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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 5 E 130 The7th Is Made Up Of Phantoms

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1876: Three of General Custer's men find a recently abandoned Sioux dwelling on the plain and try to go back to warn their commander.

1964: A trio from the Montana Army National guard (Master Sgt. William Connors, Pvt. Michael McCluskey, Cpl. Richard Langsford) are on patrol in their tank out in Montana near the Little Big Horn monument, but they take a wrong turn and the tank stalls. One of them remarks they're in the area where the Little Big Horn "battle" took place. The youngest, McCluskey, knows nothing, but Connors turns out to be a history buff, explaining how Custer divided up his men, hoping to ambush a small group of Sioux, only the Sioux to have vastly superior numbers and slaughter the men. Wandering in the direction of base, they find the same wigwam from 1886...in remarkably good shape, as is a canteen from the 7th Regiment. They also hear distant sounds of horses and Sioux war cries. While the sergeant and McCluskey are unsettled, Langsford thinks they've both gone crazy. When they return from patrol, Conners tries to report what happened, and gets a reprimand from his CO, who is of the same opinion as Langsford.

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The following day the trio goes out and again experiences strange phenomena, hearing horses and sounds of battle. The captain contacts them via radio and orders them to return to base when Connors tries to explain what is happening. Connors breaks contact and the captain sends his lieutenant and two men to bring them in. However, the tank crew abandon their tank and continue on foot with their sidearms and rifles. They find a small village and McCluskey goes to investigate. He soon returns with an arrow protruding from his back. The three men climb a ridge where they see a battle - the battle - taking place below. Drawing their weapons, they decide that they have no better option than to charge in.

In the present day, the lieutenant reports to base. the tank was abandoned, but no sign of the men. The captain goes towrite them up on report, but passes by the Custer memorial and sees three names that he swears weren't there before - William Connors, Michael McCluskey, Richard Langsford. The captain just shakes his head and grumbles that it's a pity his soldiers couldn't have taken the tank with them into the fight.

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Tropes:

  • Cassandra Truth: Yes, the explanation was strange. It was unfortunately accurate.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: McCluskey is a white Army man walking into a Sioux encampment. This inevitably results.
  • Mildly Military: When the MP lieutenant and the Captain interact, neither salute before or after their talk. Since they are National Guardsmen, it can be somewhat excused.
  • Stable Time Loop: the soldiers are trapped in it and cannot change events.
  • Too Dumb to Live: All three of them.
    • A white Army guy walking into a Sioux village alone and unarmed. Yeah. Great idea.
    • If you realize you're witnessing a historical bloodbath, the smart idea isn't to walk in guns blazing.
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