The Outer Limits - Original

Season 1 Episode 31

The Chameleon

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Apr 27, 1964 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
33 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Soldiers investigating the crash of a UFO are massacred. An assassin, Louis Mace, is transformed into an alien so that he can infiltrate and kill the aliens. He finds out that the aliens are peaceful and only acted in self-defense. He then helps the remaining crewman repair his ship and leaves with him.moreless

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  • This is an excellent episode notwithstanding the core idea being a central story point recycled from episode 3, "The Architects of Fear."

    This is an excellent episode notwithstanding the core idea being a central story point recycled from episode 3, "The Architects of Fear." In that episode, Robert Culp instead of Robert Duval is a soldierly man transformed into an alien as part of a strategic deception. Curiously, the scientist who effects the transformation, in both episodes, is played by the same actor, Douglas Henderson.

    There the similarities end as this episode, whose chief writer is the distinguished dramatist, Robert Towne, provides a narrative medium for the recycled idea that is wholly superior to the earlier script. While the first script amounts to a disturbing example of extreme cruelty in service of a preposterous idea, the latter script effectively indicts human fear and the impulse to violence in the face of the unknown.moreless
  • My rating: 7 - Very Good

    "The Chameleon" is a fine story with a terrific performance by Robert Duvall. Duvall plays Louis Mace, a government agent-for-hire, a man detached from the real world who is just realizing his desire to create a new life for himself. I'm not sure what "The Chameleon" would be like without the rock solid Duvall but thankfully we don't have to worry. The alien spacecraft is not convincing as it is a little too small and inside looks a bit too much like the back room of a TV repair shop. The alien facial makeup give the aliens a unique appearance (as is nearly always the case with The Outer Limits), the actor's mouths free to add expressions. The scaly hands of the aliens make little sense as there would be no dexterity possible and they are big and clumsy compared to the basically slight build of the aliens. The transformation of Mace into an alien is not the best, but Duvall's alien giggle is very effective and signals behavior not expected by the doctor. The character of Leon Chambers, the "government man" seems miscast. Howard Caine plays Chambers but Caine is a portly little man who hardly fits the image normally reserved for government authorities. This episode ends up being a small story of a man in search of a purpose for himself and is enjoyable in large part to Duvall's performance.

    My rating: 7 - Very Goodmoreless
Howard Caine

Howard Caine

Leon Chambers

Guest Star

Henry Brandon

Henry Brandon

Gen. Crawford

Guest Star

Robert Duvall

Robert Duvall

Louis Mace

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Control Voice: (opening narration) The race of man is known for its mutability. We can change our moods, our faces, our lives to suit whatever situation confronts us. Adapt and survive. Even amongst the most changeable living things man is quicksilver, more chameleon-like than the chameleon, determined to survive no matter what the cost to others or to himself.

    • Mace: I don't think you understand me, General. I'm not interested in becoming a hero. Nor do I have an overdeveloped sense of duty. I'm doing this because I'm nothing more than an instrument for action. Mr. Chambers knows that also. Between missions, I cease to exist. I am what I've done, and that's not always very pretty. But being ugly is better than being nothing. I have no one, I care for no one, and I'm care for by no one. So all I have is what I can do.

    • Control Voice: (closing narration) A man's survival can take many shapes and the shape in which a man finds his humanity is not always a human one.

  • NOTES (0)