Rod Serling’s Opening Lines – “Her name: X-20. Her type: an experimental interceptor. Recent history: a crash landing in the Mojave Desert after a thirty-one hour flight nine hundred miles into space. Incidental data: the ship, with the men who flew her, disappeared from the radar screen for twenty-seven hours. But the shrouds that cover mysteries are not always made out of tarpaulin, as this man will soon find out on the other side of a hospital door.”
“And When The Sky Was Opened”
Directed by Douglas Heyes
TZ director Doug Heyes (The Invaders, The Howling Man) delivers another knock out entry written by none other than that dynamic duo of Serling and Richard Matheson. A creepy tale about what happens when we are faced with the impossible scenario of just “disappearing.” Where do we go? Did we ever really exist at all? Who does this to us?
Some very creepy questions come to mind but not before we begin to really think that we must be going insane or at least still asleep and caught up in a nightmare where we never wake up. This episode tackles some freaky and surreal topics. The foremost, though, being about our existence.
Rod Taylor (The Birds and The Time Machine) , in a fantastic performance, plays Col Forbes, a nervous and shattered test pilot who is grappling with demons of his own. He goes to visit his still hospitalized co-pilot friend Major Gart (Jim Hutton of Don’t be Afraid of the Dark) who has broken his leg after their test vehicle crash lands in the Desert. Upon receiving Forbes, Gart notices that something is awry and Forbes starts to spin a very strange yarn to Gart about how they survived the crash and how many survivors there were. Forbes insists that there were 3 survivors and not two.
Gart, Forbes and Col. Ed Harrington (Charles Aidman – Kotch, Picture of Dorian Gray). Gart has no recollection of Harrington which ignites Forbes into a hysterical recollection of the previous night’s happenings. According to Forbes, he and Harrington were discharged first and upon celebrating their mission go to a local bar to unwind. Gart being left behind because his leg was broken. At the bar though, Harrington notices that he is not feeling “like he belongs there” a reverse type of deja vu. While looking in the mirror across the bar he becomes startled and panics. He spills his drink and calls his folks, from a phone booth, who proceed to tell him that they have no son named “Ed Harrington” Creepy huh?
He calls over to Forbes to tell him what is happening. Forbes turns around for a minute and returns only to find the booth empty. Much worse the bartender tells Forbes that he was alone the whole time and that he never entered with a “Ed Harrington” He goes ape-shit in the bar and exclaims that “They are all crazy” So begins Forbes nightmarish descent into “The Twilight Zone” This episode stands out to me first and foremost because of Taylor’s pitch perfect portrayal of a man slowly become nothing.
A man disappearing into nowhere. He chain smokes, shakes, crashes through glass doors, screams, cries and sweats never letting up on the build up and intensity of the material. He is superb here. Next up is the awesome story that never reveals holes or hokey subplots. Well, maybe one about the low orbit flight and all but it’s just nit picking. Serling and Matheson weave a very real nightmare which involves the colliding of two worlds and then the inevitable disappearance of another. What happened during the test flight? Why did they disappear from radar?
All very interesting questions but the resolution makes more sense than the journey there. This is only because this is…The Twilight Zone. Highly Recommended!
NOTE: This Episode is currently on Netflix Streaming! Enjoy.