Tempests (The Outer Limits)

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The Outer Limits episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 9
Directed by Mario Azzopardi
Written by Hart Hanson
Production code 53
Original air date 7 March 1997
Guest appearance(s)

Eric McCormack as John Virgil
Burt Young as Captain Parker
Charlene Fernetz as Corinne Virgil
Marie Stillin as Governor Mudry
Kenneth Welsh as Dr. Vasquez
Lee Taylor as Colonel Lynne

Episode chronology
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"Heart's Desire"
Next →
List of The Outer Limits episodes

"Tempests" is an episode of The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on 7 March 1997, during the third season.


A spaceship crashes while on a mission of mercy. One of the crew begins to hallucinate — unable to tell what is real, and what is fantasy.

Opening narration[edit]


Commander Virgil is desperately attempting to deliver a serum to his home colony, which is being devastated by a virus, Ellycia C. His wife and young son are there. After his ship crashes into a gas giant, he finds himself shifting between two realities.

In the "bad" reality he crashes onto what he believes is a moon but later revealed to be the inside of a creature living in the gas giant. While attempting to fix his ship, he is bitten by a poisonous spider-like creature. He is stuck trying to survive with his crew mates while hallucinating from the spider's poison. In the "good" reality, he and his crewmates were rescued, he delivered the serum, he is with his family and heralded as a hero while hallucinating due to Ellycia C. In both realities, the "other" reality is explained away as a hallucination: In the reality where the crashed ship is stuck, his visions of being with his family are explained as hallucinations due to the spider-bite poison; in the "good" reality, he is told he is hallucinating from Ellycia C. In both realities, he is warned he could die if he does not struggle against the so-called "false" reality.

In the end, Virgil makes the choice to embrace the "bad" reality, realizing that if the "good" reality is real, his wife and son are safe without him, but if the "bad" reality is real, they still need the serum. The captain manages to launch him, in an escape pod. As he flies through space he manages to get a transmission from his wife. He has made contact with the colony, and they can rescue his crewmates, retrieve the serum and save everyone. "I save them." Reality shifts again...

Both realities are false; Virgil, and the entire crew, have been taken over by the spiders. They are all locked into hallucinations. Virgil's brave struggles have been meaningless.


In the "bad" reality a clue is given as to what exactly the spider does. It doesn't just deliver a poison, it in fact takes over the host's body. Removing it at that point means death. Whenever the governor is shown in the "bad" reality the spider is webbing her more and more making it look like a cocoon of sorts. At a certain point, the governor begins to say that she "sees" it. The governor's mumbling is the only part of reality that Virgil sensed in his hallucinations and may mean that she is the only one who can see the true reality.

Closing narration[edit]

External links[edit]