TV Review: THE TWILIGHT ZONE “Person Or Persons Unknown”

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The fine folks over at Image Entertainment were nice enough to send us the newly released affordable edition of THE TWILIGHT ZONE: SEASON THREE, and like the first two seasons of the classic TV show, season three is as solid as it gets. While most of the episodes are just as awesome, I thought I’d focus on my favorite of the season’s episodes, the amazing “Person or Persons Unknown“.

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Person or Persons Unknown is one of the many episodes that really highlight the vision of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, and it’s one of the episodes that has always left an impression on me throughout the years. It tells the story of David Gurney (played SO well by Richard Long, THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL), a man who after waking up with a hangover, tries to wake his wife up. When she wakes up, she instantly begins to flip out, not recognizing David. While David assumes that it’s just a joke, it quickly becomes a reality when he goes to work and not a single person recognizes him. After causing a scene, David is arrested and sent to a mental hospital.

Once there, David still attempts to prove his identity, but every person the hospital’s doctor calls doesn’t recognize his voice and denies that he’s who he says he is. Frustrated and afraid, David escapes from the hospital and sets out to prove to himself now, that he is indeed David Gurney and that he has experienced in life, what he says he has. Hitting his regulalar bar, the bartender, like the others, doesn’t remember him and David. David then remembers an old photo that was taken of him and his wife, and retrieves it, but when the Doctor and the police show up, and David shoves the photo at them, they hand it back, and the image of his wife disappears, leaving only David in the photo. David loses it, and drops to the ground, screaming and crying.

David immediately wakes up, safe, and in his bed. Everything is fine and back to normal, with his wife recognizing him and playfully talking to him, but when she lets her hair down, David sees that she’s a completely different woman than he was married to at the beginning of the episode. Confused, David just stares straight ahead.

Like many other episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, this one really raises a lot of internal questions for its main character, and if you really start to think about it, even for its viewers. It boils down to who are we as people, and if you really want to get existential, how many of us REALLY know ourselves as much as we would presume to? It’s a very thought-provoking episode and it’s made even more intense by the awesome performance by Richard Long. A lot of viewers gravitate to the Shatner episodes, or the Matheson-written ones, and while those are pretty awesome, Person or Persons Unknown has always been one of of the TWILIGHT ZONE episodes that stayed with me for years.

THE TWILIGHT ZONE: SEASON THREE is available on DVD July 9th via IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT.

  • Jobyl7

    Great article. This episode is way deeper than the obvious twist at the end, as with most episodes in the series