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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 2 E 53 Twenty Two

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Rod Serling: This is Miss Liz Powell. She's a professional dancer and she's in the hospital as a result of overwork and nervous fatigue. And at this moment we have just finished walking with her in a nightmare. In a moment she'll wake up and we'll remain at her side. The problem here is that both Miss Powell and you will reach a point where it might be difficult to decide which is reality and which is nightmare, a problem uncommon perhaps but rather peculiar to the Twilight Zone.
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Air date: February 10, 1961

The episode opens on a young blonde woman sleeping in a hospital bed; after a few moments, a loudly-ticking clock awakens her. The woman reaches for a glass of water on the nightstand, only to accidentally break it. Immediately following the crashing glass, the sound of loud footsteps echoes from the hallway; the woman gets out of bed and follows them, spotting a nurse disappearing into an elevator. She runs after the nurse and gets out on the lower floors of the hospital, where a pair of swinging doors is labeled with the number twenty-two and the word "MORGUE." As the woman stares in horror, the nurse emerges and, with a creepy grin, intones "Room for one more, honey." The blonde woman screams in fear and rushes into the elevator, while Rod Serling appears to provide the episode's narration.

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The next morning, the audience learns that the blonde woman is one Liz Powell, an "exotic dancer" (read: stripper) who's been hospitalized for exhaustion and overwork. Liz speaks with her visiting agent and doctor about the previous evening's events. It seems that the whole incident was one of many dreams that she has been having; the details of the dream are always the same, and Liz feels compelled to act them out no matter what. The doctor summarily dismisses the nightmare as meaning anything, bringing in the actual night nurse to prove his point—this woman looks nothing like the mysterious woman in the morgue. But Liz is not convinced, so the doctor suggests a new tactic: breaking the pattern of the dream and thus escaping its power. Liz reluctantly agrees to give it a try.

That evening, Liz hears the ticking clock and almost reaches for the glass of water, but stops herself. After a few moments, the footsteps do not sound, and the dancer breathes a sigh of relief. She decides to reward herself with a cigarette from a pack sitting on the nightstand, but as she goes to get it, the glass breaks again. The rest of the dream plays out as it always does, and Liz goes into a further state of panic. The next morning, the doctor is disappointed to hear that the plan did not work, although he has come to a realization—it's remarkably odd that Liz correctly identified Room Twenty-Two as the hospital morgue, as she's never seen it, and no one has even mentioned it to her.

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The episode cuts ahead to a few months later. A fully-recovered Liz is standing in an airport, waiting to fly to Miami Beach. As she picks up her ticket, the agent informs her that she'll be on Flight 22, which spooks her. As she tries to calm down, a clock on the wall begins echoing in her ears, and in her distressed state, she inadvertently bumps into a woman carrying a vase. The vase falls to the ground, and makes the exact same sound as the shattering glass in the dream. The panicked Liz nevertheless slowly walks toward the plane (in a single long shot), across the tarmac, and up the stairs...where a stewardess who looks identical to the morgue nurse emerges and, with that same horrible smile, remarks "Room for one more, honey."

Liz screams at the top of her lungs, rushes back down the stairs, and collapses inside the airport, sobbing. The stewardess looks on with a calm expression and pulls the door of the plane shut. As concerned patrons rush to comfort Liz, Flight 22 makes its way down the tarmac...and suddenly, violently explodes, killing everyone on board, proving that Liz's dream was not merely a nightmare, but a psychic warning that prevented her own death.


Room For More Tropes, Honey:

  • Arc Words: "Room for one more, honey..." uttered by the phantom nurse/flight attendant numerous times throughout the episode.
  • Bittersweet Ending: A good deal of people died on that airplane, but in the very least, Liz (being the only one who didn't board) narrowly evaded death.
  • Cassandra Truth: The doctor thinks that Liz's dream is nothing more than a symptom of her stress. It's downplayed, though, as neither he nor anyone in the hospital is in any sort of danger; the psychic warning is specifically for Liz, and she ends up avoiding getting on the flight anyway.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Of a sort—while Liz does survive, everyone else on Flight 22 is killed.
  • Dirty Old Man: The doctor is very lecherous, telling Liz that she makes an old doctor wish that he were a young intern. He then laughs creepily. As she is leaving the hospital, he says that he hopes that she will be performing the next time that he sees her and that she will throw a wink in his direction.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: The entire plot of the episode—Liz's recurring nightmare is actually a premonition that helps her avoid death.
  • Evil Is Sexy: The morgue nurse/stewardess who keeps beckoning Liz to her death is an extremely attractive young woman. Liz comments on her beauty, despite being terrified of her.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Liz has a tiny leopard toy with her at all times while she's in the hospital.
  • The Grim Reaper: One possible interpretation of the mysterious stewardess, as she's present in two areas linked to death, and seems not entirely human.
  • Insistent Terminology: Liz's agent Barney Kamener refers to her as a stripper, and she immediately corrects him—she's a dancer.
  • Kubrick Stare: The nurse/stewardess repeatedly gives this to Liz.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: As is typical for The Twilight Zone, we never discover why Liz suddenly developed Psychic Powers, or even who the mysterious nurse is. It's just a horrific event with no logical explanation.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: It's not clear if what happens to Liz every night in the hospital actually is a dream, or is actually occurring as she lives it.
  • Pet the Dog: As usual, the doctor in the hospital tries to explain away the psychic dream as nothing more than a delusion. However, he does admit that Liz's knowing that Room Twenty-Two is the morgue seems far too impossible to be a coincidence, implying that he's giving some credence to a possibly supernatural explanation.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Subverted. While we're glad that Liz survives the fiery explosion thanks to her psychic dream, the death of everyone else on board Flight 22 is not ignored: everyone who sees it reacts in horror, and it's clear that they're distressed over the loss.
  • Real After All: Turns out Liz's dreams weren't just delusions.
  • Society Marches On:
    • With a bit of Values Dissonance for good measure: Liz is seen smoking in her hospital bed. These days, the idea of anyone smoking anywhere near a hospital is absurd.
    • The doctor's comments towards Liz are uncomfortable at best and lecherous at worst. The first thing he says to her is that she's beautiful, and when she's leaving he says he hopes to see her on stage during a strip show. This behavior could be seen as on par with sexual harassment nowadays.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Who in all of creation is the stewardess/nurse? She's shown closing the plane door as Liz runs away, which means that she died, too—if she could die at all, that is.

Rod Serling: Miss Elizabeth Powell, professional dancer. Hospital diagnosis: acute anxiety brought on by overwork and fatigue. Prognosis: with rest and care, she'll probably recover. But the cure to some nightmares is not to be found in known medical journals. You look for it under 'potions for bad dreams' - to be found in the Twilight Zone.
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