The Twilight Zone Episode 24: Long Live Walter Jameson

Technical Specs

Director: Tony Leader

Writer: Charles Beaumont

Cast: Kevin McCarthy, Edgar Stehli, Estelle Winwood, and Dody Heath

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 3/18/1960

Production Code: 173-3621

 

Overview

Having apparently remained the same age for twelve years, Professor Walter Jameson (Kevin McCarthy)—a lecturer on Civil War history—is confronted bythe-twilight-zone-long-live-walter-jameson his future father-in-law, Sam Kittridge (Edgar Stehli). Walter admits that he had obtained immortality from an alchemist over two thousand years ago, but refuses to break off his engagement despite the misery endured from repeatedly losing those he loved.

It should be noted that the consequences of eternal life had already been covered in previous episodes of The Twilight Zone (e.g. “Escape Clause”). That being said, “Long Live Walter Jameson” should be commended for examining Charles Beaumont’s central thesis with the solemnity that it deserves.

 

Pros

A general lack of suspense or excitement prior to the climactic scene may, at times, try the patience of science fiction enthusiasts with a limited attention span. Nevertheless, a languid approach to pacing allows sufficient time to acquaint viewers with the-twilight-zone-long-live-walter-jamesonthe extraordinary—along with the surprisingly mundane—experiences, revelations, and character traits unique to Walter Jameson. Notably, Walter’s recollection of obscure Civil War details will captivate the interest of audiences young and old; yet, on the other hand, a life spanning thousands of years has failed to grant Walter a body of knowledge greater than that of an average man—likely a result of the human inability to retain knowledge beyond a certain point, regardless of one’s age.

 

Cons

None.

 

Analysis

the-twilight-zone-long-live-walter-jamesonAs opposed to the aforementioned “Escape Clause” from earlier in season one, “Long Live Walter Jameson” offers a serious exploration of immortality and the philosophical ramifications thereof. Specifically, Walter’s conversation with Sam indicates that perpetual existence would carry with it an amount of tedium, suffering, and personal loss that the human mind is ill equipped to process; therefore, as evidenced by Sam’s change of heart after speaking with Walter, Beaumont’s narrative suggests that fear of death should be considered an irrational, albeit entirely natural, response to the inevitable.

 

Concluding Comments

Though occasionally slow-moving, “Long Live Walter Jameson” contains a thought-provoking study on human attitudes concerning mortality. Fans of The Twilight Zone are thus advised to view this episode for its substantive discussion on the only certain outcome of life.

 

Overall Quality: 10/10

 

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2 thoughts on “The Twilight Zone Episode 24: Long Live Walter Jameson

  1. The pacing is slow (but then again, by 2015 standards, the pacing is slow on every TZ episode), but as you referred, this matches the serious tone of the episode. It is well acted and thought provoking. It’s kind of boring on repeated viewings, but the first viewing had a somber impact.

  2. I love this episode. Even though there’s not much for special effects until the end, the dialogue is great. Walter’s fiance’s dad Sam invites him for dinner, and we soon see his primary reason for this particular invitation. Sam’s been getting quietly suspicious of Walter’s age between Walter never mentioning exactly how old he was, his apparently never looking older in the 12 years they’ve known each other, and the particular way he teaches his history class and the way he talks about a civil war major Hugh Skelton.

    After eating, Sam sends his daughter/ Walter’s fiance upstairs and we see that him wanting her to study was only part of the reason. Sam, already getting suspicious like I said, opens a civil war book, looks up the major Hugh Skelton that Walter seemed to know so much about, and finds Walter’s photograph which was taken during the civil war, and that he was Hugh Skelton. Sam’s got Walter cornered and he spills the truth about his real age, he is over 2000 years old. Sam is shocked , amazed, and begs Walter to tell more which he does. This is where the best dialogue of the episode is, with Walter explaining about the alchemist that gave him eternal life and what it’s really like having it. Sam mentionins being very jealous of Walter and that’s he’s scared of death. Walter doesn’t fully understand Sam’s jealousy and fear even though he had it himself long ago, which is why he went to the alchemist, but 2000 years later one’s views can change. I like Walter’s philosophy about death giving life its meaning and saying “you love a rose because you know it will soon be gone, whoever loved a stone?” Walter also tells about his past guises, one being Hugh Skelton. A old wife of his from another guise he had sometime in the early 20th century, Tommy, has tracked him down, is now elderly and waiting outside his house waiting to confront him, which she does. She makes a point about how cruel it’s been to marry and then down the road just leave her. Sam also sees this as a bad thing to do and realizes now that he’ll do the same thing to his daughter eventually, and tells him he won’t have him marry her now. It’s an interesting thing, it’s not a good thing to do to someone, but if you’ve been given eternal life, it seems your only options would be to either do that or never get married. It makes you think. The ending has the visuals and a twist. Very intriguing episode and one of my top ten.