good woman/robit does. She’s bringing him a cup of water from the fridge. He doesn’t want it because he’s still sulking over her not being ‘real’. Although she says she can feel thirst, hunger, heat, cold and pain. Although I’m not really sure why they made her capable of feeling thirst or hunger. It just seems like that would be an unnecessary complication. He wants to know why she feels those things. That if she’s a machine they should have built her to look like a machine. It really annoys him that she looks like a ‘real’ woman but isn’t. A ‘lie’. She goes to touch his face but he grabs it and flings it away.
He stomps outside and she has followed. He yells at her for ‘mocking him’ by not being a ‘real’ woman. She tells him that he hurt her and she’s rubbing her wrist. He wants to know how he hurt her if she’s a machine. Duh, she just said “I can feel pain”. Dumbass.
He starts complaining (again) that he can’t hurt her because it’s not real flesh. To prove his point (and be an utter jackass) he grabs her by the arm and pushes her away. You’re lucky she’s not a ‘real’ woman because a human woman would probably kick your ass for that. He tells her she’s no better than a car and that he’s sick of being mocked by the memory of women wah wah wah, blah blah blah.
She’s crying and he comes to wipe her tears away. Not really out of gentleness, it looks like he’s just amazed she can cry. She says that she can feel loneliness too. He apologizes and they go hand in hand into the house. How sweet. Not.
She’s been there 11 months now and they’re playing chess. He wonders about their relationship, whether it’s man and woman or man and machine. He says he realizes that she’s an extension of him. His words, his emotions, repeated back to him. She loves what he loves. He’s not lonely anymore and he loves her. Nothing else matters. Would that be some weird version of self-love though? Or, when couples do love each other they do get very similar. Hmmm. Something to ponder on.
They hang out, look at the stars. They see what Alicia thinks is a star at first but they realize that it’s a ship. Corry says it must be Allenby’s ship but that another supply ship isn’t due for another three months. Something strange is afoot. Corry figures the rocket should land by morning. Alicia thinks they should get back to the house but Corry’s content hanging out with her.
The ship lands and Allenby comes racing for the shack, telling Corry he has good news for him. Corry’s been given a pardon (yay) and they have to leave in 20 minutes because they’e low on fuel. Corry can’t believe it. Adams tells him to hurry up and grab his stuff or they won’t be able to leave at all. They have other prisoners on board so Corry can only bring 15 pounds worth of stuff. Corry says he’s ready to go, he only wants to grab his journal.
Corry starts talking about him and Alicia getting on board. Allenby gets a weird look on his face and Adams is confused. Allenby explains to Adams that Alicia is a robit. Corry and he argue over whether she’s a robit or a real woman. What is she, Pinnochio? Allenby reminds Corry of the 15 pounds rule.
Corry says they’ll have to toss some stuff to make room for her. Allenby says the ship is stripped bare as it is and they just don’t have the room for the robit. Corry says if they leave her behind it’s murder because she’s human. He runs off to get Alicia to prove to them that she is real. He raises an interesting point. Is it actually murder? She has thoughts, emotions and can feel pain and thirst. In my opinion it would be cruel to leave her behind.
She’s hanging out behind a rock. Presumably because he has her hide when the supply ships comes because she’s not supposed to be there. He tells her to talk to them and show them that she’s real. Which, weirdly, she doesn’t. Allenby decides there’s no choice but to be blunt about it so he shoots her right in the face. Seems pretty freaking cold to me. She does look scared, too. The big hole in the face reveals her circuitry and wires. Corry looks stunned. Allenby says they’ve got to go now and to think of it as a bad dream, nothing more.
Corry, for being in love with her seems pretty ok with what just happened. They leave and I’m left to conjecture that Corry will be just as much of a whiner on Earth as he was on the asteroid.
On a microscopic piece of sand that floats through space is a fragment of a man’s life. Left to rust, as the place he lived in and the machines he used. Without use they will disintegrate from the wind and the sand and the years that act upon them. All of Mr. Corry’s machines, including the one made in his image, kept alive by love. But now obsolete in the Twilight Zone.
I’m not quite sure how I feel about this one. I for sure don’t like Corry. He’s a whiner and a jerk. An ungrateful jerk, at that. I did like Allenby, at first. But, damn, that was a cold thing to do. But, on the other hand, if they really couldn’t take her would it be kinder to kill hr rather than leave her? It also brings up the question of what makes something human. Is she human because she does have mostly human parts? Or, is she not because she’s a machine? It also brings up the question of what makes a person ‘real’.
I also wanted to leave a little note here. I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I’ve been spelling ‘robot’ as ‘robit’. It’s not a random typo. It’s actually the way they pronounce it and I get a kick out of it.
Join me again for next week’s Twilight Zone Tuesday for a person’s worst nightmare and a reader’s hell: Time Enough at Last
It’s also the first Twilight Zone episode starring Burgess Meredith. He’s a Twilight Zone regular and an awesome actor. He can play naive and wide-eyed, firm and morally upright and deliciously, deviously, pure evil. You’ll be seeing quite a bit of him so I hope you love him as much as I do.