Astronaut Major Robert Gaines is the latest to orbit the Earth but something happens while there. Ground control loses all contact with him and although he returns safely, he apparently blacked out and has no recollection of what may have happened. Nor can he explain how the craft landed on land - completely undamaged - when it was meant to splash down in the ocean. When Gaines returns home he finds that little things are different: he's now a full colonel and has been for some time; his house now has a picket fence; he no longer seems to take sugar in his coffee; and even his wife senses he is different after she kisses him. It is soon apparent that Gaines has returned to an Earth in an alternate universe. Written by
In the parallel universe, the World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker was never found after the crash of Eastern Air Lines Flight 21 on February 26, 1941. In Gaines' universe, Rickenbacker and the other survivors were found only eight hours after the crash. He died on July 23, 1973 at the age of 82, more than ten years after this episode was broadcast. See more »
By the time the astronaut is seeing fire out his window. He would not be able to be communicating with ground control. As the spacecraft reenters the atmosphere and the outside of craft heats. Ionization occurs and radio traffic is impossible. By the time "fire" is seen through the window. Radio traffic would be impossible. See more »
Major Robert Gaines, a latter-day voyager just returned from an adventure. Submitted to you without any recommendation as to belief or disbelief. You can accept or reject; you pays your money and you takes your choice. But credulous or incredulous, don't bother to ask anyone for proof that it could happen. The obligation is a reverse challenge: prove that it couldn't. This happens to be... the Twilight Zone.
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This episode has many bright spots, although the conclusion is a bit bewildering. Steve Forrest goes into space. During the journey, he blacks out but somehow manages to land the ship on dry land. This was a virtual impossibility at the time. It was always a splashdown. He is hospitalized and questioned, but he can't remember the events after he disappeared from radar. The brass isn't happy with him (interesting, because what do they think he knows?). He is released and returns to his family home where he bumps into a picket fence which he had never seen before. Then confusion starts to evolve. He seems to be the man who left except there are small and not-so-small things that confuse him. For one, he was a major when he left earth, but now he is a full colonel. His wife kisses him and she is immediately repelled. And his little girl says he is not her daddy. This leads to psychological testing but it is non-conclusive. Obviously, something took place during those missing moments. Forrest's astronaut begins perusing encyclopedias and finds that facts he knew to be true have been contradicted. For me, a really good episode has a pat little ending. Still it's a good effort.
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