Director: Boris Sagal
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Harold J. Stone, Fredd Wayne, Noah Keene, Robert Karnes, Bing Russell, and Jim Boles
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 9/22/1961
Production Code: 4814
When a DC-3 aircraft makes a safe landing with no passengers aboard, Grant Sheckly (Harold J. Stone)—an inspector with 22 years of experience—is called to investigate. With the aid of Robbins (Robert Karnes), George Cousins (Bing Russell), Paul Malloy (Fredd Wayne), and Airline Executive Bengston (Noah Keene), Sheckly determines that a psychological trick could be responsible for the enigma of flight 107.
“The Arrival” contains all the elements of a spooky, mystery-themed episode: a plane with no passengers, conflicting accounts of the same phenomenon, and a character whose déjà vu slowly leads him to a horrifying conclusion. The numerous logical and continuity errors contained in this offering will likely not, however, go unnoticed by those with an astute mindset.
Believing the plane to be an illusion, Sheckly extends his hand while advancing toward the propeller—arguably the most intense moment in any episode of The Twilight Zone. (That being said, viewers may question why Malloy, Bengston, Robbins, and Cousins agree to participate in Sheckly’s dangerous maneuver, thereby involving themselves in a potential homicide.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
Encountering Bengston and Malloy in the operations room, Sheckly discovers that the empty plane had been a figment of his imagination—a revelation that seems to contradict the landing and parking of the DC-3 as detailed in a previous scene, which occurs prior to Sheckly’s arrival at the base.
In addition to the illogical premise on which it operates, the twist ending is explained through an inordinate amount of expository dialogue. Audiences who enjoy The Twilight Zone for its dramatic tension may therefore wish to avoid this episode, which lacks a compelling resolution to its primary narrative conflict.
“The Arrival” employs a fantastic concept (i.e. airplane-related mishaps in a sci-fi/supernatural setting) to explore the real-life issue of survivor’s guilt. Though intriguing on a surface level, the scenario outlined above benefits from a more unsettling, coherent execution in season two’s “King Nine Will Not Return” than it does in “The Arrival.”
For building and maintaining suspense prior to the climactic sequence, “The Arrival” should be praised by enthusiasts of The Twilight Zone. The disappointing, if not thoroughly confusing, nature of the final scene may nevertheless prevent the majority of fans, casual or otherwise, from enjoying this effort.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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