Recap / The Twilight Zone S 1 E 22 The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street

Rod Serling: Maple Street, U.S.A. Late summer. A tree-lined little world of front porch gliders, barbecues, the laughter of children, and the bell of an ice-cream vendor. At the sound of the roar and the flash of light, it will be precisely 6:43pm on Maple Street. This is Maple Street on a late Saturday afternoon. Maple Street, in the last calm and reflective moment before the monsters came.

A group of families on Maple Street are enjoying an evening when a supposed meteor flies closely overhead...and doesn't crash. Soon the power goes out, and when everyone starts asking questions, a boy comes forth with a comic book about aliens landing and disguising themselves as normal people. While everyone initially ignores him, they start thinking...

As a few hours passes, and no restoration of normal circumstances happens, paranoia soon gets the better of the people on Maple Street, and they start a borderline Witch Hunt, as people in the neighborhood who have been perceived as acting suspicious, even if it is just minor stuff like having a slightly different daily routine than everybody else, are accused of being aliens in cahoots with whoever is behind the power outage. It doesn't get any better when the power in some houses along Maple Street starts randomly turning on and off, and their inhabitants now have the blame cast on them.

It is in the midst of this thick atmosphere of fear that a man from the street who returns from checking on neighbors is shot, and this finally pushes everyone over the edge; the whole neighborhood goes insane, running around and committing acts of wanton assault and vandalism, as they blame everyone around them for being one of the enemy.

On a nearby hill, it is revealed the mysterious meteor that had flown overhead was, indeed, an alien spaceship. Its inhabitants, two alien observers, are watching the riot on Maple Street while using a device to manipulate the neighborhood's power. One of the aliens explains to his colleague that they have done this all over the planet, and the result has been the same each and every time. They don't have to fire a single shot to conquer the planet; the humans quickly become paranoid when faced with an unusual situation and can easily be tricked into destroying each other and themselves.

Rod Serling: The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own - for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone.

Remade as "The Monsters Are On Maple Street" for the 2003 revival, with the fear of aliens being changed to one of terrorists.


2003 remake