Rod Serling’s Unproduced Twilight Zone Pilot Finally Aired In Season 3

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Written By Sedoso Feb

The alien, who refers to himself as Mr. Williams, crashlands outside the village and gets involved in an altercation with the local authorities. One officer is killed in the process, and Mr. Williams collapses in a nearby bar after sustaining grave injuries. A local doctor operates on the wounded alien out of sympathy, while Pedro (who works at the bar and is an orphan in this version of the story) befriends the alien, who gives him a peculiar gift that remains unexplained at this point.

After this, “The Gift” devolves into problematic territory. The residents of the Mexican village are painted as superstitious to the point of committing acts of murder, as they end up shooting Mr. Williams out of distrust. Despite the clear indication that Pedro and the alien have forged a bond, they view the gift as the mark of the devil without even understanding its value. While Serling meant for this aspect to symbolize themes of xenophobia and distrust for anything deemed the “other,” the thoughtless recontextualization of the location, unfortunately, perpetuates harmful stereotypes, while the twist reveal feels cheap and unearned.

This brings us to the gift in question, which turns out to be a vaccine against all forms of cancer. “We have not just killed a man; we have killed a dream,” the local doctor says after the gift is destroyed. While this idea is a strong one, Serling has conveyed it in much better, constructive ways in episodes like “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street,” which also boast taut script-writing and memorable performances. Unfortunately, “The Gift” has nothing valuable to offer except for the ghost of a tender sentiment, where the depth of a solitary child proves to be much more profound than the pointed disdain of the masses.

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