Director: Allen H. Miner
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Geoffrey Horne, Nico Minardos, Cliff Osmond, Edmund Vargas, Vladimir Sokoloff, Paul Mazursky, Henry Corden, and Vito Scotti
Composer: Laurindo Almeida
Air Date: 4/27/1962
Production Code: 4830
Arriving in a small Mexican village, Williams (Geoffrey Horne)—a humanoid from another planet—accidentally kills a local police officer. Severely wounded as a result of the altercation, the alien befriends a boy named Pedro (Edmund Vargas) and prepares to hand over a valuable gift to the people of Earth—with a tragic outcome.
“The Gift” offers a modern, albeit poorly executed, interpretation of the story of Christ as detailed in the New Testament. Viewers may therefore take issue with this season-three installment, which forgoes the penetrating insight of a classic religious parable.
Fans of The Twilight Zone may enjoy this episode for its ironic twist ending, which, though borrowed from Klaatu’s arrival scene in The Day the Earth Stood Still, will likely resonate with those of a misanthropic nature. (Nevertheless, the finale of “The Gift,” which presents a veiled critique of McCarthyism, is hampered by a lack of subtlety.)
“The Gift” deserves criticism for its lackluster performances, which mar the poignant implications of Rod Serling’s narrative. Specifically, Geoffrey Horne fails to embody the gravitas of an alien visitor representing Christ himself—much in contrast to Michael Rennie, whose portrayal of Klaatu exemplifies the kindness, humility, and dignified manner that one would expect a potential savior of mankind to exhibit. Also problematic are the efforts of child actor Edmund Vargas, the character of whom comes across as extremely wooden, if not creepily so, during his interactions with the alien.
This offering contains all the ingredients for an iconic episode of The Twilight Zone: a Cold War message, a strong religious subtext, and a compelling science fiction theme. As opposed to The Day the Earth Stood Still, however, “The Gift” struggles to amalgamate the above topics in a coherent and thought-provoking fashion, instead utilizing an alien invasion premise to overtly preach on the dangers of rejecting Christ’s wisdom and repaying acts of charity with violence and hatred.
For its mediocre acting, clichéd dialogue, and failure to maintain a layer of suspense from beginning to end, “The Gift” should be avoided by the majority of science fiction buffs. Diehard Serling enthusiasts, on the other hand, may appreciate this episode for its inspiring, if overly obvious, allegory.
Overall Quality: 3/10
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