Director: Robert Florey
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Robert Lansing, Mariette Hartley, Edward Binns, George Macready, William Swan, and Donald Spruance
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 1/10/1964
Production Code: 2624
Given his lack of friends and family, astronaut Douglas Stansfield (Robert Lansing) is selected for a deep space mission lasting forty years—for which he would spend the majority of his time in a cryogenic stasis chamber. Before leaving, however, Commander Stansfield falls deeply in love with a young colleague named Sandra Horn (Mariette Hartley).
Using science fiction to develop a tragic romance narrative, Rod Serling should be commended for his contributions to this episode. Nevertheless, “The Long Morrow” is marred by scientific inaccuracies, illogical character choices, and flawed conceptions of then futuristic technology.
Known to Star Trek fans for appearing in “All Our Yesterdays” and “Assignment: Earth” respectively, Mariette Hartley and Robert Lansing deserve praise for adding pathos, credibility, and emotional depth to the relationship of Sandra Horn and Commander Stansfield—two professionals who form a passionate bond within hours of meeting one another.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
Though effectively heart-wrenching, the twist ending of “The Long Morrow” is undermined by at least one significant problem. Specifically, Commander Stansfield removes himself from suspended animation after six months in outer space, allows himself to age forty years over the course of his journey, and returns to Earth as a tired old man—actions motivated by his desire to be with Sandra, who, having met Stansfield mere hours prior to his departure, could realistically have resigned from her position at the space agency, fallen in love with another man, and forgotten the commander during his decades-long absence.
A partial reimagining of Romeo and Juliet (albeit in a modern setting with mature adults in both leading roles), “The Long Morrow” demonstrates the potential danger of allowing temporary feelings to alter life decisions of critical importance.
“The Long Morrow” is a touching and poignantly acted episode of The Twilight Zone. Especially compelling are the performances of Hartley and Lansing, who enforce the realism of a seemingly frivolous and unlikely romance.
Overall Quality: 8/10
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