To See the Invisible Man
|"To See the Invisible Man"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
Scene from "To See the Invisible Man"
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||Noel Black|
|Written by||Steven Barnes|
|Original air date||January 31, 1986|
Cotter Smith as Mitchell Chaplin
|“||It's a world much like our own, yet much unlike it. A twisted mirror of reality, in which a man can find himself cast out, made invisible by public acclamation, belonging no longer to society, but only to the gray reaches...of the Twilight Zone.||”|
Mitchell Chaplin lives in a world parallel to ours. A rude and obnoxious man, Chaplin has been found guilty of "coldness"—of not being friendly or open enough with those around him. According to the State, he is to be rendered "invisible" and a social outcast for one year. An implant placed on his forehead warns others not to interact with him in any way lest they be punished in a like manner. Chaplin laughs at the verdict and his "punishment". On the first day of his punishment, he continues his obnoxious behavior in a cafeteria, grabbing whatever food he pleases and knocking off the chef hat of an employee, knowing that no one would retaliate. Mitchell does, however, quickly shy away when a little boy asks him a question, not wanting to get the child in trouble.
What seems like a welcome chance to be left alone becomes a lesson in humility, compassion, and empathy as Chaplin begins to feel the consequences of social isolation. Under the omnipresent eye of floating security drones that monitor their society, people shun him, even a man who is also sentenced to be invisible. At a dining hall, a blind hobo sits next to Mitchell who laments he cannot afford much, and Mitchell kindly shares some of his food with the man. The friendly conversation is refreshing for Mitchell, until a waitress whispers a warning to the hobo that he is interacting with an invisible man. The blind man furiously curses Chaplin and turns away.
Misfortune after misfortune befalls Chaplin, and his lowest point is reached when he is denied medical care after being hit by a car. Finally, on the last day of his sentence two policemen come to his residence. Using the same device that rendered him invisible, it removes the implant on his head. They address him as Mr. Chaplin and invite him to have a drink with them; this world's way of letting an invisible man being welcomed back into their society.
Four months after completing his sentence, Chaplin is accosted in public by a young woman (whom he encountered during his term of invisibility) who wears the scar of an implant. Knowing the law, he initially ignores her but her cries move him to hug her. As they are surrounded by drones, he declares that he can see the woman and that he cares about her suffering.
|“||A small footnote found in the court records of some parallel world. The name of Mitchell Chaplin, who served his sentence of invisibility and learned his lesson well. Too well. This time, however, he will wear his invisibility like a shield of glory. A shield forged in the very heart...of the Twilight Zone.||”|
In the original short story, the criminal is never named, and his one-year sentence was noted to begin on May 11, 2104. In addition, the gender of the criminal's friend was changed from a man in the original story to a woman in the televised version.