Original Air Date: May 26, 1961
Writer: Rod Serling
Director: Montgomery Pittman
“Wintry February night, the present. Order of events: a phone call from a frightened woman notating the arrival of an unidentified flying object, then the checkout you’ve just witnessed, with two state troopers verifying the event – but with nothing more enlightening to add beyond evidence of some tracks leading across the highway to a diner. You’ve heard of trying to find a needle in a haystack? Well, stay with us now, and you’ll be part of an investigating team whose mission is not to find that proverbial needle, no, their task is even harder. They’ve got to find a Martian in a diner, and in just a moment you’ll search with them, because you’ve just landed – in The Twilight Zone.”
On a snowy February evening in 1961 two state troopers are called upon to investigate an unidentified flying object. They discover, much to their amazement, a foreign object which has crashed in a nearby lake. They also find tracks in the snow near the crash that lead to a diner. They close a bridge out of town and head inside the diner where they find nine people -seven bus passengers (despite the fact that there were only six passengers on the bus), the bus driver, and a barman.
In a brilliant scene reminiscent of classic whodunniit stories (think Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None), each person is asked by the troopers to exonerate themselves in the quest uncover what happened with the UFO. The group of passengers includes an older couple, a younger couple, a young lady, a curmudgeonly businessman, and a high energy old bum with a crazy eye. We (the audience) are left to ask: who might be the alien? Everyone becomes a suspect.
Strange things happen in the diner while each character draws suspicion until finally the bridge opens and all the people file out of the diner and onto the bus. Moments later the grumpy businessman (played by John Hoyt) returns to the diner. He sits at the bar and offers a suspicious alibi as to why he is not on the bus. He claims the bus has crashed and only he has survived -but his story is quickly proven false and a strange third arm emerges from under his jacket. Backed into a corner, his story unfolds. He admits he is a Martian scout sent to earth in preparation for an invasion. However, the barman simply smiles and reveals he is also a foreign invader from from Venus doing the same thing. Under his hat he amusingly reveals a third eye. Thus concludes an amusing episode in the series.
“Incident on a small island, to be believed or disbelieved. However, if a sour-faced dandy named Ross or a big, good-natured counterman who handles a spatula as if he’d been born with one in his mouth, – if either of these two entities walk onto your premises, you’d better hold their hands – all three of them – or check the color of their eyes – all three of them. The gentlemen in question might try to pull you in – to The Twilight Zone.”
The Twilight Zone Trivia:
- Rod Serling’s working title for this episode was “The Night of the Big Rain.” In his original treatment, Serling revealed the alien to be the cafe owner’s pet dog.
- The character of the eccentric old man makes a reference to Ray Bradbury.
- The bus company is called Cayuga Bus Lines -a reference to Serling’s production company.