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Recap / The Outer Limits (1963) S 1 E 26 "The Guests"

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"I'm an illusion. They're so easy to lose." "I want to lose them. I want to believe in you."
"Art could be man's destiny if there were no negative factors in the equation, but there are."

This episode has no Control Voice narration.

Dr. Ames (Burt Mustin), a wizened old man in 19th century clothing, is running through the woods, fleeing from a Victorian mansion. The structure is more than it seems, for when he turns back to look at it, the mansion transforms into a house-sized brain! Just as Ames collapses in the road, handsome young drifter Wade Norton (Geoffrey Horne) drives by and assumes that he hit the old man. As Wade heads to the house (which has resumed its normal appearance) seeking help, Dr. Ames silently implores him not to go, but it's too late. Once Wade is out of sight, the old man crumbles to dust.


"Bring your tropes here!"

  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: A variation. When Tess is succumbing to Rapid Aging, she covers her face with her suddenly wrinkled hands.
  • Big Fancy House: It's an interesting place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there.
  • Big "NO!": Tess' reaction when the alien says it wants to "dissect and absorb" Wade's brain: "NO! No! Don't do that to him!"
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: The alien brain seems to be the only light source in the attic where it ruminates.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Wade is heartbroken when Tess dies for him, but her sacrifice not only allows him to leave the house before it's too late, but shows the alien that The Power of Love is humanity's salvation.
  • Blob Monster/Brain Monster: The alien's design splits the difference.
  • Chaos Architecture: The alien's ability to physically alter the house makes it an In-Universe example, as Florida notes after Wade returns from the limbo corridor.
    Florida (to Wade): Interesting architecture, isn't it? Hallways that go nowhere, doors that open into empty rooms.
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  • Cool Car: Wade drives a 1930s Ford convertible.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ethel is always ready with a quip, and her main pleasure in life is pointing out the faults of the other guests and ridiculing them. This especially applies to her husband.
    Wade: Why don't you leave?
    Ethel: I'm sharing my husband's life sentence.
    Randall: And if you can tear him down to match your image of yourself, so much the better.
    Ethel: Shut up, Randall, or I'll be nice to you.
  • Desperately Craves Affection: Florida's follow-up to Ethel's threat of niceness shows that her imperious manner is a cover for her loneliness and insecurity.
    Florida (to Wade): I, on the other hand, require niceness. I wither without it. Be nice to me, or else [suddenly bursting into tears] get out of here!
  • The Drifter: Wade, as often lampshaded by both himself and the other characters. He's an well-intentioned youth who's Walking the Earth while Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The alien brain is a formless, gelatinous, faceless glowing blob who takes over a Victorian mansion and keeps whoever occupies it prisoner for its studies. It appears to have reality warping abilities — the mansion is so under its influence that it can easily change its features around, including removing the main entrance door and adding doors and abstract, long hallways that weren't originally in it, and it seems to exist outside of space and time, so the people trapped in it don't age inside, but if they do manage to find an exit, their real age will instantly catch up with them if they so much as set foot outside of its boundaries.
  • Eldritch Location: The mansion was turned into this due to the influence of the alien occupying it. The outside of it has the appearance of a giant brain when it's not disguising itself as a mansion, and on the inside, the alien has total control over it — it resides upstairs in a completely pitch black room (save for the light it pulsates) where it conducts its studies. It can arrange the doors and hallways of the place in any way it feels like, precluding escape from it except for those savvy enough to find an exit — but even then, the mansion exists outside of space and time, so if one spends too long there, they can succumb to Rapid Aging if they set foot outside of it.
  • Evil Laugh: Sort of. The alien laughs before it first speaks to Wade, although whether it's evil or not is a matter of interpretation.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Tess does two of them.
    • She explains to Wade that she stayed in the house for her father's sake:
      Tess: My father was a resigner. He saw this as a way of resigning from the human race. He asked me to stay with him, and I stayed because he needed me.
    • And then she gives up her pseudo-life in the house to save Wade from becoming trapped with her and the others.
  • In-Universe Nickname: Her real name is Teresa, but she is "usually called simply 'Tess'".
  • Jerkass Has a Point: For all her nastiness, Ethel is a very perceptive woman, as she proves when she reasons out why Wade might want to stay in the house despite all his protests otherwise.
    Ethel: You're a gifted dreamer chasing a rainbow no one else believes in, much less sees. You drift because there's nothing heavy in your noble heart to anchor it in reality. But you're scared, young man. You begin to suspect you, don't you? You're not so sure you won't plunk yourself down here and dream a life... and live a dream.
  • Last-Name Basis: We never learn Dr. Ames' first name, although his initial is C.
  • Laughing Mad: Ethel's reaction when the alien destroys the house and everyone still inside, in contrast with her husband and Florida, who scream and wail in terror.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Played with. Wade doesn't quite become crazy, but he loves Tess so much that he's willing to spend eternity in the house with her. However, Tess doesn't want this for him, so...
  • Meta Casting: Faded star Florida Patton is played by faded star Gloria Grahame.
  • Nice Guy: Despite occasional flashes of anger (especially toward the alien brain), at heart Wade is a kindly, gentle young man. No wonder he's attracted to Tess, who's a Nice Girl to the point of being an Extreme Doormat.
  • No Immortal Inertia: People who leave the alien-controlled house where Time Stands Still instantly become their real age — which leads to Rapid Aging and death for anyone who stays too long.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Latimers and Florida each do their own version of this when they realize the alien is about to destroy them.
  • Place Beyond Time: The mansion becomes this under the alien's influence. Lampshaded during one of its sessions with Wade.
    Alien: I have more time than forever.
    Wade: I don't.
  • Prone to Tears: Tess cries several times during the episode.
  • Rapid Aging: The fate of anyone who leaves the house after staying too long, followed by death.
  • Reality Warper: As noted, the alien can physically rearrange the architecture of the house, including causing the doors and windows to disappear and reappear.
  • Rebellious Spirit: Wade has one, and it emerges stronger than ever when the alien attempts to mess with his mind.
    Alien: You intend to resist?
    Wade: I don't know why. At least I have to try to resist it.
    Alien: What is this emotion you are transmitting? I have not encountered it till now.
    Wade: Everyone I've ever known has called it defiance.
  • Show Within a Show: Florida names and quotes from one of her old movies:
    My Madcap Heart was the title of my first bad picture.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Dr. Ames dies in the first scene, but if Wade hadn't encountered him the rest of the story wouldn't have happened.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Poor Wade and Tess; if they'd met sooner, they would have been able to leave the house together and live Happily Ever After, but by the time the story begins it's already too late. And when Wade makes it clear that he's willing to stay in the mansion to be with Tess, she makes it equally clear that she won't let him throw his life away, no matter the cost to herself.
  • Time Stands Still: Within the mansion, at least until the alien finishes its calculations.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The locket with Tess' picture becomes one for Wade by the end of the episode. He's holding it as he walks away from the site of the vanished house.
  • Walk Through The Camera: Wade does this to transition from a conversation with Tess to his attempt to escape the house.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: As with Norma Desmond, Florida Patton was famous during The Silent Age of Hollywood, but her career suffered when talkies began and she's still salty about it:
    I'm a star. Audiences hear stars with their souls, not with their ears!
  • White Void Room: The alien holds court in the house's attic, which it has transformed into a black void room.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Time Stands Still within the house while passing normally in the outside world, which is one of the reasons why the alien's prisoners stay.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Happens to the Latimers and Florida when the alien finishes its calculations.


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