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Recap / The Outer Limits 1995 S 3 E 7 The Camp

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The Control Voice: Our history is filled with grim reminders of our inhumanity. Armies are crushed, populations ravaged, enemies imprisoned behind walls of stone. But the human spirit is not so easily confined.

In a concentration camp surrounded by high walls, an Elder tells his fellow prisoners the story of how they came to be there. Twelve generations ago, an alien race called the New Masters came to Earth and wiped out most of humanity, trapping the rest in this concentration camp, where they are put to work manufacturing spaceship fuel. He tells the children that their birthright is outside the prison and scorns their human guards who collaborate with the aliens. For this show of disrespect, the guards drag him away.

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The next day, the human Commandant lines the prisoners up and tells them the Elder has been executed and that their rations will be cut as food supplies are getting low. A woman called Prisoner 98843 asks for permission to grow their own food or to have more food imported, but the Commandant dismisses them.

Prisoner 98843 and her mute daughter work on repairing machines and she complains to a guard about the lack of spare parts. The guards drag her into the Commandant's office and everybody assumes she will be raped. Instead, the Commandant pulls out his electronic eye and tells her to repair it, having seen her skill with machines. She negotiates more food for the prisoners and repairs the eye.

A man called Prisoner 91777 is chosen as the new Elder. To honor their deal, the Commandant takes 98843 and 91777 to a pool with a giant squid-like monster called a sharrak, that is normally used to execute prisoners, and hands 91777 a machete. The creature attacks them until 91777 chops off one of its tentacles. The Commandant allows them to keep the tentacle to feed their people.

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At the feast, some are wary of eating the tentacle, but others point out the sharrak had eaten many of them, so it is about time they got some payback. The Elder notes that there are fewer guards than before. He and a few others talk about how they have never actually seen the New Masters in person. In the past, his father participated in a failed uprising. One man managed to look over the wall and described it as scorched earth, black steel and New Masters everywhere. They are supposedly three times the size of a human with four arms and huge fangs.

Prisoner 98843 and her daughter are called to the Commandant's office and in the confusion, one of the prisoners sneaks away and tries to climb over the wall with a rope and an improvised grappling hook. The Commandant reveals to 98843 that he and the rest of guards are really androids that are starting to break down because they have not received maintenance in decades. He orders her to help repair them, threatening to feed her daughter to the sharrak if she does not. He returns her daughter to the other prisoners; since she cannot speak, she cannot give away their secret. She repairs them by gleaning parts from androids that have ceased to function. She is allowed to live separate from the other prisoners and is given a uniform like the guards to replace her rags. Even though she is able to secure more food and privileges for the prisoners, they, especially her lover, shun her as a traitor, thinking she is selling her body to the Commandant and the guards and not believing her explanation of what is really going on.

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She begins to notice that the spaceship fuel never actually gets shipped outside of the camp. The Commandant reveals that if the androids can no longer function well enough to hold the camp or if the New Masters deem the camp unnecessary, they will issue Procedure 7, a purging of the camp.

The prisoners are lined up and the one who climbed is missing. The Elder claims he is sick and 98843 checks his bed and pretends to confirm it. However, the guards bring out his corpse and reveal they stopped him from climbing the wall. As punishment for lying to him, the Commandant orders the guards to kill her daughter, but 98843 grabs him and rips his head right off his shoulders, proving to everyone that he was an android. The head angrily orders the guards to start Procedure 7 and kill them all, but she tells the prisoners that the guards are not invincible and to fight back. They attack the guards and tear them to pieces, though they take several casualties, including the Elder. Afterwards, 98843 explains that the androids were so old that their bodies had become fragile.

Though wary of the stories of what lies outside the walls, the now free humans open the gates to find the landscape is lush and green. Confused, they ask the Commandant's head where the New Masters are. He admits that he doesn't know. As far as he knows, the New Masters left Earth about a hundred years ago and he has not received any communication from them. He maintained the camp regimen simply because those were his orders. The head then shuts down. 98843, her daughter, and the rest of the surviving humans walk out into the beautiful landscape, filled with hope.

The Control Voice: Of all the needs which drive us: hunger, thirst, desire... perhaps the most powerful is the simple need to be free.

Tropes

  • Born into Slavery: Earth was conquered by the Tsal-Khan (otherwise known as the New Masters) twelve generations earlier, meaning that eleven generations of camp inmates were born into slavery.
  • Category Traitor: Prisoner 98843 is deemed a traitor when she starts working with the camp staff. It doesn't help that she can't tell them why, and also is given one of their uniforms. They also view the staff in general this way, believing they're humans (not androids).
  • Les Collaborateurs: Played with. The prisoners believe that the overseers are humans who are collaborating with the New Masters. In fact, they are androids who have run the camp for its entire twelve generation existence. When Prisoner 98843 begins working with the Commandant, the other inmates shun her as they regard her as a collaborator. However, she proves her loyalty when she tells them of the overseers' android status and that they are severely weakened due to having gone decades without repairs. She then urges them to fight back, which leads to a successful slave revolt.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: The commandant mentions that in the past some other humans discovered the camp staff were androids, and he killed them to keep this secret.
  • Kill ’Em All: The androids have standing orders to "execute Procedure Seven", the murder of all the human prisoners, once they are no longer needed. At the end, when Prisoner 98843 exposes them, the commandant orders this, but the human prisoners manage to overpower them and escape.
  • No Name Given: None of the characters in the episode are named. The android overseers seemingly don't have names, while the human slaves are referred to by serial numbers. However, two of the slaves are given the names Tali and Alex in the sequel "Promised Land".
  • Octopoid Aliens: The Commandant keeps a sharrak, an alien creature resembling a giant squid that can split its tentacles in two, at the titular concentration camp. On occasion, he feeds disruptive prisoners to it. The sharrak is itself a food source as the New Masters consider it a delicacy.
  • Oral Tradition: The Elders in the concentration camp have passed on the stories of what life was like before the New Masters conquered Earth for twelve generations.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The androids are, by design, indistinguishable from humans. Indeed, the only thing which sets them apart is a cold, dispassionate attitude, which isn't too out of place in the guards of a labor camp.
  • Shrouded in Myth: None of the human slaves have ever seen one of the New Masters, the alien race that had conquered Earth twelve generations earlier. During an uprising two generations earlier, one man caught a glimpse of the world outside the huge wall that surrounds the camp and supposedly told the father of Prisoner 91777 what he saw: scorched Earth, black steel and New Masters everywhere. The New Masters were alleged to be three times the size of a human with four arms and razor teeth. The Commandant reveals that the New Masters had abandoned Earth 100 years earlier, meaning that they were gone by the time of the uprising. After another, more successful uprising, the slaves open the gate and see that the landscape is lush and green.
  • SkeleBot 9000: The Commandant and the other camp overseers are androids who have a dermal layer fitted over their endoskeletons. This layer is organic and ages over time like human skin but it can be replaced. With every complete replacement, the relevant android assumes a new identity. The Commandant reveals to Prisoner 98843 that the previous ten camp commandants were all him.
  • Slave Liberation: The surviving humans are held as slaves for the "New Masters", an alien species that long ago conquered Earth. One of them discovers the overseers who run their camp are actually androids, and breaking down due to age. She then manages to lead a successful slave revolt.
  • Slave Race: Humans have been enslaved for twelve generations and are imprisoned in concentration camps where they manufacture spaceship fuel. The camps are overseen by androids (with the appearance of humans) and the humans are identified by serial numbers.
  • The Speechless: Prisoner 98843's daughter, who is apparently mute.
  • Super Strength: The androids have this-the commandant grabs the sharrak's tentacle and holds it back easily, then actually rips one off with one hand.
  • You Are Number 6: The human slaves in the concentration camp are identified by serial numbers.
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