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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 1 E 20 Elegy

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Rod Serling: The time is the day after tomorrow. The place: a far corner of the universe. The cast of characters: three men, lost amongst the stars, three men sharing the common urgency of all men lost - they're looking for home. And in a moment, they'll find home, not a home that is a place to be seen but a strange, unexplainable experience to be felt.

Air date: Feb. 19, 1960

In the year 2186, three astronauts land on an asteroid orbiting two suns. On the asteroid, everything looks like mid-20th century America, only all the people there are frozen in place. Realizing that they can't leave the asteroid without fuel for their ship, they know they have to settle in this disturbing place. While moving through the town they finally encounter someone that moves and talks: Mr. Wickwire, the human-appearing robot caretaker of the asteroid. He explains that the asteroid was created as a place of peace, a graveyard where those who could afford it could "experience" the dreams they couldn't achieve in life, like being elected mayor or winning a beauty contest. A genial host, Mr. Wickwire serves the astronauts drinks while asking them about the news from Earth. They explain that there was an atomic war in 1985, and that Earth is still rebuilding. Mr. Wickwire asks them about their greatest desire, and the astronauts agree that what they want most is to return to earth in their ship. Then, as they begin to fall to the floor, they realize that they've been poisoned and ask Wickwire why he's doing this.

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Mr Wickwire explains that "As long as there are men, there can be no peace."

The last shot is of Wickwire arranging their dead but preserved bodies outside their ship, complete with a flag, achieving in death the dream they did not achieve in life.

Rod Serling: Kirby, Webber, and Meyers, three men lost. They shared a common wish, a simple one, really - they wanted to be aboard their ship, headed for home. And Fate, a laughing Fate, a practical jokester with a smile that stretched across the stars, saw to it that they got their wish, with just one reservation: The wish came true, but only in the Twilight Zone.


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Contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Name Change: In the short story, the caretaker of the cemetery asteroid and the most rational crewman are named Mr. Greypoole and Mr. Friden respectively. In the television adaptation, their names are Jeremy Wickwire and Professor Kurt Meyers.
  • Adaptation Species Change: In the short story, the caretaker Mr. Greypoole is a human who became a cyborg after being augmented with artificial parts to restore his health and keep him alive for centuries. In the television adaptation, his counterpart Jeremy Wickwire is a robot.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: After hearing that the entire asteroid is designed to serve as a mausoleum for people to achieve their greatest wishes in death, Wickwire asks what the astronauts' own deepest request would be. They tell him that they want to return home...and he arranges to grant the wish through some potent poison.
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  • Binary Suns: The cemetery asteroid Happy Glades' star system has two suns.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The three astronauts are poisoned to death by Wickwire, but they get what they desired in the end, as he arranges their bodies to be in their ship, heading for home.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Wickwire's explanation of the asteroid.
    Wickwire: We have many sections. There's the Roman, the Egyptian, the Wild Western, but this is the most popular because it represents a period in American culture when creature comforts were most abundant and before peace on Earth became impossible.
  • Chromosome Casting: This episode does not feature any speaking roles for women.
  • Composite Character: Peter Kirby is a composite of four characters from the short story: Lt. Peterson, Chitterwick, Goeblin and Milton.
  • Creepy Cemetery: The entire asteroid turns out to be one, colonized by the Happy Glades Mortuary in 1973. It's less dark and misty and more a serious case of Uncanny Valley, where rich people can live out their greatest fantasies. Forever.
    Meyers: In other words, this is the place where your dreams come true after you've stopped dreaming.
  • Freak Out!: Kirby finally loses it when in the beauty pageant exhibit.
    Kirby: Your majesty, I don't blame the judges. You're the prettiest of them all, but tell me something your majesty...what's wrong with you? WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYBODY IN THIS CRAZY PLACE? Answer me! Can't you talk? Can't you move? Answer me!
  • Freudian Trio: Kirby is emotional, Meyers is logical and reasoning, and Captain Webber leads and balances the two.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Wickwire's rationale for poisoning the three astronauts. Just take a look at his quote.
  • Irony: The astronauts crash land on an asteroid which is basically a cemetery. With no way to escape or anyway to return home, they end up dying and being the new exhibits.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: After the three astronauts land on the unexplored asteroid and find the eerie area to be filled with deserted buildings and mannequins, they decide to split up and search the place, which is a really bad idea that trained astronauts should never have even considered.
  • Lost Common Knowledge: When the astronauts first arrive on the asteroid, they land at a farm and start exploring. Kirby and Webber both seem confused by the presence of a machine, which Meyers explains is called a tractor, a machine that was in use on Earth before "the total war", which we can assume is World War III.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Wickwire's been running the Happy Glades Mortuary since 1973, which was over 200 years ago in-universe. He looks pretty good for two centuries.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Wickwire, who is a perfect imitation of a kindly, middle-aged man.
  • Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: It's stated at the beginning that the astronauts are lost and 655 million miles away from Earth. That would put them well within the solar system, somewhere around the orbit of Saturn, yet they're in an entirely different star system with two suns.
  • Stealth Pun: The astronauts' final destination is a cemetery asteroid. They've reached a dead end on their journey.
  • Time Stands Still: One theory as to what's happened to everyone the astronauts find.
  • World War III: According to Meyers, there was an atomic war in 1985 and it's taken over 200 years for humanity to pick up the pieces.
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