Tribunal (The Outer Limits)
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|The Outer Limits episode|
|Episode no.||Season 5
|Directed by||Mario Azzopardi|
|Written by||Sam Egan|
|Original air date||14 May 1999|
"Tribunal" is an episode of The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on 14 May 1999, during the fifth season.
|“||It is said that those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it. But what dangers await those who cannot forget the past, those obsessed with reliving it?||”|
Leon Zgierski, an inmate of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1944, is forced to watch as his wife is shot and killed by S.S. Obersturmführer Karl Rademacher—and two SS guards drag away Leon's daughter Hannah to what he believes are the gas chambers. The murder is witnessed by a mysterious man who writes in a digital notebook, but before he can be taken, he steals Rademacher's greatcoat, holds up a pocket watch and vanishes in a flash of light.
Many years later, Aaron—Leon Zgierski's son by a second marriage, and a Nazi hunter—becomes obsessed with tracking down Rademacher and bringing him to justice.
Aaron is sure he has finally found Rademacher in the United States, living under the name Robert Greene—but is unable to find enough evidence to convince the authorities to prosecute Greene. Aaron confronts the man himself and angrily denounces him as a war criminal with little success. Greene insists that he is not Rademacher, but—realizing that he has been found—makes plans to leave for Argentina to avoid any possible prosecution.
Nicholas Prentice, the mysterious man with the antique watch, appears and gives Aaron some artifacts from the camp: the greatcoat and a notebook of names and details. Aaron continues to build his case, but the authorities are reluctant to get involved even with the evidence provided by Prentice.
Determined to find out more about Nicholas Prentice, Aaron goes to the man's hotel room; Prentice is in the shower, but the room door has been left ajar and it opens when Aaron knocks. After searching the room, Aaron finds an antique watch with high-technology innards. He accidentally activates the device, drops it, and finds himself back in the 1944 concentration camp with his father and Rademacher—with no way to return home. The watch is a time travel device, and Prentice is from the late 21st Century. Fortunately for Aaron, Prentice returns from showering and finds the dropped watch. He realises what must have happened, follows Aaron back to 1944, and returns him to his own time.
Having seen the camp conditions and Rademacher's crimes for himself, Aaron becomes even more determined to bring the war criminal to justice. Things look slightly hopeful when the artifacts given to Aaron create sufficient grounds for a deportation hearing. Unfortunately, Prentice visits with bad news: future history records that as the evidence mounted, "Robert Greene" bought a one-way ticket to Argentina and was never heard from again. Livid, Aaron goes to Greene's/Rademacher's house with a gun and demands a confession. Prentice follows him, and explains that he is Aaron's great-grandson. If Aaron kills Greene and goes to prison, Prentice will cease to exist. Aaron agrees not to shoot Greene, realizing that it would only cause more harm to Aaron's family. Prentice gives Aaron a bag with two S.S. camp guard uniforms and camp inmate clothing. They change into the SS uniforms, force Greene to put on the inmate clothing, and the three of them travel back to 1944.
Greene meets his younger counterpart and tries to explain who he is, but young Rademacher shoots him, believing the old man to be just another Jewish prisoner. Aaron then meets his half-sister Hannah, whom he and Prentice (in their disguises as SS guards) drag away. They then order Leon to be sent to a labor camp (because history recorded that everyone who did not report to the labor camp would later be executed by the SS), thus fulfilling the flow of history—earlier, young Leon had seen his daughter taken away by the SS, not realizing that the guards were Aaron and Prentice in disguise.
Back in the present day, Aaron visits his father, the elderly Leon Zgierski, and introduces him to Hannah - identified by the camp number still tattooed on her arm.
A fulfilled and yet deeply humbled Nicholas Prentice watches the tearful reunion between his ancestors from nearby, before quietly walking away and dematerializing.
|“||The wounds of war run deep, cutting across generations. But there is always the hope of healing, so long as there are souls among us whose hearts are more full of love than hate.||”|
- At the end of the episode is a note from the writer, Sam Egan: "Dedicated to my father who survived Auschwitz... and to his wife and daughter who did not."
- The Nicholas Prentice character appears in two other episodes of The Outer Limits: "Gettysburg" and "Time to Time".
- This is the 100th episode of the series.
- The phrase "Arbeit macht frei"—"work sets you free"—can be seen on the gate of the concentration camp and has added irony in this episode.
- The story about time travelers, observing the past and predicting impacts through time traveling, as well as the behaviour or the character of Nicholas Prentice show strong parallels to the story of Fringe's Observers.