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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 1 E 19 The Purple Testament

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Rod Serling: Infantry Platoon, U.S. Army, Philippine Islands, 1945. These are the faces of the young men who fight, as if some omniscient painter had mixed a tube of oils that were at one time earth brown, dust gray, blood red, beard black, and fear yellow-white, and these men were the models. For this is the province of combat, and these are the faces of war.

Air date: Feb. 12, 1960

William Fitzgerald is a Lieutenant serving in the U.S Army in the Philippines in World War II. After an action in which four of his men are killed, "Fitz" is particularly disturbed. His solicitous CO, Capt. Riker (Dick York) asks what's the matter. It turns out that Fitzgerald wrote down the names of the four men who were going to die—in advance. He has mysteriously gained the ability to see oncoming death on faces of his comrades, in the form of a shining light.

Rod Serling: From William Shakespeare, Richard III,note  a small excerpt. The line reads, 'He has come to open the purple testament of bleeding war.' And for Lieutenant William Fitzgerald, A Company, First Platoon, the testament is closed. Lieutenant Fitzgerald has found the Twilight Zone.

The Purple Tropes:

  • Blessed with Suck: Seeing those who will die is not the greatest power in the world, that's for sure. Fitzgerald is becoming increasingly stressed over his "gift".
  • The Chains of Commanding: Being a squad leader watching your men die in combat is bad enough, but when you know in advance who will die...
  • Chromosome Casting: Given its military theme, this episode has an all-male cast.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: In the end of the episode, before Fitzgerald is sent away from from the camp for much needed rest, he sees the light on his face in the mirror...
  • Downer Ending: On his way to heading to division, Fitzgerald and Dougherty are killed by a land mine.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Poor Captain Riker has already been told he's going to die by Fitz, which is why he takes the photos of his wife and children out of his pocket and leaves them behind in the tent.
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  • Foreshadowing: The sergeant warns the jeep driver Dougherty that the road back hasn't been swept for land mines.
  • Heroic BSoD: Once he sees the light on his own face in the mirror, Fitzgerald becomes resigned and distant, knowing his time is coming.
  • Impairment Shot: Fitz before and after he faints in the hospital, after seeing the light on the face of a wounded man and realizing the man won't make it.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Riker, seeing Fitzgerald's distress after combat, offers him some liquor. This is when Fitzgerald confesses his gift.
  • It's Probably Nothing: In the final scene, sometime later after Fitzgerald left the camp, the sergeant and some soldiers are lounging around, until they hear an explosion in the distance...
    Sergeant: Did you hear that?
    Soldier: Thunder?
    Sergeant: I don't think so, it sounded like an explosion. Maybe it was thunder, yeah... yeah that's what it was, probably thunder...
  • Killed Offscreen: Captain Riker and later on... Fitzgerald himself.
  • Light Is Not Good: A mysterious light appears over the faces of those who will die.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Fitzgerald, after seeing the fatal light on his own face in the mirror, shatters the glass.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: After seeing the light on his face, Fitzgerald is in the jeep and sees the light on the driver Dougherty's face as well.
    Dougherty: Lieutenant you may as well get comfortable, I guess we got about a four hour ride ahead of us.
    Fitzgerald: (seeing the light on his face) Dougherty....I doubt it...
  • Tuckerization: One of the members of Fitzgerald's company is named Denault. He is named after the assistant director Edward Denault.
  • War Is Hell: The Colonel utters this after Fitzgerald's friend Riker dies, leaving his now-widow wife and sons behind.
    Colonel: So much for Mrs. Riker's lovely wedding... seven happy years... two fine, war stinks.
  • Wedding Ring Removal: Captain Riker leaves behind his wedding ring along with his Fatal Family Photos after Fitzgerald predicts Riker's death in the impending attack.
  • You Are Already Dead: When the light appears over your face, make sure to notify your next of kin.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: There's no avoiding death once you've seen the light.