The Outer Limits

Season 3 Episode 13

Dead Man's Switch

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Apr 04, 1997 on Showtime
out of 10
User Rating
54 votes

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Episode Summary

Ben Conklin has been a loner ever since his parents died when he was twelve years old. This is one reason why General James Eiger selected him to spend a year buried in a bunker 11,000 feet below the Artic tundra, manning the controls of a doomsday device set up by world leaders after the Hubble space telescope spotted 11 spaceships heading towards Earth. The device is designed as a last-line deterrent against alien invasion and Conklin's job, shared with four other loners in four other bunkers, is to hit a dead man's switch on the bunkers control panel that prevents the doomsday device from going off and destroying aliens and mankind alike. At first, the job is easy, but as the aliens draw closer to Earth, and as Conklin grows closer to his subterranean colleagues, he begins to doubt the reliability of the doomsday machine. News from General Eiger becomes scarce, then Conklin's fellow guardians begin to fall victim to assorted mishaps. Conklin realizes that he carries the weight of the world - and the fate of mankind in the palm of his hand.moreless

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  • Tie for best episode of the Third Season

    Suspenseful, tense episode that leaves you guessing till the final minute. Love this type of storytelling (endings) that Outer Limits is known for.
  • Suspenseful tale of aliens coming to Earth. Are they visiting or invading? Until you get to the end, you can't be sure.

    As Outer Limits goes, this one is pretty good. I can usually figure out what is going to happen by the second or third commercial break, but this one kept me guessing until the very end. The narrative and plot lend itself to to a very natural way of getting to know the characters. Simply put, they start out knowing very little about each other, so it is through their interaction that we find out about them all too. Learning little tid-bits about the different people made me start to wonder about their motivations, and even if they were actual human beings or just AI avatars. There's some nice ambiguity about what happens to each one that kept the story very interesting and, as with all good episodes in this series, the end has enough uncertainty so that I didn't feel like it was all just some big trick. I kept thinking that this was a re-telling of the Twilight Zone episode where they put a soldier in isolation and he goes crazy ("Where is Everybody?"), but, I was pleasantly surprised.moreless
  • This is the kind of quality that makes me love and keep going back and watching this series.

    The premise while certainly not perfect is very believable and quite easy to empathize with the characters after the mood has been set. An alien convoy is detected and their motives are unknown. Five people are placed in bunkers and tasked with manning a deadman's switch that if not pressed will release all of the worlds weapons. Surprisingly the acting is actually not all that bad and pretty good as far as non-primetime standards go. The love interest between the main character and his Russian counterpart seemed sincere. The story will leave you guessing until the last minute of the show.moreless
James LeGros

James LeGros

Lieutenant Ben Conklin

Guest Star

Kristin Lehman

Kristin Lehman

Katya Rubanoff

Guest Star

Donnelly Rhodes

Donnelly Rhodes

General James Eiger

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions