I watched this episode my first year of college in a class about monster mythology. That class, to this day, has had a huge effect on the way I view things. Things aren’t always what they seem. Our “monsters” aren’t really monsters at all.
In this episode, two men from earth are traveling to Mars to explore. One, Samuel Conrad, is afraid of what they might find. The other, Warren Marcusson, is very excited and not scared because he believes “people are alike all over.” Conrad does not share that positive view. The opening narration goes as follows:
“You are looking at a species of flimsy little 2-legged animal with extremely small heads whose name is Man. Warren Marcusson, age 35. Samuel A. Conrad, age 31. They’re taking a highway into space- Man unshackling himself and sending his tiny, groping fingers into the unknown. Their destination is Mars, and in just a moment we’ll land there with them.”
SPOILER ALERT! They land on mars with complications. They crash and after a while, Warren dies. Sam, alone on the ship, is afraid to go out. Finally, deciding to open the door, he finds himself pleasantly surprised. The martians appear human-like. He is greeted and welcomed. He begins to relax, being attracted to one of the martians. They take him to a room that, surprisingly, is very human. They told him in was his living space that was furnished in a human fashion. He wants to explore the rest of Mars and they promise to take him around. After being in the room for a while, he finds that there are no doors or windows. He finally finds a wall that slides up. Once it does, he sees a lot more martians outside looking at him. He sees a sign that says “Earth Creature in his native habitat.” He is in a cage in an exhibit. He bangs on the walls screaming: “Marcusson, you were right! You were right. People are alike…. people are alike everywhere!” The closing narration is as follows:
“Species of animal brought back alive. Interesting similarity in physical characteristics to human beings in head, trunk, arms, legs, feet. Very tiny undeveloped brain; comes from this primitive planet called Earth. Calls himself Samuel Conrad, and he will remain here in his cage with the running water and electricity and the central heat, as long as he lives. Samuel Conrad has found the Twilight Zone.”
Sam found himself in a situation very similar to earth. When we find something unlike us, we study it. We put it in a cage for an exhibit to show the world of our discovery. Over the course of that class, we studied old monster mythologies, like Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster, only to find that they were only representations of that time period. The authors explored themes and tropes specific to that era hidden under monstrous forms. Ad it continued, we explored modern monsters, people considered monsters because of deformities, people put on displays as monsters for enjoyment of viewers and the pockets of the people who “discovered” them. If you think about it, the Elephant Man and Freak Shows, are made up of people with deformities, yet we treat them like a spectacle. What are Martians did to Sam is what humans (abled bodied humans anyway) do all the time. (We not being everyone just people who have) People are alike all over. In this case, it highlighted the way we treat people but it brought to the forefront that we shouldn’t treat people poorly because they are different. In the end we all want to be treated with well, we are all alike in that way.
The Twilight Zone was very popular in its day. It had five seasons of 156 episodes. It’s still popular today if my watching it in my class is something to go by.
If you want to watch the episode, I have linked it here: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3kf4z6
Narration was taken from The Twilight Zone Wikia.