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Recap / The Outer Limits (1963) S 1 E 5 "The Sixth Finger"

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Cathy observes an experimenting Gwyllm in this publicity photo.

The Control Voice: Where are we going? Life, the timeless, mysterious gift, is still evolving. What wonders, or terrors, does evolution hold in store for us in the next 10,000 years? In a million? In six million? Perhaps the answer lies in this old house in this old and misty valley ...

Welsh coal miner Gwyllm Griffiths (David McCallum) volunteers for an experiment in which human evolution is accelerated.

The Control Voice: An experiment too soon, too swift. And yet may we not still hope to discover a method by which within one generation, the whole human race could be rendered intelligent, beyond hatred, or revenge, or the desire for power? Is that not, after all, the ultimate goal of evolution?


The Sixth Tropes:

  • Above Good and Evil: Gwyllm eventually evolves into this, and abandons his plans to get revenge on the town.
  • An Aesop: Being intelligent isn't quite as important as being compassionate.
  • Alliterative Name: Gwyllm Griffiths.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Prof. Mathers considers reverting Gwyllm to his original present-day human state, he points him the question: "Would you go back to a monkey, Professor?"
  • Bald of Awesome: Gwyllm gradually loses his hair as he evolves.
  • Brought Down to Normal: What Cathy does to Gwyllm at the end of the episode.
  • Extra Digits: Future humans will grow a sixth finger, as implied by the title.
  • Fatal Flaw: In Gwyllm's case, Revenge Before Reason. He dislikes the mining town because of how backwards it is, to the point of resentment. Later, when he's become evolved, it magnifies to the point that he intends to destroy it out of sheer hatred.
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  • Goal-Oriented Evolution: Evolution has a definite direction in this episode.
  • Guilt Complex: Prof. Mathers was part of a team which developed an atomic bomb capable of destroying the planet. He feels guilty and tries to atone by finding a way to speed up evolution and eliminate hatred and war from humankind.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Cathy is young, pure, innocent and blonde, and is driven by her love for Gwyllm. (But Beware the Nice Ones: she crosses the plans of her hyper-evolving love.)
  • Humans Are Psychic in the Future: Gwyllm gains telepathic and later telekinetic powers as he evolves.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Gwyllm feels he's too smart to work as a miner in a backwards rural mining town. He wants to break out of that life, which is why he volunteers for the Professor's experiment.
  • Improbably High I.Q.: Realistically Averted. Prof. Mathers gives Gwyllm gives some IQ tests after experimenting on him, but soon realizes his intellect is beyond the measurable range.
  • My Brain Is Big: And growing bigger throughout the episode as Gwyllm evolves.
  • Screw Learning, I Have Phlebotinum!: Zig-Zagged. Gwyllm proclaims "What good is intelligence without knowledge?", asks the scientist for books, and spends a good chunk of the episode reading. On the other hand, he finds out he can play the piano even if he's never studied it — perhaps Awesomeness by Analysis plays a role.
  • Serial Escalation: The original experiment evolves Gwyllm by 25,000 years, but after that he starts evolving on his own, and by the end he's several million years ahead of the rest of mankind.
  • Smart People Speak the Queen's English: Gwyllm loses his rural Welsh accent as he evolves and speaks with an English accent.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Professor Mathers.
  • Stock Footage: Establishing shots of the Welsh mining town are taken from John Ford's 1941 classic How Green Was My Valley.
  • Transformation Sequence: First when Gwyllm evolves into his first advanced stage, and second when he de-evolves back into his normal human form.
  • Transhuman: This episode is a classic example for the concept.
  • Uplifted Animal: The professor's chimpanzee, Darwin.


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