In the Philippines in 1945, army Lt. Fitzgerald has developed the disturbing ability to look into his men's faces and know who will be killed in the next battle. He says it's like a light is shined on their face. His superior, Capt. Phil Riker, consults the medical officer but he finds nothing conclusive. Fitzgerald passes out when visiting one of his wounded men in the hospital after he sees the light on his face. When he sees the light on Riker's face, he begs him not to go out. After they return from the operation, he sees that there will be one other casualty that day. Written by
Rod Serling served in the US Army's 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 11th Airborne Division, during the liberation of the Philippines, where this episode is set. See more »
Captain Riker and Lieutenant Fitzgerald are wearing their insignia. Officers serving on the Pacific Front made a point not to wear this because it identified them as high priority targets for Japanese snipers. See more »
The horrors of war extra painful in The Twilight Zone
"The Purple Testament" is definitely one of the bleakest and most depressing Twilight Zone episodes I've seen thus far, but this shouldn't come too much as a surprise since the story is set in the heat and humidity of The Philippines in 1945, near the end of a long and harrowing WWII, amidst a platoon where all the soldiers are seemingly exhausted and already traumatized beyond repair for the rest of their lives. But of all the poor suckers here, nobody suffers as massively as Lt. Fitzgerald! For some inexplicable reason (remember, we're in the Twilight Zone ) he developed the deeply unpleasant ability to foretell which soldiers are about to die next because he sees an uncanny glow appear on their faces. The platoon's supervisor, Capt. Phil Riker, is naturally concerned about his lieutenant's deteriorating mental state but doesn't pay any attention when Fitzgerald begs him not to go on his next mission because he spotted the glow in his face. Contrary to most episodes in this legendary TV-format, "The Purple Testament" doesn't contain any grotesque story twists or kitschy set pieces. Instead, it entirely thrives on gloomy atmosphere and integer performances. What makes the episode truly unforgettable, however, is the enormously downbeat but yet plausible denouement Fitzgerald's stoic and motionless reaction when he witnesses the glowing face of the last victim is powerful stuff...
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