One of the worst things in the world is to be telling the honest to God truth, and not be believed. When you’re the only person who knows the truth about a situation can drive a person insane. It’s a feeling not many people ever experience, being the only person to know something. There are so many people in the world it’s very unlikely that something is only known by one person. So it makes sense that those few who acquire the privilege, the Twilight Zone comes along and snatches them up. They make more sense there than they do here.
After traveling 900 miles into space, the ship known as X-20 crashes back to earth. Bringing the men who flew her back down with it and putting them in the hospital. Three men went up into space and three of them returned: Colonel Forbes, Major Gart, and Colonel Harrington. Forbes returns to the hospital after being released and is unsettled. He’s antsy and has a hard time focuses on whatever Gart, who is still in the hospital, is joking with him about. Finally, when he can’t take it anymore, Forbes asks Gart a series of questions. Including who he left the hospital with the day before, but when Gart says that he didn’t leave with anyone Forbes freaks out and insists that he did leave with a person at his side. The other man in the spaceship, their friend Harrington. Gart is confused and insists back that it was just him and Forbes on the spaceship. Frustrated that Gart and the world around him has forgotten an entire person, Forbes begins to recount what happened and why he’s so upset.
Turns out, Forbes isn’t losing his mind. He did leave the hospital with someone else. The third astronaut, Harrington. The two of them went to the bar to start the celebration of being back, only just as they began to drink Harrington was overcome with a terrible feeling. He tells Forbes that he feels as if he isn’t supposed to be there anymore, as if his crashing back down on earth was a mistake and someone messed up. Forbes thinks he’s joking around until Harrington goes into the phone booth to make a call and doesn’t come back out. He’s disappeared completely. Soon enough, Forbes is spiraling down an insane journey to find anyone that can remember his friend Ed Harrington.
Mostly, I love this episode because of Rod Taylor. My favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie is The Birds. It was the first thing I ever saw Taylor in when I was about 9 or 10. Then not too long after, I watched this episode of Twilight Zone and was absolutely in love with Taylor. Both his face and his acting. His portrayal of Forbes with his sense of urgency and stifled fear is probably my favorite thing about the episode. It’s the type of story that relies heavily on Taylor to convince the audience that his panic is real. That this is really happening. And Rod Taylor does an amazing job of that.
Another reason I love this episode is that, to me, it shows that the Twilight Zone is a character itself and that it’s a flawed place. The three astronauts are being snatched back into the Zone even though they didn’t do anything wrong. They stumbled upon The Twilight Zone and then they slipped through the cracks while the Zone was busy picking through other people to ensnare. It made a mistake and hastily tried to fix it but probably only succeeded in driving three men insane. When I was younger I often wished that there had been sequel episodes in the Twilight Zone, because And When The Sky Was Opened definitely deserved one.