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The Outer Limits - Original

Season 1 Episode 3

The Architects Of Fear

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Sep 30, 1963 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
65 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

A group of intellectuals decides that the best way to avoid World War III is to give the world a common enemy. To that end, they transform a man into an alien creature.

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  • Jeez, what a bunch of bozos.

    Another Outer Limits episode which just basically turns out to be so much smoke and mirrors. And what exactly was that weird little alien dude scurrying around anyway? Where did it come from? Was that ever explained? If it was, I'm afraid that it eluded my notice. So anyway, Culp is given ever more reason to rue his participation in this program as things go on, and by the end the effect (on me, at least) is not, "Wow, what a noble effort to end all internecine strife on our planet!" but more like, Jeez, what a bunch of bozos. And the Control Voice pretty much seems to be admitting at the end that the whole past hour was pretty goofy. (lol)moreless
  • The best laid intentions often go astray...

    This episode is interesting on many levels. A group of men clandestinely decide that for the better of the population, they must engineer an alien threat that would insure the populace would never move towards World War III. It is pretty engaging to see the levels that the group go to met their goal: faking an accident that supposedly kills the ' volunteer', performing a series of tests to alter the volunteer's appearance, etc. The acting by those featured are solid with Robert Culp ( an actor who appears often in this series) solid in his role to the end. Although the ending is a bit abrupt for my liking, it is a good episode to watch.....moreless
  • Allen Leighton is chosen to undergo a surgical alteration into a mutant. It is hoped that a mutual fear of this creature, and promised attacks, will prevent nations from going to war. Complications arise when Leighton's pregnant wife becomes suspicious.moreless

    The only flaw in this incident is that the threat by the creature is not enough. What if the bluff is called? This is only a minor glitch, because the rest of the story is so wonderfully written and acted. Robert Culp is terrific as Leighton. His wife is equally as good. It is obvious that they are very much in love (and not just because she becomes pregnant). A hand signal (heart to heart) is woven into the story neatly. At the end **spoiler alert** the creature lands its ship in the woods by the lab and is shot by hunters. Terribly wounded, it hobbles into the lab. Spotting the frightened wife, it repeats their hand signal (heart to heart). Now she knows the truth! As the scientists rush in, the creature dies, and with it, so does their foolish dream.moreless
  • A strange episode that starts with unexplained events and ends with unexplained events, but we got a monster.

    This episode is strange in that it starts out with a shot of a rocket plumeting to earth, and cuts to people running in a panic on the streets of a city. Then the rocket explodes in the desert in a nuclear fireball explosion. I am assuming that the writers were attempting to correlate a nuclear attack with the panic of the peoples, but the use of a rocket test is confusing. But this does lead into the heart of the story if you can get past the confusion of the opening sequence. The issue at hand is how to protect the American people from attack, and keep waring countries in line after the first and second world wars and the advent of nulcear bombs. A group of think tank physicists are shown sitting in a meeting duscussing their plan. The plan is to biologically change a human into some sort of venician monster, and use this as a means to instill fear into the countries participating in the UN thus getting them to comply with peaceful endeavors out of fear or alien reprisals. The holes in the story start from the very beginning. The lead physicist introduces the final plans for the idea to the other participants as agreed. They are there to draw lots to see who would be the human they turn into this monster from outer space. They have a cage there from which eminates strange creature sounds indicating they have a creature from Venus, which they intend to use to create their creature from a human subject. It begs two questions, one is where they got this creature to begin with, and second, why transform a human when they already have what they seek. In any event, they draw lots and the character played by Robert Culp loses, and is their human test subject. Culp is then subjected to several tests and is fearless and steadfast in his resolve to go through with his assignment and subsequent fate. The problem is, is that Culp is married, and his wife is very much in live with him. Why they would even allow participants in the lottery who were married is another big question. As he is to get his first transformation injection, his wife stops by to see him, but they turn her away. Culp hears this, but still insists on continuing with the transformation. After a few days of injections, and reaching the point of no return, they have Culp leaving on an alleged assignment. There are emotional goodbyes as his wife is so pained by his having to leave, they make it obvious she is so in Love with her husband. On the other hand the viewer is thinking the B word about him as we know they plan on faking his death and breaking her heart. A few days later, the affects of the injections are starting so show on Culp and his skin is changing to a lizard like look. His wife stops by on the way home from shopping to see her husband and give him the good news, she is pregnant. But the lead scientist cuts her off and gives her the bad news, her husband died in a tragic accident. She is devastated. Culp, the cold hearted B, hears the whole thing and shows no outward emotion. As the transformation progresses, they must have had a need to fill in time so they do a sequence where Culp goes out of control and starts off on a rampage where he breaks up the lab and assults the scientists. They attribute this to some hormornal issue and take care of it with more injections. The scientists now perform a huge operation where they remove Culps lungs and other organs and prepare for him to survive as a nitrogen based being, and leave his carbon based existance forever. Eventually we see the monster, but only through a sheet hung in the lab as a shiloette. They begin to communicate with the monster via mind waves and a computer. They determine that all is well and that the transformation is complete and the operation was a success. They review the plan to send him into deep space on a mission at which time they are to intentionally lose contact. In the mean time the creature is to alter course and appear to come from AlphaCentauri and land in New York at the UN. There he is to present himself as a creature from another planet with specific threats that if humans do not get along, that his fellow creatures would destroy earth. We next see the rocket soaring off into space, and they lose contact. The Scene then cuts to the scientists who are watching for the rocket to reappear in a different sector and head to earth. Eventually they see the ship, but realize its off course. They discover that its headed back to the lab facility. It crash lands in the nearby woods just as a group of hunters gets out of their car to do some hunting. Out in the woods the hunters wonder what was happening and start off into the woods. They come across the creature and one takes a shot at it. Meanwhile back at the maternity store his wife feels the pain of the gunshot and jumps in a cab and heads off to the lab. She sees the lab door is ajar and goes inside. She looks around and sees all the equipment but no sign of her husband. She does find the original creature though in its cage, but is not frightened when she peers into its cage. Out in the woods the Culp as the creature uses a ray gun to disintegrate the hunters car. This made no sense as the car had done nothing, you would expect that he would shoot the darn hunters who were shooting at him. After destroying the car he takes off leaving the hunters dazed and confused as to what they saw and what had happened. The scene cuts to the lab and shows the creature descending the stairs. It goes into the lab and confronts his wife who is scared but not outwardly frightened. The scientists finally arrive to see what is happening. The creature appears weak. It touches its forhead and points to his wife indicating to her that it was her husband as it was something he did to her all the time to reasure her and tell her he will always be with her in her memories. Just then she realizes its her husband, and the creature collapses and dies. Its unclear as to exactly what happened at the end. Did the creature get love sick and go back to the lab deliberately in hopes of finding his wife there? Did it get sick in space, and go back there knowing the experiment was a failure? Did the gunshot kill him or did the transformation kill him? You would have expected that these brilliant scientists would have made sure that the creature was indestructable if it was going to threaten the countries of the world and freighten them into being peaceful. If one gunshot or a broken heart took it out, it wasn't much of a monster.moreless
Robert Culp

Robert Culp

Allen Leighton

Guest Star

Leonard Stone

Leonard Stone

Dr. Phillip Gainer

Guest Star

Martin Wolfson

Martin Wolfson

Dr. Herschel

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • When the scientists take Allen away in the elevator, it's clear that it's merely a studio mockup. There's no metal strip on the floor to indicate where the floor ends and the elevator begins.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Control Voice: (opening narration) Is this the day? Is this the beginning of the end? There is no time to wonder. No time to ask why is it happening, why is it finally happening. There is time only for fear, for the piercing pain of panic. Do we pray? Or do we merely run now and pray later? Will there be a later? Or is this the day?

    • Gainer: Now I don't care what reading of history you take. The pattern is always the same. Whenever a bacterium invasion strikes or a fire rages or a wild beast roams the streets. Then and only then do men stop fighting each other and work together to save themselves. A common enemy, a common fear. That is the only answer. If all the men of the Earth are threatened by an enemy from a hostile planet... well, gentlemen, we are going to create that enemy.

    • Gainer: Ah, yes, I see a long journey in your future. During which you will become a small, dark stranger.

    • Allen: Stay back. Stay back. You think your putty little hands can hold Prometheus? Odysseus? Tychostar?

    • Allen: Can it really work?
      Gainer: Allen, there are no absolutes. You know that better than anyone. I put your probability of success at 70, 80%. Millions of soldiers have gone into battle, wars of hate, with less odds. And with less cause.
      Allen: I... did need that. Thanks.

    • Yvette: You killed him. And for what?
      Gainer: Yvette... if he could go so far to save us all, maybe everywhere people... all of us might be shamed into stopping just a little to save ourselves.

    • Control Voice: (closing narration) Scarecrows and magic and other fatal fears do not bring people closer together. There is no magic substitute for soft caring and hard work, for self-respect and mutual love. If we can learn this from the mistake these frightened men made, then their mistake will not have been merely grotesque. It will have been at least a lesson--a lesson at last to be learned.

  • NOTES (1)

    • The creature in this episode was judged by some local TV stations to be too frightening for younger viewers, so the final scenes with the creature were not aired in some markets.


    • Allen: I am Caliban. With a PhD.
      Referencing the hideous beastman in Shakespeare's The Tempest. The son of a devil, Caliban is found by Prospero. Although Prospero initially befriends him, he enslaves Caliban when the beastman tries to rape Miranda.