The Twilight Zone

Season 2 Episode 26

Shadow Play

Aired Unknown May 05, 1961 on CBS

Episode Recap

In a courtroom, defendant Adam Grant is found guilty of murder in the first degree. Grant seems curiously unconcerned, but is called by judge to rise and hear sentence. When the judge asks if he wishes to say anything, Grant says nothing. The judge orders his execution at midnight that night and Grant starts laughing hysterically. He says that he won't die again and rushes the judge, only to be taken away by the bailiffs. He yells at the district attorney, Henry Ritchie, that if he's executed then everyone else dies with him.

In his cell, Adam snaps at Coley, who is playing the harmonica incessantly. Grant claims that he got Coley out of a bad movie he once saw. Jiggs advises Grant not to snap, noting that another Phillips, has lost it. Grant describes the exact process of the execution in excruciating detail, as if he had been there repeatedly.

At home, Ritchie is preparing for a steak supper with his wife when newspaper editor Paul Carson arrives. Carson is drunk and pours himself another drink, and a furious Carol Ritchie doesn't want to hear any more. Once she's left, a frightened Carson tries to convince Ritchie that Grant is telling the truth and he should talk to Grant.

Grant is in his cell waiting for Ritchie, who he expects to be there at about 9. When Jiggs tells him the time based on his wristwatch, he notes that prisoners aren't allowed watches. Ritchie arrives right on time and the DA notes that Grant isn't surprised to see him. Grant explains that the DA always comes, but it isn't always Ritchie, and he knows exactly what Ritchie is going to say. When the DA tries to understand, Grant explains that the entire situation is his nightmare, and if he dies then everyone else disappears with him. He points out all the inconsistencies, that Ritchie wouldn't be allowed to see him and he knows nothing about Grant's past. Ritchie tries to shake Grant's story but the prisoner insists that everyone in the dream thinks they have their own reality. When Ritchie wonders why Grant is concerned since he can just wake up, Grant explains that he keeps reliving the same dream over and over. He snaps and promises Ritchie he'll dream something different, then tells Ritchie that he'll change his wife's steak to a pot roast. Ritchie arrives home with Carson and finds that his supper is now a pot roast just like Grant said.

In his cell, Grant talks to Jiggs and points out how he could be tried and sentenced on the same day, and everything is just like a movie. It's 15 minutes to midnight and Carson and Ritchie are nervously watching the clock. Father Beaman arrives and Grant finally recognizes him as having died years ago in real life. The warden leads Grant to the execution chamber.

Carson tries to convince Ritchie that at the very least, Grant is insane and they should appeal to the governor to get a stay of execution. Ritchie finally agrees and calls the governor. He tries to explain and the governor agrees… just as the clock strikes midnight. Furniture starts disappearing and then everything goes black…

Grant finds himself back in the courtroom. This time Jiggs is the judge, Phillips is the defense attorney, Father Beaman is the DA, and Carson is the jury foreman. Everything starts to replay over again, exactly as before.