"The Passerby" is based on a theme that has been around since humans became aware of the reality of death, namely considering it some form of physical journey. The American Civil War has just ended and a Confederate sergeant with a leg wound is one of many men walking down the road towards what they think is home. The sergeant is thirsty so he stops at a burned out mansion and asks the southern woman if he can drink from her well. She agrees and the sergeant is happy for the chance to rest. Men continue to walk by and the sergeant begins to learn that the southern woman is filled with hate. She is afraid that her officer husband was a casualty of the war and that fear has made her hate anything to do with the Union. All through their interaction, the men keep moving down the road past the mansion and finally the sergeant and the lady learn that the road is the path that the dead are taking. Their role in the process turns out to be something that neither one of them expected. The purpose of the road is clear early in the episode if you pay attention, because most of the men seem to have no real interest in anything but the road. President Abraham Lincoln wanted to bury all of the hate and make the nation whole again, however the hate also claimed his life. It has been said that Lincoln was the last casualty of the American Civil War, a thought raised once again in this episode. The 7th Is Made of Phantoms" is also a story retold in many ways, a modern military unit is somehow able to go back in time and be witnesses to a historic battle. In this case, a National Guard unit is on maneuvers in the area where General Custer fought his last battle. A three-man crew is driving their tank over the prairie when they hear noises and see things that took place decades ago on the eve of Custer's famous battle with the Sioux. Two members of the crew are very familiar with the battle and recognize the events that they are now a part of. After moving back and forth through time, events proceed and they become more immersed in what is about to transpire and the three crewmembers voluntarily cock their weapons and enter the battle. The eerie nature of the empty prairie with smoke signals, dust clouds and Indian whoops is the perfect setting for this tense and uncertain episode. Until the very last, you are uncertain as to whether the tank crew will be part of the battle or simply witnesses to it. Another positive aspect was the appearance of Greg Morris as the Lieutenant of the unit. Although President Harry Truman had integrated the U. S. military over a decade earlier, it was a rare television event in 1963 when black men were cast in roles of authority and responsibility. "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge" is one of the most thrilling and tense episodes ever to appear on television. All of the tenseness is generated by the images; it was a French production where there were only ten words of English dialog. The setting is during the American Civil War and a unit of the Union Army is preparing to hang a man from a bridge. Suddenly, when the plank is removed, he falls into the water and is able to squirm free. In a frantic effort, the man flees from his pursuit, however nothing is at it appears to be, there is a summary ending that snaps the tension out of the episode much like the tension in a hangman's rope. "I Am the Night - Color Me Black" is a thinly disguised comment on prejudice and hatred, while the law is involved, there are significant overtones of lynching. Jagger is a man that has been convicted of killing a violent bigot and he is scheduled to be executed in an open-air public hanging. As the time grows near, we learn that the law and the editor of the local paper ignored evidence supporting a self-defense plea. While the Sheriff and the editor express some misgivings, the Deputy refuses to give up his hate. As all of this is going on, it is now daytime yet the town remains dark, upon investigation the people learn that the phenomenon is localized and the sun is shining brightly just outside the town. Hate remains powerful and even though there is a clear sign from a force more powerful than humans, preparations for the hanging continue. The high point is when the townspeople gather, leaving the headlights of their cars on so that they can see Jagger being taken to the gallows. A black preacher that tries to get him to make some type of confession and appeal to grace meets him at the base of the gallows. Jagger refuses to do so, going to his death reluctantly but steadfastly. The episode closes with a radio commentator noting that the same form of localized blackness has descended on many areas around the world. The area that I noted with particular interest was North Vietnam. This episode uses the darkness metaphor to represent what hate does to humans, however I am uncertain as to how to interpret the reference to North Vietnam. It could have been a warning that the United States should avoid further involvement in that war or it could be interpreted to mean that North Vietnam is an area of concentrated hate. The appearance of George (Goober) Lindsey as a thug in a lawman's uniform was another high point of this dark (literally and figuratively) episode.
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