episode #092 - Person or Persons Unknown

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episode #092 - Person or Persons Unknown

Post  BoG on Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:38 pm

Air Date: 3/23/62  Arrow  written by Charles Beaumont  Arrow  Director: John Brahm

PLOT: a man (Richard Long) wakes up after a late night bender and comes to realize that none of his acquaintances (even his wife) know who he is. This is my favorite TZ episode; I've seen it so many times that my appreciation for it may have been dulled, but it's still tops with me. Why? Yes, why? Why, why, why?
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It finally occurred to me that this one touches well upon one of the fundamental 'truths' of existence and presents this to us more effectively than any other TV show: each of us - the individual - is ultimately alone in this universe. We distract ourselves with such notions as family, friends and neighbors, but all this is, in the end, irrelevant. The individual is ALL - and with this revelation, comes both the good and the bad. Here is the bad. Chilling? Scary? That's the Zone at its best. It does not pull its punches.
I wonder if this is why some viewers do not like this episode. Do these principles, outlined above, produce a subconsciously uncomfortable reaction? I don't really know - I'm not a psychiatrist, as the character of Dr. Koslenko here. This episode is kin to "A World of Difference," another reason perhaps some might downgrade this; it's too similar to the earlier episode. But, I think this one improves on the concept; it's more incisive and penetrating. The later "Wordplay" in the eighties show presented a similar scenario. There was also an entire series, Nowhere Man, in the nineties.

I'm also a huge fan of the writing, direction and acting in this one. The earlier scenes of Gurney (Richard Long) going through the motions of his supposedly still-normal existence, through the scenes at the bank, are the kind that I can watch over & over; all the supporting bits are done perfectly. It's a mystery and a puzzle, wrapped in a riddle, challenging us on the question of identity. This also raises many questions, among them -- what is identity and why? Why is this happening to Gurney? The story doesn't provide an answer, forcing us to speculate on our own (individually).

Perhaps some cosmic being or beings are experimenting with Gurney, just for the purpose of studying his reactions. One clue is the photograph near the end; it seems like someone or something slipped up a bit on the photo and quickly corrected the error. Or, this is just a cosmic accident - Gurney has slipped into a parallel Earth, one where he was never born. Or... he is insane (but how would he know details, such as the names of all the people at the bank? -  maybe some of those people in asylums aren't really crazy, huh?).  

I also didn't expect the ending when I first watched this many years ago. My first thought was 'OK, he woke up, it's just a bad dream' - which was the standard ending I was accustomed to from TV back then. But, this is the Zone - it piles on that additional twist. Which is worse, the first or second scenario? I prefer the 2nd one slightly - if this happened to me; at least, in that one, others would know me and I would just have to get used to the new faces. Of course, another reality shift might happen - what would that one be like?  BoG's Score: 9.5 out of 10
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