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Recap / The Outer Limits 1995 S4 E21: "Promised Land"

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The Control Voice: Our most powerful instinct is self-preservation. But what happens when fear and mistrust twist that drive into a force more destructive than any outside enemy?

A sequel to "The Camp", this episode deals with the survivors as they seek to find food, and a family of Tsel-Khan, the alien species who had conquered Earth. Their family is among the few still left on Earth, and they run a farm near the ruins of Seattle, Washington in the US.

All of their food is grown in a greenhouse, since their people in the past poisoned all plants on Earth with a biological agent. The human survivors are now in the ruins of Seattle, trying to find food. One of them, Rebecca, leads them in naming themselves, as the androids who held them enslaved only gave them numbers.

However, they are in desperate need to find food. In spite of Rebecca warning that it was poisoned, they begin eating fruit from trees growing in the ruins, claiming the poison would have dissipated or never existed to begin with. She is right though, and most die. Only Rebecca, David, Ruth and the mute child of the main character in "The Camp" are left.

They spot Ma'al, the youngest member of the Tsel-Khan family, as he runs away on seeing them in the woods. Coming to the farm, they realize there is food. However, traps have been set around it for preventing animals getting into the greenhouse, and David is killed.

They observe the oldest Tsel-Khan, Dlavan, and his daughter Krenn behead David's corpse, disturbing Rebecca. Unbeknownst to them, this is a sign of respect, but they cannot understand the Tsel-Khan language. The girl shows that her name is Tali by writing it on the ground.

She also figures out ways to get around the traps on the farm, and they successfully raid the greenhouse for food. The two groups clash, with both sides' members being injured. In the end, however, Rebecca realizes the aliens are not monsters, but people too. It is implied that they will now live in peace together.

The Control Voice: It is one of the great mysteries of existence, how the smallest drop of understanding can cleanse a sea of mistrust and hate.

Promised Tropes:

  • Alien Blood: The Tsal-Khan's blood is black.
  • Cassandra Truth: Rebecca warns the other humans that plants and fruits were poisoned by the aliens, but many eat them anyway. Most of them die as a result.
  • Cute Mute: Tali, who is pretty, sweet and mute.
  • Disappeared Dad: Tali's mother was killed offscreen. Her mother's lover from the previous episode, whom we presume is Tali's father, doesn't appear though, leaving his fate unknown.
  • Dwindling Party: The humans who escaped their labor camp start out with over a dozen members, but by the end only three are left.
  • Due to the Dead: In spite of him trying to steal from their farm, Krenn and Dlavan provide David with their people's funeral rites. This includes beheading his corpse though, which only reinforces Rebecca's (who's watching) belief that their kind are monsters.
  • Faeries Don't Believe in Humans, Either: This is played with in the episode. Dlavan has always told his daughter Krenn and his grandsons Ma'al and T'sha that all the humans on Earth are dead. However, it turns out that Dlavan knew from his great-grandparents that some of them were still alive in a concentration camp overseen by androids in spite of the fact that most of their people, the Tsal-Khan, left Earth 100 years earlier.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: Humanity is practically extinct twelve generations after the Tsal-Khan conquest of Earth. The few remaining former slaves who escaped from the android-run concentration camp in "The Camp" are possibly the last surviving humans. Officially, the humans attacked them even though they came with gifts and in peace, so the Tsel-Khan largely believe it was justified. Dlavan tells his daughter Krenn however that in reality their people attacked with no provocation, to conquer Earth for its resources. After this they enslaved the survivors to extract them. His great-grandparents stayed on Earth to settle out of guilt, averting this for them.
  • Humans by Any Other Name: The Tsal-Khan refer to humans as "beings."
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: Half of the episode is seen from the perspective of the Tsal-Khan family whose farm comes under attack from a group of escaped human slaves, whom they consider savages. The other half is seen from the perspective of the former slaves, who consider the Tsal-Khan to be monsters. Neither group is right.
  • Killed Offscreen: Prisoner 98843 died of unknown causes between the events of the previous installment, "The Camp", and this episode.
  • Mirroring Factions: Rebecca realizes that the Tsal-Kahn are not really monsters or that different from humanity when she's about to strike Krenn with a chair, and she covers her son Ma'al to protect him. This is the realization it takes for both sides to make peace.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Dlavan's great-grandparents disagreed with their people conquering Earth and then enslaving the humans who survived. They settled on Earth as penance after this.
  • Off with His Head!: Krenn and Dlavan perform burial rites in which they behead David's corpse to release his spirit. Naturally, this comes off as wrong to the watching Rebecca, who doesn't understand their custom or language.
  • Polluted Wasteland: The Tsal-Khan poisoned all of the plants on Earth during their war against humanity. Even twelve generations after their invasion, eating fruits or vegetables that grow naturally is usually fatal.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: The Tsal-Khan family's farm is located on the outskirts of Seattle. When Ma'al visits the ruined city, the dilapidated but still standing Space Needle is seen prominently.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Some of the very few New Masters (known as the Tsal-Khan) mentioned in "The Camp" who remained on Earth after the evacuation are seen and it is readily apparent that the stories about their appearance had been greatly exaggerated: although they are vaguely reptilian, they are the same size of humans, have two arms and their teeth don't seem to be any more or less sharp than the average human's. Given that humans are believed to have all died out, similar legends have grown up around them. T'sha teases his younger brother Ma'al by telling him that the woods are filled with humans with razor teeth and claws like hooks who hunt in packs.
  • The Speechless: Tali, who is mute but shares her name by writing it and indicating herself.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Prisoner 98843 was the protagonist of "The Camp" but was killed off prior to the events of this episode, having died of undisclosed causes in the week that passed between the two episodes. Alex, a major supporting character in "The Camp", appeared in only one scene of this episode. He died from eating irradiated fruits and plants in the vicinity of Seattle.
  • Theme Naming: Almost all of the former slaves have given names which are derived from Hebrew such as Rebecca, Tali, David, Isaac, Caleb, Ruth and Joshua. This is in keeping with the storyline's resonance with the Book of Exodus. Exceptions to the theme include Alex and Henry.
  • Translation Convention: The episode begins with the Tsal-Khan Dlavan and his grandson Ma'al speaking in their native language before it switches to English. From this point onwards, the audience hears the two of them, Krenn and T'sha, speaking in English when they are interacting with each other and speaking in their own language when they are being observed by the escaped human slaves. The Tsal-Khan language also sounds quite aggressive to human ears, which serves to make them appear all the more intimidating.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: This comes into play and gets inverted for both sides.
  • Written by the Winners: The Tsal-Khan rewrote the history of their conquest of Earth so that their descendants would view it in a more favorable light, claiming they first came in peace but humanity attacked them without provocation. In reality, it was an unprovoked attack and enslaving humanity was always their intention. The Tsal-Khan poisoned all of the plants on Earth; eating the fruit and vegetables that grow naturally is typically fatal even twelve human generations later. According to the revised version, they came in peace and freely offered the advantages of their more advanced technology. However, the humans resisted and the Tsal-Khan won the long and bitter war that followed, which resulted in the plants being poisoned. The true history was passed down to Dlavan through his great-grandparents, who were among the original Tsal-Khan settlers after they conquered had Earth.