The Twilight Zone

Season 3 Episode 15

A Quality of Mercy

2
Aired Unknown Dec 29, 1961 on CBS
7.4
out of 10
User Rating
94 votes
3

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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A gung ho young soldier gets a new viewpoint on war when he inexplicably changes places with a Japanese officer trying to stop his superior from leading a charge against American forces.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • silly theme

    1.0
    It has a ridicilious theme of the World War II Japanese military showing humanity--they suually did not -such as the Bataan death MArch, the hell ships. It would have been better if the gung ho Lt was in the epsiode "The Purple Testamont" and stops being gung ho when he has the "Second sight"
  • I Think I'm Turning Japanese

    8.0
    A nicely written plea for humane behaviour on the part of humanity, it's quite clear that Rod Serling drew upon his own experiences of fighting in the Philippines during WWII when he put this teleplay together. An important moral message and for once delivered with some restraint, as unfortunately many TZ episodes take a rather more hectoring approach.



    On this occasion I did not see the twist in the tale coming and laughed with delight when Lt. Katell went to pick up the damaged binoculars and suddenly found himself transposed into the body of a lieutenant in the Japanese army some three-and-a-half years before. Congratulations should go to the make-up artist who worked on this episode, as it took me several minutes to realise that it was the very same actor, Dean Stockwell, portraying both roles. Stockwell himself deserves some credit here, too, as his impersonation of Japanese English pronunciation was eerily accurate.



    Eagle-eyed viewers may also be pleased to spot another familiar face in the cast, other than Stockwell's, as a rather young-looking Leonard Nimoy appears in the role of Pvt. Hansen.moreless
  • Great example of the need to look at both sides of an issue.

    8.5
    The scene is the end of WWII, August 1945 in the Philippine Islands, and the American infantry is waiting to see if an air strike will work against the Japanese before they are ordered to move in on the ground themselves. They are tired and obviously hope the war ends before they have to kill again (or be killed themselves). Enter Lieutenant Katell, seemingly new to the war and obviously eager to prove himself. He chastises the infintry for being lazy, for having dirty weapons, for possibly being cowards, etc. when they seem hesitant to jump into the action. The Sergeant tries to reason with him, asking why he has such a need to kill, IS he trying to prove himself, and the Lt. only gets angrier, yelling that all the enemy must die whether it's "the first day of the war of the last day of the war, they all get it". Then the Lt. goes to pick his binoculars from the ground, only to find himself on the Japanese side, being called Lt. Yamuri, and the date is May 4th, 1942 - right in the thick of the war. He runs away towards a cave where the Americans proceed to shoot at him! He runs back to the safety of the Japanese camp, where he finds himself trying to question the need to kill all of the Americans against a Captain that uses the exact same logic as he himself has used against the American Sergeant. The Japanese move out, leaving the "sick" Lt. behind, and a shaken Lt. Yamuri picks up his binoculars only to find himself Lt. Katell back on the American side, back in August of 1945. He is still shaken while the men ask what orders he is giving, when they get a radio message that an atomic bomb has been dropped on the Japanese and they are to move out.

    Sgt. Causarano mistakes the Lt's confusion for annoyance that he cannot move forward with his plans to prove his war mettle. He tells the Lt not to fret, that there will be "other caves, other wars, other men you can knock off". And now the Lt, finally understanding the other side of the story, defeatingly states "I hope not. God help us, I hope not!". A very good episode showing that no matter what we think we know, there is always two sides to every story. That right or wrong, death is still death, men are stil men... Especially interesting these days...moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (4)

    • (Opening Narration)
      Narrator: It's August, 1945, the last grimy pages of a dirty, torn book of war. The place is the Philippine Islands. The men are what's left of a platoon of American Infantry, whose dulled and tired eyes set deep in dulled and tired faces can now look toward a miracle, that moment when the nightmare appears to be coming to an end. But they've got one more battle to fight, and in a moment we'll observe that battle. August, 1945, Philippine Islands. But in reality it's high noon in the Twilight Zone.

    • Watkins: Lieutenant, we're about 24 months up on you. Now we've seen enough dead men to last us the rest of our lives. The rest of our lives and then some. Now you got a big yen to do some killing, okay, we'll do some killing for you. But don't ask us to stand up and cheer.

    • Causarano: What's your pleasure, Lieutenant? How many men have to die before you're satisfied?
      Katell: Off hand, all of them. No matter who they are or where they are. If they're the enemy they get it. First day of the war or last day of the war, they get it.

    • (Closing Narration)
      Narrator: "The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It blesseth him that gives and him that takes." Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, but applicable to any moment in time, to any group of soldiery, to any nation on the face of the Earth - or, as in this case, to the Twilight Zone.

  • NOTES (0)

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • The title is taken from Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" (act IV, scene 1). The full quote is "The quality of mercy is not strain'd, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath".

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