People Are Alike All Over
Sam Conrad – Roddy McDowall
Marcusson – Paul Comi
Teenya – Susan Oliver
Martian #1 – Byron Morrow
Martian #2 – Vic Perrin
Martian #3 – Vernon Gray
We’re looking at two guys behind a chain-link fence, almost like a cage…hmm. There’s an announcement about the Blast Area being cleared at a certain time in a couple of hours. We finally see what the guys are looking at. It’s a rocket ship and they’re supposed to be on it in a few hours. Marccusson remarks that it’s strange they’re spending their last few hours on Earth staring at their transportation to the stars. It sounds like it’s going to be a fairly long trip. Marcusson thinks they should be out cruising the Earth streets and dancing with the Earth girls (because Earth Girls Are Easy).
Sam asks Marcusson if he’s scared. Marcusson doesn’t think he is but wants to know if Sam is. Unabashedly Sam confesses that he is afraid. Very afraid. He points out that it’s different for Marcusson. Marcusson has trained for it but Sam has not. He’s not an astronaut at all, in fact, he’s a biologist. They only want him to go because of his expertise and he rather wishes they could send his brain and not him. Oh, yes. Sam is frightened. Especially of what they may find up there. Marcusson tries to be reassuring to Sam, telling him that that’s the one thing he shouldn’t be afraid. Marcusson says he’s not surprised that Sam would be afraid of the unknown, the loneliness and the silence. But Marcusson thinks that people are the same all over. Which really should terrify Sam even more. That is, if they run into actual people and not face-huggers or Star Spawn. Sam scoffs at the idea of people being on Mars. Marcusson says that wherever they exist they’ll be exactly the same. Which is a little presumptuous, if you ask me.
You’re looking at a specie of flimsy little two-legged animal with extremely small heads whose name is man. Warren Marcusson, age 35. Samuel A. Conrad, age 31. They’re taking a highway into space. Man unshackling himself and sending his tiny, groping fingers up into the unknown. Their destination is Mars, and in just a moment we’ll land there with them.
The rocket takes off and it actually looks pretty decent. Much better than some of the other rockets in other episodes. They approach a planet (I’m not sure if it’s Mars or not, it looks really weird but something goes wrong and they come in for a crash landing. As they’re crash landing they and their items are thrown about. And, swear to Cthulhu, the Pac-Man shaped lights from ‘Third From The Sun‘ are back!
Despite hanging upside down from his seat, Sam seems relatively ok. Sam wades through the prop debris, looking for Marcusson. They must use pretty crappy materials in their gaillion dollar rocket ships because even though Marcusson was wearing his seat belt like a good little astronaut his whole chair snapped off it’s base, tossing him to the floor. A mattress pad is on top of him and somehow gave him life threatening injuries. I suppose the injuries could be from being flung about.
Sam checks to see if Marcusson is still alive and then rushes for a teeny-tiny medical kit. Sam injects Marcusson with something (maybe adrenaline?) that wakes him up immediately. Marcusson is obviously in pain but he makes a weak joke about “any landing you can walk away from, huh?’. Marcusson asks what kind of shape the ship is in and Sam tells him that the air pressure is good and the lights are on. Tht’s all he’s checked so far. I’m wondering when he had time to do that since as soon as he woke up he went right for Marcusson. Sam tells Marcusson to rest, they have plenty of time. Marcusson seems to disagree but isn’t in any shape to argue. As Marcusson falls unconscious again, Sam hears a mysterious tapping that seems to be coming from the outside of the ship. After Marcusson passes out completely Sam goes to the hull to listen again.
Marcusson wakes up a few hours later and calls for Sam. He wants to rush outside and plant their flag right away. Sam tells Marcusson that he should rest for now, they’ve got plenty of flag-planting time later. Marcusson wants to do it right now because they’ve come 35 million miles. Sam argues that an hour or two won’t make that much difference then. I will say that Marcusson is determined. He pulls himself up (all the time making constipated faces). The tapping comes again. Sam hears it, and it seems to be freaking him out, but it doesn’t appear that Marcusson hears it. He tries to open the door but Sam hurriedly says that the hydraulics are broken so it won’t open. Marcusson tells Sam to switch it to the back-up and get it open. Sam torpedoes that idea, too, so Marcusson says he’ll do it himself.
He starts to grunt and groan his way over but collapses. Sam tells him again that he should rest. Marcusson tells him to open the door and Sam says he can’t. Marcusson calls him a liar and asks why he won’t open the door. Sam says he can’t…because. Marcusson wants to know why he’s not more curious to see what’s out there, where’s his scientific curiosity? Well, my guess would be that he’s freaked out by what might be out there. And they haven’t identified yet whether or not the air is even breathable. I actually get both sides of their arguments. Sam doesn’t know what could be tapping. Sure, it could be friendly but it also might have giant pincers and think man-meat is tasty. And., also, they haven’t checked the air. However, on Marcusson’s side, he’s most likely dying so if it were me and I was almost dead from their quest I would at least want to check it out before I crashed for good.
Marcusson wants to know why Sam came along, anyways, if he’s not curious at all. Well, he did tell you before they left that he was ‘volunteered’ to go and really didn’t want to because he was afraid. You’d think Marcusson would remember that but maybe his brains are a little shaken from the crash and whatever Sam shot him up with. Marcusson tells Sam to at least help him up and out and then Sam can lock the door behind him. That sounds fair. Marcusson gets what he wants and Sam can hide in his safe, little spaceship all he wants.
Marcusson says he thinks he’s dying and he wants to see what he’s dying for. He also has a hunch that whatever is out there will help Sam. Marcusson says, “As long as they’ve got hearts and minds, that means they’ve got souls. That makes them people. And people are alike.” I believe I’d like to refer Marcusson to our many and various crimes committed by “people with minds and hearts”. Well, hearts in the technical sense, anyway. Saying that they’ll help because they must be like “people” would make me even more leery to rush out to meet them. I think I’d prefer the monstrous thing with tentacles and pincers that wants to eat me. At least the motives would be clear.
After this very impassioned speech Marcusson passes away. Sam begs him not to leave him alone. And then the tapping starts again. Sam tells Marcusson that just because he thinks there are “people” out there doesn’t mean there is. And, frankly, Sam doesn’t want to know. It doesn’t look like he’s going to have much choice, though, because the door starts to open. Sam freaks out and grabs a gun from a box, sits in a corner and waits.
Sam pops his head out of the open door to see a bunch of human looking ‘people’ outside. What is it with people-like alien civilizations that they prefer togas and Roman clothing? A man steps forward from the group. I’m assuming that he’s the leader because he’s a got a cool leather strappy thing on his toga and nobody else does. He takes the gun from Sam (guess grabbing that was a waste of time) and chucks it away. The female standing with them ambles over now with a very interested look on her face. Sam doesn’t do much but goggle at everyone. Especially the woman. He’s very thrilled to find out that they really are ‘people’, just like he is. Well, I’d make the argument that the woman is a bit more attractive but you get the gist. Although I do think Roddy McDowall is kind of cute.
He starts telling them not to be frightened, that his name is Sam Conrad. Which kind of cracks me up because they don’t look scared or worried at all. In fact, the two guys who appear to be in charge keep giving each other smirks. So, I’m guessing they’re not too afraid of one little Sam Conrad. Especially a Roddy McDowall shaped Sam Conrad. Anyways, he goes into the usual “We come in peace from Earth and you guys live on a planet that we call Mars”. While Sam is drawing pictures in the dirt one of the guys goes and peeks in the ship and reports that the other man in dead. This freaks Sam out. I’m not sure why since he already knew that. It could also be because the man is speaking English. They tell Sam not to worry. They don’t intend on hurting him either and they’ve been waiting for hours for him to come out.
He asks how they know English and the woman tells him that he’s actually speaking their language through a sort of hypnosis. Potato, potahto. Point is, they can understand each other. Who really cares how it’s happening? The woman says that he must be tired and hungry and they’ll find someplace for him to eat and rest. He’s very thankful. Sam can’t stop staring at them and can’t get over the fact that they look like people and that Marcusson was right. Remembering Marcusson for the first time (which is a little weird since the other guy was just talking about him) he rushes over to the ship to check that yes, indeed, Marcusson is dead. The men pull him out and kindly offer to bury his friend for him. He can choose which marker he would like, later. As the woman watches she puts a hand over her heart in sympathy. Sam takes a moment to tell Marcusson that he was right and wished he could have lived to see it. Not to be a downer but maybe if ol’ Sam there had opened the door earlier then maybe they could have fixed him. it doesn’t really say, however, so I’m just speculating. They also offer to fix his ship which, in light of later events, is a little weird.
Sam has a whole lot of questions about them, the way they live and their science. Lead Strappy Guy looks a little bored with Sam’s questions and says they’ll answer them later. Strappy Guy tells Sam to rest while they fix a place for him, a place that will feel familiar and comfortable. The woman starts to leave and Sam asks her name. So, Sam only wants the name of the hottie, what a surprise (although, to give the show credit, she is the only one with an actual name in the credits). Her name is Teenya. which I actually really like. It’s cute. He asks her to tell everyone how appreciative he is and how scared he was before. She tells him not to be afraid and that no one will hurt him. He starts to close the door while he rests but a look from Teenya makes him feel a little embarrassed for doing so and he re-opens it.
Sometime later Sam pops out of the ship and is greeted by the same people as before, including one more. Sam asks to see the rest of the city now. They tell him he can but first they have a surprise for him. They all troop off together but Teenya hangs back a bit with a sad look on his face. Sam asks if she’s coming. It looks like she doesn’t want to and is about to say something but a look from the brawny, dark haired new guy stops her and she says she will come.
They take him to a home that looks just like a home on Earth. Sam asks if that’s the way they live but Strappy says no, they built it for him overnight. Sam says that it’s a perfect replica. Teenya still has a weird look on her face. The other three look very pleased. He asks how they knew and how they built it so quickly. They don’t answer the building question but say they got the image of the house itself from his mind. They invite him to look at the rest of the house. He says it’s perfect and they’re very happy. They want him to feel comfortable and does he? Sam is overcome with gratitude and thanks them.
They ask him if he’d mind staying there for a while since they need to arrange things for him visiting the city and the people. Mind? Sam’s happy to stay! He offers to show them out, it being his house and all. Strappy and his second in command give each other a “good job, bro” high five/handshake. As they’re leaving (Brawny making sure Teenya stays in front of him) Sam asks Teenya if he’ll see her again. Brawny says of course! And they leave.
After they leave Sam is enjoying his new house. It even comes complete with booze and ice. Which he sticks his finger in and dabs it behind his ears? Okey dokey. He putters around his new kitchen a bit and thinks it’s a little weird that there’s no window in the kitchen but shrugs it off. He tries to open the back kitchen door but it’s locked and won’t open. This gives him the idea to try the front door. That’s locked, too. He tries another door (which kind of looks like it should go to a bedroom but he treats it as a front door) and discovers that it’s locked too. He tries to pull the drapes to look out of the window but they just fall, revealing no windows anywhere. The wall he was just staring at slowly opens and reveals bars, with people looking in from the other side. He wants to know what’s wrong? Why are they looking at him like that? He sees Teenya looking on sadly from the crowd. He looks down and sees a sign: Earth Creature in His Native Habitat. He gives Teenya a betrayed look and she flees through the crowd. He shakes the bars (which are strangely squishy looking) and yells that Marcusson really was right. People are alike all over.
Specie of animal brought back alive. Interesting similarity and physical characteristics to human beings in head, trunk, arms, legs, hands, feet and a tiny, undeveloped brain. Comes from primitive planet named Earth. Calls himself Samuel Conrad. And he will remain here in his cage with the running water, the electricity and the central heat as long as he lives. Samuel Conrad has found the Twilight Zone.
About the only thing I can say about this one is that in one respect thy are a bit more advanced than we are. Earth would dissect him to see what makes him tick. Or to see if he’s the same on the inside. Serling could also partly be saying that the comforts we live in are a kind of cage since we become slaves to the almighty dollar bill that keeps our comforts going. We have to pay electric bills, internet bills, gas bills. These used to be considered luxuries. Now they have become ‘necessities’. I’m not being judgmental at all. I pay the same things and consider them necessities, rather than luxuries. Even food and drink, which is an actual necessity, I’ll pay more just to have what I like. But it’s also mostly our choice. And I’ll be the first to admit that living completely self-sufficiently does not appeal to me.
I know we’re kind of supposed to be a bit horrified at the ending but, really, is Sam all that badly off? He has food, shelter, a television. Throw some books in there and most people would be pretty set. Heck, they’d probably even let him date. After all, wouldn’t they be interested in the courting rituals of Earthlings? Aaaand I’ll just stop there before it gets into a very weird, very awkward territory.
Join me again next week for another episode of Twilight Zone: Execution