The Twilight Zone – Time Enough At Last – S1 E8

If there were a overarching theme to Time Enough At Last, the eighth episode of the first season of The Twilight Zone, it would have to be that no matter how bad things may at first seem, they can get much, much worse.

After all, you have to keep in mind that about midway though the episode a nuclear strike decimates an unnamed American city, seemingly leaving unharmed a single survivor, Henry Bemis (Burgess Meredith), and that’s not even the worse thing that happens.

And if being the lone survivor of a nuclear war weren’t bad enough, Bemis’ fate is particularly tragic–in that typically ironic fashion that The Twilight Zone is know for–because what happens to him is undeserved, especially considering that he’s a pretty good-natured and friendly person, whose only peccadillo is that he likes reading more than dealing with people.

Though part of the message of the series was often the very random nature of fate, in that sometimes very bad things happened to people not because they deserved them, or were somehow bad themselves, more so that things sometime happen, whether or not we feel they’re deserved.

It’s the contrast between Bemis’ final fate and what he deserves that makes the episode particularly shocking. though a lot of the credit goes to Burgess Meredith’s portrays of Henry Bemis a particularly sympathetic one.

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