Nick of Time (The Twilight Zone)
|"Nick of Time"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2|
|Directed by||Richard L. Bare|
|Written by||Richard Matheson|
|Original air date||November 18, 1960|
The hand belongs to Mr. Don S. Carter (William Shatner), male member of a honeymoon team on route across the Ohio countryside to New York City. In one moment, they will be subjected to a gift most humans never receive in a lifetime. For one penny, they will be able to look into the future. The time is now, the place is a little diner in Ridgeview, Ohio, and what this young couple doesn't realize is that this town happens to lie on the outskirts of the Twilight Zone.
When newlywed Don and Pat Carter's (Patricia Breslin) automobile breaks down in Ridgeview, Ohio, they have lunch at the Busy Bee Cafe while they wait for repairs to be made. The booth they sit in has a fortune teller machine on the table that answers yes or no questions for a penny each. Don asks the "mystic seer" if he is going to get a promotion at work. The card says "It has been decided in your favor". Don calls the office and learns he has been promoted. Because of this initial success, Don asks the seer if their car will be fixed in the promised time, and receives the answer "You may never know". Questioning the seer on this point produces eerily relevant answers, leading to the prediction that it is unsafe to leave the diner until 3 p.m.
Don accordingly stalls for time, but Pat argues that the seer cannot genuinely predict the future and eventually convinces him to leave a few minutes before 3. The couple is almost struck by a car while crossing the street. A nearby clock shows it is 3 p.m. After they calm down, Don goes back to the cafe and again asks about their car. The seer answers "It has already been taken care of", and the mechanic steps into the diner to tell Don that the car is fixed. Pat remains skeptical, contending that the seer answers in generalities, that any machine in the cafe would give the same results; she feels that Don is creating the coincidental links to his specific questions himself. Don challenges her to try it for herself. Although she asks the seer trick questions, the answers are still accurate.
Don wants the seer to tell him where they're going to live and asks it yes/no questions to narrow down the answer. Pat finally tells Don straight out that whether or not the seer can really tell the future doesn't matter. She argues that he is more than capable of making his own future, that he has no need to allow himself to be controlled by what the seer tells him. Recognizing the truth in what she says, Don apologizes and then announces directly to the mystic seer that they are leaving to go do what they please. After their exit, a beleaguered and distraught older couple enters the diner. They sit at the same table as Don and Pat had and the man asks questions about whether they will ever leave Ridgeview. The couple is deflated by the answers. While this is happening, Don and Pat leave Ridgeview.
Counterbalance in the little town of Ridgeview, Ohio. Two people permanently enslaved by the tyranny of fear and superstition, facing the future with a kind of helpless dread. Two others facing the future with confidence - having escaped one of the darker places of the Twilight Zone.
- William Shatner as Don Carter
- Patricia Breslin as Pat Carter
- Stafford Repp as Mechanic (Lars)
- Guy Wilkerson as Counter Man
- Walter Reed as Man
- Dee Carroll as Woman
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Richard Matheson, writing in The Twilight Zone Magazine, said that he wished that Pat Breslin (who played Pat Carter) had been available again to play the wife of Shatner's character in the season five episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet".
The street and building seen in this episode are the same as seen in the episode "I Sing the Body Electric". Both episodes feature scenes in which people are almost run over by vehicles on the same street.
The street and building are also visible in the opening scene of the episode "Black Leather Jackets".
Replay, an episode of the 2019 revival series, features a shot of the mystic seer in a cafe.
- List of The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series) episodes
- "The Path" – A related episode
- Zicree, Marc Scott. The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition).
- 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