Every weekday, we’re going to review an episode of Rod Serling’s classic sci-fi/horror TV series “The Twilight Zone“. We’re starting from the beginning and we will be working our way through every episode the series has offered, including the episodes from the 80’s. You can see all the reviews right here.
“The Purple Testament” – Directed by Richard L. Bare
Broadcast date: February 12th, 1960
The story here follows Lieutenant William “Fitz” Fitzgerald, a World War II soldier stationed in the Philippines. Fitz’s awful gift is that he can “see” who is going to die by looking at their faces and seeing the light change around them. It’s a power that haunts him, one that tears at his soul because he knows who will die when he sends men out on a patrol or a mission. This power extends outside of the battlefield as well. When he visits one of his wounded soldiers, he sees the light change and moments later the young man is dead, seemingly for no reason.
Later, Fitz is told that he is being picked up to go to division headquarters to get some rest as his peers and commanding officers see his belief in his ability as a sign of fatigue. Getting prepared for the journey, Fitz looks into a mirror and sees the strange light on his own face. As he gets into the jeep that was sent to pick him up, he sees the same strange light on the face of the driver. Accepting his fate, Fitz sits back and they drive off into the distance. Moments later, the men at the camp hear the sound of an explosion in the distance, a sound they ponder upon for a few seconds but then ignore as this has become a normal sonic backdrop to their daily lives.
It’s not a bad episode but it really failed to hold my attention. The ability to foretell death is an interesting concept but this episode didn’t bring in the level of humanity and personal anguish that I’m used to seeing. They tried, I’ll give them that, but it simply wasn’t able to be conveyed with the same intensity and gravity as in episodes such as “The Fever”, “Perchance to Dream”, or “Time Enough at Last”.
While war is a horrifying ordeal that I would never wish upon any person or country, I can’t deny that it makes for some amazing storylines. There are many ways “The Twilight Zone” could’ve utilized such a foundation for something meaningful and inspired but it felt like this episode was whipped together almost haphazardly. It’s an episode that I will most likely forget after a few weeks, which is a shame. Then again, they can’t all be winners.
Side note: the same house that Barbara Trenton from “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine” lived in was used in this episode. Just something I noticed and found interesting/cool.