Night Gallery

Season 1 Episode 14

Lone Survivor

Aired Unknown Jan 13, 1971 on NBC

Episode Recap

The Titanic goes down as the few survivors look on from the lifeboats. Sometime later, a ship passing on the ocean spots a lifeboat with one survivor. The captain sends Lt. Richards in a small boat to rescue the one survivor, who appears to be a woman. As they watch, the captain asks his officer, Wilson, if he can make out the name of the originating ship on the lifeboat. Wilson stares and then says it isn't possible, and the captain suggests it may be some kind of practical joke. The captain says that he'll confirm Wilson's report in the log so the Board of Inquiry won't think that Wilson was drinking. Once the captain leaves, another sailor asks Wilson what he saw. Wilson hands him the binoculars and admits that it is impossible: the lifeboat is from the Titanic. The captain arrives on deck as the survivor is brought on board. He's a man, dressed as a woman, and the captain has him sent to the infirmary. The only thing in the lifeboat is a blanket, and Richards notes that it is so encrusted with barnacles that it appears to have been at sea since the Titanic sank. However, if it were that old, the survivor would be long dead. The captain goes to the infirmary and the doctor notes that the survivor is in shock, and he has frostbite on his right foot. However, it is mid-May and the captain points out that there are no icebergs in sight. The captain asks to see the survivor as soon as he can speak. Later, the survivor wakes up and the captain asks what happened to the other crew and passengers. The survivor confirms that he was aboard the Titanic, but can't remember his name. However, the survivor can describe the moment of the crash. He claims ignorance when the captain asks why he was dressed in woman's clothing, and the captain accuses him of posing as a woman to gain access to a lifeboat. The survivor still claims he doesn't remember, and the captain leaves to give him time to consider. As they go, the survivor asks what year it is, and insists that its 1912. The doctor informs him that it's 1915. Outside, the captain tells the doctor that it is some kind of hoax. He figures that the supposed survivor has been carefully coached, but it's clear from his description that he's an experienced sailor. The captain suggests that the survivor might be working for a foreign power, and was put adrift for a specific purpose: to make them change course during the events of the war. He walks away with the doctor... past a life preserver identifying the ship as the Lusitania. Later, the doctor talks to the survivor and tries to get answers. The survivor admits that he was a stoker, and knows what ship he is on despite the fact that no one has told him. He tells the doctor that when the Titanic went down, he was so frightened that he'd do anything to survive. The crew wasn't allowed in the lifeboats, so he dressed as a woman and threw himself into a lifeboat. One of the lowering cables broke and the lifeboat capsized, but the survivor managed to hang on when the others didn't. He looked up and watched as hundreds of others looked down on him as the Titanic sank into the ocean. The doctor insists that he's suffering from a hallucination and couldn't have survived in an open boat for three years. The survivor tells him that the Lusitania will be hit by a torpedo in 18 minutes. The doctor suspects he's a German agent, but the survivor explains that he's a Flying Dutchman, condemned to an eternity of lifeboats, rescues, and sunken ships. The doctor tells the captain what the survivor has told him, and insists that the survivor believes what he's saying. The captain doesn't, and asks why they're to be punished for the survivor's cowardice. The doctor explains that the survivor believes that only he will be aware of it, and they are phantoms there to people the scene. The captain points out that he doesn't feel like a ghost... and then realizes that the rest of the crew has disappeared, along with the lifeboat. No one responds to his call to the bridge, and the engines grind to a halt. The survivor runs out onto the deck and watches as a submarine fires a torpedo. He tries to warn the crew, but there's no one to hear his cries. The survivor goes to the bridge and watches as the torpedo strikes the ship. Sometime later, a passing ship spots a lifeboat on the ocean with a single occupant. The captain sends a small boat to make a recovery, and suspects that someone is playing a joke. The lifeboat has the name Lusitania on it, which sank forty years ago. The rescue ship departs... from the Andrea Doria.