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Recap / The Outer Limits 1995 S 4 E 20 Nightmare

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The Control Voice: While some prisoners of war show bravery beyond the call of duty, others succumb to an enemy often more formidable than the one which captured them.

Earth is at war with a planet called Ebon. A crew is given a mission to send a bomb powerful enough to destroy a planet to Ebon in an attempt to win the war, but get captured by the Ebonites and locked in a room with the bomb. The crew never actually see the Ebonites, just hear their voice, but everyone experiences various forms of physical and psychological torture with high tech devices, including being mutilated (which is healed afterwards) and being made to hallucinate loved ones appearing. The crew is interrogated about their mission, ordered to teach the Ebonites how to arm the bomb so they can use it for themselves, and begin to grow paranoid when the Ebonites imply one or more of the crew betrayed them. Eventually, one of the crew reaches his breaking point and kills another, believing he was the traitor. It's then revealed that the crew was on Earth all along, with their General explaining they were being tested to see how they stand up to stress and interrogation. Unfortunately, at the same time, the creator of the bomb, believing that they were all going to die, had set the bomb to go off, hoping to take the Ebonites with them. With the bomb unable to be deactivated, it explodes, presumably wiping out Earth.

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The Control Voice: In our efforts to plumb the depths of our psychological endurance, we may do more than drive ourselves to the breaking point... we may destroy the very world we're seeking to protect.

Tropes:

  • The Bad Guy Wins: Due to the humans inadvertently destroying themselves and their planet, the Ebonites win the war without even having to do anything.
  • Binary Suns: The Ebonites' solar system is said to have two suns.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: It turns out that every member of the crew has one. Part of the experiment consists of the supposed Ebonites playing upon their pasts while interrogating them.
  • Downer Ending: Even worse than the 1963 original. In this case, it's one of the revival series' many Cruel Twist Endings.
  • Earth All Along: The crew finds out that they were on Earth the whole time and that their interrogation was a psychological experiment.
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  • Gaslighting: The military uses elaborate special effects to imitate the Ebonites' capabilities.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The interrogation experiment showed the crew's psychological endurance alright; unfortunately, it resulted in Naguchi being stabbed in the stomach while O'Keefe sets the device to blow and take the earth with it.
  • Irony: As the narration points out, the General's experiment ends up destroying the very world he was seeking to protect.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The General ends up receiving severe repercussions for his interrogation experiment. This was probably to counter the Karma Houdini ending of the original.
  • The Mole: One of the experiment's tactics was making the crew think there was a traitor in the ranks'. Unfortunately, when they made it look like it was Naguchi, it resulted in Valentine stabbing him in the stomach.
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  • My God, What Have I Done?: After realizing that she set the device to blow on Earth, O'Keefe spends her final moments in grief over it.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: What exactly the Ebonites look like is not shown.
  • Not Quite Dead: At first, it looked like Chaumsky had been killed during her interrogation, but turned out to be a simulated corpse.
  • Only Sane Man: After Chaumsky found out about the experiment, she begged the General to stop, but she was ignored. Turns out they should've listened to her.
  • Taking You with Me: At the end of the experiment, The Stoic O'Keefe has reached her breaking point even more than the others and ends up setting the Earth-Shattering Kaboom device to blow, believing that she and the others were going to die in enemy territory, unaware they were really on Earth.
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