Nothing in the Dark
|"Nothing in the Dark"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Lamont Johnson|
|Written by||George Clayton Johnson|
|Original air date||January 5, 1962|
"Nothing in the Dark" is episode 81 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. This is one of two episodes that were filmed during Season 2 but held over for broadcast until Season 3, the other being "The Grave".
|“||An old woman living in a nightmare, an old woman who has fought a thousand battles with death and always won. Now she's faced with a grim decision - whether or not to open a door. And in some strange and frightening way she knows that this seemingly ordinary door leads to the Twilight Zone.||”|
A lonely old woman, Wanda Dunn (Gladys Cooper), will not leave her seemingly abandoned, dark basement apartment because she's afraid "Mr. Death" is waiting for her outside. There is an altercation outside; Wanda peeks out fearfully. A young man, police officer Harold Beldon (Robert Redford), is at the door and lying on the ground, having been shot. After much convincing, Wanda finally opens the door and brings him in. He talks to her about her fear, and she tells him she has seen Death before in the form of a man, and witnessed him taking away the life of a woman on a bus just by touching her. Wanda has been afraid of death ever since.
When there is a knock at the door, Wanda at first argues with a man (R. G. Armstrong) on the other side. He forces the door open, knocking her out. When she comes to consciousness, the man apologizes and explains he is a building contractor and that he is to demolish the building within one hour. He indicates that she has been given due notice and ample time to move, and if she will not leave he will call the police to escort her forcibly from the premises. She protests and explains there is already a police officer with her. She asks Harold for help, but the contractor can't see him and asks who she is talking to.
After the contractor leaves, Wanda confronts Harold on why he offered no assistance, and why the contractor couldn't see Harold. Harold asks her to look in the mirror, and when she does, she sees only the bed where Harold is lying, but not Harold himself. She then realizes that he is in fact Death, who has come to claim her. Death explains that he set up the elaborate ruse to get her to trust him, so she could understand that Death itself is nothing to be scared of. At first, Wanda is very angry, and claims it is not fair, as he had tricked her. But rather than being a monster, she eventually sees him as a gentle deliverer. He says, "Mother, give me your hand." She is finally convinced to touch him. "You see? No shock. No engulfment. No tearing asunder. What you feared would come like an explosion is like a whisper. What you thought was the end is the beginning."
Before she even realizes anything has changed, she finds herself standing beside her own dead body. Wanda and Death walk together hand in hand through the doorway, up the stairs, outside into the sunlight.
|“||There was an old woman who lived in a room. And, like all of us, was frightened of the dark. But who discovered in a minute last fragment of her life that there was nothing in the dark that wasn't there when the lights were on. Object lesson for the more frightened amongst us, in or out, of the Twilight Zone.||”|
- 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
- "Nothing in the Dark" at the Internet Movie Database
- TV.com episode page
- Nothing in the Dark review at The Twilight Zone Project
- Full video of the episode at CBS.com