In a post-apocalyptic settlement in 1974, the inhabitants' survival is dependent on the advice of an unseen man living in a nearby cave. This dependence is tested when a band of soldiers descends on their town.
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Ten years after an atomic apocalypse, a small group of survivors manage to eke out a very difficult existence. They've managed to survive in large part due to the advice they receive from an old man who lives in a cave outside of the town. Goldsmith acts as the intermediary and the old man's advice on things like crops or the safety of a batch of old canned goods are usually correct. When four soldiers led by Major French arrive in the town, the social order is upended with the townsfolk attacking the old man's cave but not really prepared for what they find inside. Written by
Mr. Goldsmith, survivor, an eye witness to man's imperfection, an observer of the very human trait of greed, and a chronicler of the last chapter - the one reading 'suicide.' Not a prediction of what is to be, just a projection of what could be. This has been the Twilight Zone.
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I'm not religious, but it's pretty clear that this great apocalyptic episode is pretty much taken straight from the Old Testament Biblical parable of Elijah leading a village of Israelites in the wilderness. In the parable, God, through his prophet Elijah, withholds food from Elijah's people. The non-believer Ahab comes to the village and confronts Elijah, asking how a true God could deny His people food. Ahab also says a true God would not speak just through one person- Elijah-and demands to be shown proof that this God exists. In the episode Goldsmith is Elijah and James Coburn's army commander is Ahab. The Old Man In the Cave is you-know-who. This episode asks: what would happen if the people followed the non-believer instead of the true prophet? The arch-eyebrowed Rod Serling pretty much sums it up at the conclusion when he states that those who do not have "faith" must pay. Pretty heavy handed but nice.
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