Original Air Date: April 27, 1962
Writer: Rod Serling
Director: Allen H. Miner
“I wonder if God were to come to earth, would they find him so strange that they would be afraid, and would they shoot him?”
“The place is Mexico, just across the Texas border, a mountain village held back in time by its remoteness and suddenly intruded upon by the twentieth century. And this is Pedro, nine years old, a lonely, rootless little boy, who will soon make the acquaintance of a traveler from a distant place. We are at present forty miles from the Rio Grande, but any place and all places can be the Twilight Zone.”
A strange human-esque alien (Geoffrey Horne) crash-lands in an unidentified ship outside a rural Mexican village. He accidentally gets into a scuffle and kills a police officer while also being shot himself, he then stumbles into a bar and collapses. Inside the bar sits an old man playing guitar (played by legendary actor Vladimir Solokoff) and the owner (Cliff Osmond). A friendly doctor (Nico Minardos) removes two bullets from the alien’s chest who says his name is “Mr. Williams.” The townsfolk are suspicious of this strange man but a young boy named Pedro befriends him, so Mr. Williams gives Pedro a gift: a small document with some script written on it. The two discuss the nature of God and benevolence.
Suddenly the military arrives. Mr. Williams tries to escape but the military corners and kills him while he shrieks for Pedro to show them the gift. Sadly it is too late. The superstitious townsfolk proclaim his gift to be “black magic” and “from the devil” so they burn it. However, the doctor pulls the smoldering document from the flames –it reads: “Greetings to the people of earth. We come as friends and in peace. We bring you this gift. The following chemical formula is a vaccine, it’s a vaccine against all forms of cancer…” The rest of the script has been burned. The doctor solemnly says, “We have not just killed a man, we have killed a dream.”
“Madeiro, Mexico, the present. The subject: fear. The cure: a little more faith. An Rx off a shelf in the Twilight Zone.”
This episode turns the idea of villainous space invaders on its head as we bear witness to the true villains: humanity’s paranoia and superstition. Often in Rod Serling’s scripts we see a brand of anti-McCarthyism and anti-fanaticism as central to one of show’s themes –the notion that humanity is often its own worst enemy. This episode inverts the Trojan Horse theme found in fellow Season 3 episode “To Serve Man.” I was saddened to learn that many fans consider this episode to be a turning point in the series, the point at which The Twilight Zone begins to decline. It has generally not been favorably reviewed but I thought this was another wonderful addition to the series.
The Twilight Zone Trivia:
- This episode aired a little over two months after the death of Vladimir Solokoff who plays the elderly blind guitarist. This episode was his final screen performance. He also previously appeared in Season 2’s “The Dust.”
- A version of this episode was originally considered for the series pilot, but it was passed over for “Where Is Everybody?”
- The alien alludes to the famous Robert Burns poem in this episode: “The best laid plans of mice and men…”
- Released shortly after Easter, this episode contains significant religious imagery.
- The guitar music for this episode was composed by Brazilian classical guitarist Laurindo Almeida.
Click here to return to my survey of The Twilight Zone series.
As far as sad endings go in The Twilight Zone, this one remains most haunting and relevant. The human species still has much growing up to do.
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