The Twilight Zone Episode 81: Nothing in the Dark

General Information

Director: Lamont Johnson

Writer: George Clayton Johnson

Cast: Gladys Cooper, Robert Redford, and R.G. Armstrong

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 1/5/1962

Production Code: 3662

 

Overview

The Twilight Zone Nothing in the DarkFearing the arrival of Mr. Death, Wanda Dunn (Gladys Cooper)—a timid, fragile woman well past her prime—refuses to open her front door under any circumstances. A terrible choice must be made, however, when police officer Harold Beldon (Robert Redford) is badly wounded right outside Wanda’s home.

Offering a superior take on the premise of “One for the Angels,” “Nothing in the Dark” conveys a valuable life lesson through poignant drama. Additionally worth praising, the acting of Gladys Cooper (whom fans of The Twilight Zone will recognize from “Night Call” and “Passage on the Lady Anne”) adds an air of delicacy and human emotion to the stubbornness of Wanda Dunn.

 

Pros

In spite of her selfish desire to remain alive long after her expiration date, the elderly woman played by Cooper succeeds in evoking sympathy from the audience. Specifically, Wanda’s expressions of sorrow mixed with terror ultimately reinforce the The Twilight Zone Nothing in the Darkvulnerable, if not pitiful, nature of a woman whose fear of death leads her to accept deplorable living conditions in perpetuity.

Viewers may also appreciate the performance of Robert Redford, whose handsome appearance and charming demeanor serve to misdirect the audience from a shocking, albeit not necessarily dreadful, twist regarding the true identity and intentions of his character.

 

Cons

None.

 

Analysis

The Twilight Zone Nothing in the DarkAs evidenced by the monologue of a duty-bound contractor (R.G. Armstrong), the actions of Wanda Dunn reflect the futility in attempting to thwart the cycle of life, death, and rebirth that occurs throughout nature on a continual basis—an important message that, though not exceptionally profound or new, may inspire comfort in those who face a similar predicament to that of Cooper’s character.

 

Concluding Comments

“Nothing in the Dark” is a thoughtful, emotionally stirring episode of The Twilight Zone. Especially well-executed are the interactions of Harold and Wanda, which may affect those with a strong sense of compassion.

 

Overall Quality: 10/10

 

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One thought on “The Twilight Zone Episode 81: Nothing in the Dark

  1. This was another TZ ep about death. Numerous episodes, whether it was about the afterlife (“The hunt”), eternal life (“Long live Walter Jamison “), or just dealing with a character about to die (” The masks”) were related in some form to death.
    “Nothing in the dark” has elderly woman Gladys who is utterly petrified of what she knows in her case is a certainty not too long away now cause of her old age and failing health. She thinks everyone who knocks on her door is Mr. Death disguising themselves as mailmen, plumbers, an officer (Robert Redford) who just got shot, and a building contractor who wants to demolish her apartment building.
    I at first was semi curious on why Gladys suspected the contractor to be Mr. Death, when she was already acknowledging how all the rest of the tenants have already moved out due to the contractors officially setting up a demolition date to tear the place down. Gladys though was still so incredibly petrified that even with clearly visible clues, she still couldn’t take any chances. Robert Redford got her doubting him also. After a LOT of encouraging, she lets Robert into her apartment and the two of them talk.

    SPOILERS BELOW

    After the contractor’s visit, and the interesting metaphor talk on how old buildings need to be torn down to put up new ones vs. the same situation with people, it’s revealed that the contractor cannot see or hear Robert (sort of a similar scene in “Pitch for the angels” when Mr. Death can’t be seen/heard by anyone except who’s accompanying him). Then, the way that Robert takes Gladys from her body and into the spirit world is very touching. He finally assures her how it was all nothing to be afraid of, he tells her “what you thought would be an explosion was really a whisper”, well said. And Gladys looks over and sees her now lifeless body on the bed, and her spirit holding hands with Robert’s, Gladys for the first time in the episode looks happy and at peace. And even though it wasn’t mentioned in words, I believe that Gladys then realized that Robert was not so much Mr. Death, but rather her guardian angel. And he was there to escort her soul from her body and into the hereafter. Gladys was at peace at last.