Director: John Brahm
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Rod Serling, Vera Miles, Martin Milner, Joe Hamilton, Naomi Stevens, Terese Lyon, Ferris Taylor, and Edwin Rand
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 2/26/1960
Production Code: 173-3623
Upon spotting an exact duplicate of herself, Millicent Barnes (Vera Miles) believes she may be going insane. After experiencing the same phenomenon more than once, Millicent concludes that her malevolent doppelgänger from a parallel universe has been stalking her—an observation that she reveals to fellow traveler Paul Grinstead (Martin Milner) of Binghamton.
An intriguing piece of experimental television, “Mirror Image” benefits from Vera Miles’ convincing portrayal of a paranoid but sympathetic young woman. Also commendable, a deserted bus station creates a chilling manifestation of Millicent’s mental isolation and will therefore appeal to fans of psychological horror.
By expressing authentic dismay when confronted with a haunting image of her own face, the protagonist will undoubtedly evoke compassion from those of a sensitive inclination. Additionally harrowing is the fact that Millicent’s claims remain unconfirmed by others in her vicinity, thereby forcing viewers to question if such “episodes” can truly be attributed to mental illness alone.
On a less remarkable note, a grumpy ticket agent (Joe Hamilton) eases the surrounding tension with his amusing quips and jabs directed at Millicent. By responding abrasively whenever prodded by the incessant inquiries of a distressed woman, the aforementioned ticket agent provides a great deal of well-timed comic relief; however, it should be noted that certain audiences may struggle to find any humor in the mean-spirited retorts of a despicable old fart.
Similar to “And When the Sky Was Opened,” “Mirror Image” serves as a testament to Rod Serling’s innovative use of concepts that would later influence the science fiction genre in ways that cannot be overstated. By employing a narrative in which two realities intersect with frightening consequences (an early example of the parallel universe trope), the late teleplay writer once again demonstrated his ability to comment on the human condition while relying exclusively upon themes of an extraordinary nature.
Despite ending on a weak note, “Mirror Image” contains enough material to satisfy science fiction and horror enthusiasts alike. A spooky atmosphere will likewise satisfy fans of The Twilight Zone who prefer a subtle creep factor over monster-of-the-week shenanigans.
Overall Quality: 9/10
This review is dedicated to Martin Milner, who passed away last week at the age of 83.
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