The Twilight Zone Episode 118: On Thursday We Leave for Home

General Information

Director: Buzz Kulik

Writer: Rod Serling

Cast: James Whitmore, Tim O’Connor, James Broderick, Paul Langton, Jo Helton, Mercedes Shirley, Russ Bender, Daniel Kulick, Madge Kennedy, John Ward, Shirley O’Hara, Anthony Benson, and Lew Gallo

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 5/2/1963

Production Code: 4868

 

Overview

After spending thirty years on the desert planet V9-Gamma, space colonists led by Captain Benteen (James Whitmore) await the arrival of a transport ship. WhenThe Twilight Zone On Thursday We Leave for Home Colonel Sloane (Tim O’Connor) arrives in a flying saucer from Earth, however, Captain Benteen remains unwilling to relinquish his command and provide his people with the freedom that they desire.

Combining science fiction devices with commentary on the human condition, “On Thursday We Leave for Home” earns its standing as a highlight of season four. Many will also appreciate the performance of James Whitmore, who conveys the subtle but rapid changes of a man deprived of his perceived purpose.

 

Pros

Despite issuing commands in a dictatorial manner, Captain Benteen will evoke sympathy from those of a sensitive temperament. Specifically, by admonishing a The Twilight Zone On Thursday We Leave for Homesubordinate for shirking his responsibilities, sheltering his people from a meteor shower, and sharing a poignant description of Earth’s beauty with a young child, Captain Benteen initially comes across as a caring and benevolent leader—much in contrast to Captain Ross of “Death Ship,” who exhibits no concern for his crew members while barking orders at them. Viewers will therefore recognize the tragic nature of Benteen’s character transition, which indicates that ultimate power can destroy even the kindest of men.

 

Cons

(Spoilers beyond this point)

The Twilight Zone On Thursday We Leave for HomeComing to his senses, Captain Benteen pleads with the departing spaceship for a passage to Earth. However, viewers may question why Benteen—originally content with dictating his will to an imaginary audience—has a last-minute change of heart in the final scene.

 

Analysis

Offering a nuanced look into the mind of a dictator, “On Thursday We Leave for Home” demonstrates that every world leader, no matter how evil or corrupt, considers himself the hero of his own story—a profound, albeit highly disturbing, lesson on human nature.

 

Concluding Comments

“On Thursday We Leave for Home” is a haunting, beautifully acted episode of The Twilight Zone. Especially effective are the implications present in Rod Serling’s narrative, which implies that even the most vile, authoritarian figures throughout history can be viewed from a sympathetic angle.

 

Overall Quality: 10/10

 

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One thought on “The Twilight Zone Episode 118: On Thursday We Leave for Home

  1. If Benteen wanted more control, it might have made more sense for him to tell them horror stories of what Earth was like, so that they’d have less of a desire to leave. Stranding him seems kind of cruel, did he have enough supplies to last for what could have been the rest of his life?

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