Musings in the Dark: My Twilight Zone Tribute: S2E29


My Twilight Zone Tribute: S2E29

"The Obsolete Man"

Romney Wordsworth is a Christian librarian in a totalitarian state that has decreed books and God as obsolete.  This, of course, makes Wordsworth obsolete as well.  He is brought before the Chancellor where, after a feisty exchange, he is sentenced to death.  Wordsworth accepts his fate and is allowed to select the manner in which he will die.   Wordsworth chooses to have a bomb planted in his room, but no one--not even the Chancellor--knows about it.  The execution will be televised, as all executions are in the State.  

Wordsworth asks the Chancellor to join him in his room one hour before he is scheduled to die.  The Chancellor agrees to do so, out of curiosity.  They sit in the room and Wordsworth tells him that there is a bomb in his room, set to go off at midnight, and that the door to his room is locked.  Wordsworth tells the Chancellor that the audience will bear witness to an execution more interesting than simply him dying.  Wordsworth informs the Chancellor that the State won't risk rescuing him because it would lose face in the eyes of the people.  Then Wordsworth pulls out his illegal copy of the Bible and begins to read it in peace.  

The Chancellor, however, is in a flat-out panic.  After playing it cool for a little while, he finally breaks and begs Wordsworth to let him out “in the name of God.”  Wordsworth does so under those terms and the Chancellor runs out of the room seconds before the bomb goes off.

The next scene shows the Chancellor being led into the room where he had declared many others as “obsolete” and his former second-in-command is now the new Chancellor.  Because of his craven display and acknowledgement in God before the eyes of the public, the State has now declared the former Chancellor as obsolete.  He tries to argue that he is not and tries to escape, but he is dragged back into the room and presumably beaten to death (though that is not shown).

This is a standout episode, imho.  Burgess Meredith’s Romney Wordsworth is a quiet, dignified man who is willing to die for what he believes stark contrast to the phony Chancellor.  Definitely a must-watch.


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