He created "Twilight Zone" to tell stories that might otherwise not pass approval by the advertisers and management. His record is dismal, revealing a heavy-handed and crudely moralizing storyteller. He isn't remotely close to (for example) Sturgeon or Ellison. There are perhaps a mere half-dozen really good TZ episodes, and I don't think Serling wrote any of them.
This truly pathetic episode deals with the nature of reality. Is what we experience real, or does it exist only in belief? Does a sufficiently strong belief create a "reality" that people other than the believer experience?
When convict Burgess Meredith is hypnotized and told to believe he's flying an airplane, he develops altitude sickness and foams at the mouth -- not much of a problem for the ever-hammy Mr Meredith. ** When he "loses control" of the imaginary airplane, it crashes into the prison, causing //real// death 'n destruction.
This is about as stupid as any bad Star Trek episode.
Why not have him recover control (so the audience has at least a moment of faux excitement), then have Cameron Mitchell hypnotize him again, telling him he can walk through the prison walls? And he does. The episode would then be titled "Stone Walls..."
Yes, that's obvious and dumb, too. But at least it takes advantage of the situation's potential.
* This luster seems to be based primarily on live drama, usually sponsored by Big Businesses. The quality of this programming varied widely, perhaps only a small percentage of which would hold up to the best TV being done today. It did, however, make it possible for stage actors and directors to get the visibility needed to advance to motion-picture making.
** In his youth, BM was a fine actor. But like Vincet Price, he threw it away.
With the prison warden Kenneth Toby who against his better judgment goes on letting Tuttle do his thing with Charlie he gets him to think that he's actually a passenger jet flying at 30,000 feet and about to make a crash landing. Tied down in his prison bed Charlie soon loses conciseness and starts to heat up turning all colors of the rainbow-Finnigan's Raindow-and crashes to earth incinerating himself and almost his entire cell-block!
A totally confused and flabbergasted Pete Tuttle as well as Dr. Simsich and prison warden soon realize that they went too far in their experiment with Charlie in causing his death! But as for Charlie, like the convict in the Jack London novel "The Jacket", he was now free as a bird if not in body but definitely in spirit able to fly as high and fast as he wants without being confined to a jail cell that he was condemned to spend the rest of his natural life in. A life that Charlie Finnigan made for himself that now with the help of a startled Pete Tuttle who was shocked-down to his socks-by his own ability to get Charlie air borne that Charlie was able to free himself from.