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Recap / The Outer Limits 1995 S 4 E 22 Balance Of Nature

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The Control Voice: It is perhaps the central paradox of our existence… to be alive is to be aware of our mortality. Life is, by definition, a terminal disease.

Dr. Noah Philips is working on a device he calls the Cellular Regressor, which should rejuvenate a subject's cells and restore their youth. His wife Meredith has cancer, and eventually goes into a coma. Even though he hasn't tested the device, he sneaks into her hospital room and uses it on her. Her cancer regresses and she wakes up, oblivious to what has happened, asking if she overslept. Noah joyfully hugs her. Unfortunately, her cancer comes back a few minutes later and becomes extremely severe, and Meredith dies a painful death in Noah's arms.

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Disgusted by his recklessness, Noah's superiors fire him. Meredith's family sues him for her death, but after a bit of a legal battle, decides not to press charges.

Devastated by Meredith's death, Noah moves to a small town and attempts to figure out what went wrong with his device. He tests it on various small animals, but they keep dying. An elderly woman named Barbara Matheson befriends him and welcomes him to the neighborhood, but her abusive husband Greg is hostile to him and orders him to stay away from his wife, believing Noah will try to steal her and ignoring his protests that he's not interested in an old woman.

Noah and Barbara spend time together whenever Greg is not around. Barbara makes excuses for her husband, saying Greg is angry that younger men keep getting the promotions he wants. The more time they spend together, Noah finds himself falling for the kind woman, despite her age. Barbara's comment about a "balance of nature" gives him inspiration. He adjusts his device so that it can transfer life from one being to another. He tests it on an old and young frog and it works. The old frog becomes young and the young frog becomes old, without any side effects he can see.

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Noah finds that Greg has beaten Barbara within an inch of her life. She is dying and he does not have enough time to take her to the hospital. He decides to use his device to transfer his youth to Barbara. He turns into an old man and she reverts to a beautiful young woman, healed of her injuries. However, she has lost her memories and thinks it is 1957, scared and confused by her surroundings. Noah comforts her and starts to explain what is going on.

Greg bursts in and holds them at gunpoint. Having seen what the device can do, he orders Noah to make him young again by transferring his remaining life to him, which would obviously kill Noah. Noah outsmarts him by instead transferring Greg's life to him, killing Greg and turning Noah back into a young man. Noah loses his memories of Barbara and thinks it is mere moments after Meredith's death, devastating him. Barbara comforts him and starts to explain what happened, indicating they will start their relationship over.

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The Control Voice: Philosophers and poets concur on one fundamental truth… love will find a way, it’s just a matter of time.

Balance of Tropes:

  • Domestic Abuse: Greg Matheson physically and verbally abuses his wife Barbara.
  • Fountain of Youth: Dr. Noah Phillips developed a cellular regressor which can, in theory, rejuvenate cells and return the subject to their youth. When he uses the device on his wife Meredith who is in the last stages of terminal skin cancer, she is initially restored to perfect health with has no memory of the last 17 months. However, within less than a minute, the process reverses and kills her. Noah is fired and narrowly avoids a manslaughter charge. He resumed his work in secret about a year later. His attempt to regress a frog results in it reverting to a tadpole but it soon dies in the same fashion as Meredith. After his new neighbor Barbara Matheson refers to the balance of nature, he realizes that he must create a natural equilibrium; in order for one organism to regress in age, another must become older in tandem. He goes over to Barbara's house to tell her the good news but finds her barely alive on the floor, having been beaten severely by her husband Greg. As she is bleeding internally, he doubts that she will survive long enough for him to bring her to a hospital so he uses the cellular regressor on her. The 65-year-old Barbara regresses in age about 40 years so that she is once again a jazz singer in her early 20s named Barbara Spencer (with the stage name of Barbara Dumont). She is under the impression that it is 1957 and that she is engaged to Greg, a kind, sweet man. She does not initially believe Noah, who has aged in tandem, when he tells her that it is 1998 and her youth has been restored but she is convinced when he shows her a photograph of her marriage to Greg. It turns out that Greg has been secretly observing them and wants Noah to restore his youth. However, he doesn't believe Noah when he says that the polarity reverses each time that the transfer is made and sits in the wrong chair. As a result, Greg ages to death while Noah is restored to his youth, having lost all memory of everything that has happened since Meredith's death. Barbara takes care of him and it is suggested that the two of them will live happily ever after.
  • Traveling Salesman: Greg Matheson.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: This comes up when Greg Matheson abuses his wife Barbara.
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