Sunday, October 25, 2020

The Twilight Zone (1959) -- Season 2 Episode 13 (Back There)

There are a lot of ways time travel could go wrong.  True, there are a lot of ways it could go right, but it’s impossible to know how one small change will affect things.  Go back and kill Hitler and Himmler takes over, who could be much worse.  Even if you prevented the deaths of millions, you have no idea what those people would have done.

Is it even possible?  That’s the topic of discussion at the Potomac Club on the night of April 14, 1961.  Even if time travel were possible, could major events be changed?  Peter Corrigan is about to get a very powerful lesson on that in The Twilight Zone.  He’s allowed to go back to April 14, 1865 with just enough time to maybe prevent Lincoln’s assassination.

This puts him in a difficult position.  He knows, but how does he prove it?  For that matter, how does he tell someone without looking guilty?  Peter tries, but gets himself arrested for making a scene.  He’s eventually released to Mr. John Wellington, who subsequently drugs Peter.  By the time Peter awakens, it’s too late.  Then again, this is The Twilight Zone so Peter does effect some change.  It just isn’t the change he expected.

There is some irony in that Peter is the one person who thought time travel was ridiculous.  It had to be him that went back.  There’s a greater sense of futility, though.  It’s possible that Peter could have saved Lincoln.  He wasn’t given the opportunity to prepare, which undoubtedly came at a cost.  Had he been given more time to prepare, he might have avoided certain pitfalls.

There’s no talk of what kind of person or president Lincoln was.  Of course, does that even matter?  How could Peter not try to save someone?  Does it even matter that history would have been altered?  The episode just puts the idea out there, that maybe we live in a universe that has a sick sense of humor.  It gives us just enough that we can try, but not enough that we could reasonably succeed.  If it’s that important, it’s going to happen anyway.


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