A Quality of Mercy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"A Quality of Mercy"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 15
Directed by Buzz Kulik
Written by Rod Serling from a story by Sam Rolfe
Production code 4809
Original air date December 29, 1961
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Five Characters in Search of an Exit"
Next →
"Nothing in the Dark"
List of season 3 episodes

"A Quality of Mercy" is episode 80 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone, which originally aired on December 29, 1961. The title is taken from a notable speech in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, which is quoted in Serling's closing narration at the end of the episode. It was later adapted into the first segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie, although very loosely.


August 6, 1945: A young gung-ho American in World War II, Second Lieutenant Katell, orders his war-weary soldiers to make a near suicidal attack on a group of sick and wounded Japanese soldiers holed up in a cave in the Philippines. Sergeant Causarano, who knows the men have had enough of war, tries to talk him out of it—the attack will accomplish nothing but pointless deaths on both sides—but Katell pulls rank and stands firm on his orders, intent on proving himself. He berates the experienced but war-weary non-commissioned officer and the rest of the platoon, demanding that they shape up.

Suddenly, Lt. Katell finds himself in Corregidor, three years earlier in the war, and gets a new perspective. As Lt. Yamuri in the Imperial Japanese Army, he is ordered to attack a group of American soldiers in the cave. In vain, he tries to dissuade the captain from the attack, arguing that the Americans inside the cave pose no threat and can simply be bypassed. The Japanese captain bluntly refuses to listen, suspecting the young man is sick with jungle fever or, worse, has lost his nerve. He tells him to straighten up or stay with the wounded, and when Yamuri will not back down, the captain relieves him of command of his platoon and moves the company forward to begin the attack anyway.

His mind reeling from what he has just experienced, Katell finds himself back in 1945 as an American soldier, with his men telling him that they've gotten word the A-bomb has been dropped. They have been ordered not to attack the cave and to fall back. Katell seems relieved, in light of his revelation.


Some of the cast members became well known in later science-fiction television series. Dean Stockwell became known to science-fiction fans as Al Calavicci in the television series Quantum Leap, and for another generation, as Cavil in the remake series of Battlestar Galactica. Leonard Nimoy became known as Spock in Star Trek.


Opening narration[edit]

Closing narration[edit]


The episode would later be remade into the first segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), with a modern-day approach in which the main character, Bill Connor (played by Vic Morrow), is a racist worker who is upset after a promotion is passed on him for a Jewish man. After going into a bigoted rant in a bar, he is then taken on a trip through time and is given similar justice of intolerance; a Jewish man during the Holocaust, an African American being lynched by the Ku Klux Klan, and a Vietnamese being attacked by American soldiers during the Vietnam War. It was directed by John Landis. While filming the Vietnam scene of the segment, Morrow and two young child actors were killed during a helicopter stunt. Later, Landis and the film's producers were put on trial for manslaughter and child endangerment, but were found not guilty on all counts. While the script originally intended for Connor to be redeemed (as in the episode it was based on) by saving the two children, Morrow's death necessitated a darker ending because the available footage did not include the happy ending. However, the original ending was featured in the novelization.

Episode notes[edit]

  • This episode was filmed on a soundstage at Hal Roach Studios, instead of the usual MGM facilities.[1]
  • End titles screen features the broken binoculars through which the 'enemies' are watched.


  1. ^ Zicree, Mark Scott (1982). The Twilight Zone Companion. Bantam. p. 242. ISBN 0-7607-5634-1. 
  • DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
  • Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0
  • Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)

External links[edit]