Profile in Silver
|"Profile in Silver"|
|The Twilight Zone (1985 series) episode|
Scene from "Profile in Silver"
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||John Hancock|
|Written by||J. Neil Schulman|
|Original air date||March 7, 1986|
"Profile in Silver" is the first segment of the twentieth episode of the first season (1985–86) of the television series The Twilight Zone.
Dr. Joseph Fitzgerald, a Harvard University professor of history from the year 2172, has travelled back in time and assumed the identity of an instructor at Harvard from 1961 to 1963. In the privacy of his office, Fitzgerald is visited by Dr. Kate Wang, a colleague from his own time. They discuss his mission, which is to observe the assassination of John F. Kennedy, from whom he is descended.
Fitzgerald is understandably nervous about watching his own ancestor be murdered, especially since he never got to know the man himself; he has met Kennedy only once. Wang reassures Fitzgerald that every field historian has moments of doubt such as this. When she departs for their home time, she says something that Fitzgerald does not quite catch. He decides to get it over with and journeys to Dealey Plaza in Dallas. However, when he glances up to the Texas School Book Depository and sees Lee Harvey Oswald raise a gun to kill Kennedy, Fitzgerald is unable to stand by and watch the killing. He intervenes and saves the president's life, shouting for the president and his entourage to take cover. Oswald fires anyway, but misses, and is later arrested by Dallas police.
A grateful President Kennedy (Andrew Robinson) invites Fitzgerald to stay at the White House. As Kennedy and his entourage return home, the president is notified that Soviet troops have captured West Berlin. Fitzgerald is astonished, and claims that Khrushchev would never do such a thing. Kennedy sadly points out that Khrushchev was assassinated earlier that day.
In his room that night, Fitzgerald frantically consults his time-travel wrist computer, which informs him that his alteration of history has caused massive rips in the fabric of time. The assassination of Khrushchev was not enough to "fix" the damage to the time stream; the computer informs Fitzgerald that all possible outcomes to this timeline will result in total war between the superpowers and mutual annihilation. There is only one way to repair the timeline, the computer intones: "The Kennedy presidency must end, as history originally recorded it."
Meanwhile, the president and his chief Secret Service bodyguard, Ray (Louis Giambalvo), have grown suspicious of Fitzgerald after finding a half dollar coin with Kennedy's face on it (no living American can be depicted on money) which Fitzgerald dropped on Air Force One. They have also discovered that Fitzgerald's movie camera is not the standard model it appears to be. Metallurgists cannot open it up or determine what it may be. They summon Fitzgerald, who tells them that the camera is a holographic camera from the future, as he himself is. They are skeptical but are convinced of the truth when the professor demonstrates the camera's use. President Kennedy asks whether Fitzgerald was sent back in time to observe Kennedy's reaction to the Berlin crisis, but the professor replies that he did not know about that. Kennedy is puzzled at this, until he looks again at the coin and notices the date: 1964. Kennedy quickly deduces the truth: that Fitzgerald came to Dallas to witness an assassination, Kennedy's own.
Kennedy volunteers to do whatever is necessary to repair history. Fitzgerald, overwhelmed by his ancestor's heroism, removes his time travel ring and places it on Kennedy's hand. Kennedy vanishes, and Fitzgerald's computer reports that the president has been transported to the year 2172 – Fitzgerald's home. The professor tells Ray that a few changes need to be made; then, when Dallas and the motorcade are revisited, it is Fitzgerald who appears in the car and is shot and killed.
At Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, the dead body of "President Kennedy" (actually Fitzgerald) is being attended to by a doctor, who is actually Fitzgerald's colleague from the future. Ray, the Secret Service agent, recognizes her ring because it is identical to Fitzgerald's. She tells him that she knew what Fitzgerald's fate would be, saying, "Some of us do our research in the even farther future" and goes on to say, "The last time I saw him I couldn't tell him what I knew. All I could do was repeat a phrase" - the remark that Fitzgerald didn't quite catch – "in Chinese that my husband taught me." Holding Fitzgerald's hand tenderly, she repeats the phrase in Chinese and then says it in English: "Goodbye, old friend... Goodbye." Ray asks her if what they have seen will change history, and she replies that it will not – because it did not. "Even the act of traveling in time is part of history," she says.
At Harvard University in 2172, a man speaks to a classroom full of students, delivering a rousing speech in which he implicitly lauds Fitzgerald's sacrifice and the sacrifices of other honorable men like him. As the camera turns, we see that the speaker, dressed in clothing appropriate to the period, is John F. Kennedy.
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