Musings in the Dark: My Twilight Zone Tribute: S4E16


My Twilight Zone Tribute: S4E16

 "On Thursday We Leave For Home"

William Benteen is the head of a settlement on the remote planet V9-Gamma.  The settlement was set up in 1991, but after 30 long, hard years under a double sun system, the members of the settlement are ready to go back to Earth.  Benteen, who is referred to as Captain Benteen, has kept the settlement together through sheer will and faith, and he rules with an iron fist in a velvet glove.  Benteen, who was 15 when the settlement was established, is often asked to tell stories about the Earth as he remembered it.  His stories are idyllic and paint Earth as perfect.

When the story opens the settlement has received word that a spaceship is on their way to pick them up and take them home.  When the ship arrives, Colonel Sloane tells the members of the settlement that they have three days to get ready before they leave for Earth.  The settlers are happy and ecstatic, especially when Colonel Sloane and his crew talk about modern Earth.  Benteen sees his influence over the settlement dwindling and he and Sloane begin to butt heads.  Sloane tells him to let go, to relinquish control; that he doesn’t have to do it anymore and Benteen counters by demanding that Sloane and his men segregate themselves from the settlement so that he can retain control.

Things come to a head when Benteen tells Sloane that he plans to petition the US government for a land grant so that the settlement can stay together when they get home.  Sloane is appalled that Benteen likens the members of the settlement to children who are incapable of making decisions for themselves.  He tells Benteen that he needs to talk to the settlers and ask them what they want.  Benteen learns that the colonists have decided to settle in different states and do not want to remain together as a group.  Benteen accuses Sloane of negatively influencing the colonists and Sloane counters with the colonists being adults who can think for themselves.  

Benteen attempts to influence the settlers to stay on V9-Gamma by characterizing the Earth as a place of hardship and violence and they didn’t belong there.  By this point, Sloane has had enough of Benteen’s bullshit and tells the settlers that while Earth isn’t perfect, they can live their lives as they choose to.  Everyone but Benteeen chooses to go home.  Upset by this, Benteen grabs a random-ass pipe and attacks Sloane’s ship only to be stopped by Sloane and his men (and boy I laughed my ass off when Sloane tackled Benteen).  Benteen informs Sloane that he will remain on V9-Gamma all by himself.

When it is time to leave, Benteen hides out in the cave while the colonists board the ship.  Sloane and another member of the settlement, Al, go looking for Benteen but can’t find him.  As the ship takes off, Benteen begins to tell another story about the beauty of Earth and realizes he does indeed want to go home.  He runs out of the cave, screaming for the ship to come back for him, but it is too late.  He’s all alone.

This is one of my favorite episodes of the hour-long version.  Benteen, played by James Whitmore, is one of the best characters of the entire series, imho.  He was so used to being in power that he couldn’t bear to lose it, to his own detriment.  He didn’t know how to let go and it likely caused him his sanity, because I don’t see how he could keep it, being all alone on a remote planet with no hope of rescue.  Idiot. 

1 comment:

  1. EXACTLY! I could not imagine being stranded on a planet by my damn self.


Thanks for commenting. Please be sure to leave a name; I like to know who I am talking to.