Of all the Twilight Zone episodes I've ever watched in my life, none scared the ____ out of me more than this one. I know that terms like "chilling" and "spine-tingling" tend to get used a lot with these Twilight Zone episodes, but there really aren't many words that epitomize them quite as well. The story begins in Pennsylvania with Nan Adams, a woman who has been in a car accident on a cross-country road trip from New York to Los Angeles. She gets fixed up and laughs the experience off as being "cheaper than a funeral." As she's about to leave, she notices a scrawny man with his thumb up, trying to hitch a ride. Nan just takes off, pretending not to notice him. However, this hitch-hiker keeps appearing and reappearing on the streets she happens to be driving. With each time she sees him, she gets more and more terrified and perplexed until he's all she can think about. A few scary moments are thrown in for good measure during the episode. In one scene, she's stopped on the road by a foreman telling her there's a delay and she'd need to stay put. She sees the hitch-hiker approaching her car and she freezes in fear. He pokes his head in her passenger side window with his thumb outstretched and asks, "Heading... west?" She flips out and high-tails it out of there. Eventually, she reaches Arizona and decides that if she doesn't call her mother to hear a warm, familiar voice, she's gonna lose her mind. She calls her own number on a pay phone and an unknown woman answers. This woman reveals that her mother has been hospitalized on account of a nervous breakdown. Then comes the zinger. (SPOILER COMING)
The mother's breakdown was caused by... the death of her daughter. The eerie music starts playing as the woman on the phone goes on to explain that Nan Adams was killed in a car accident in Pennsylvania six days ago, when the car she was driving blew a tire and overturned. At this point, Nan realizes the truth and an inner monologue takes place as she slowly walks back to her car. Her voice is heard talking about how she's all of a sudden become this numb, cold shell of a person. She goes on to say, "Ahead of me stretch a thousand miles of empty mesa, mountains, prairies, desert. Somewhere among them he's waiting for me. Somewhere I'll find out who he is. I'll find out. I'll find out what he wants. But just now, for the first time, looking out at the night, I think I know." As the creepy music hits a high point, you see Nan back in her car. The camera swivels from her face to the back of her head as she is seen getting ready to adjust her rear view mirror. All you see in the mirror once it's adjusted is the Hitch-Hiker's face and knowing smile as he delivers the mother of all freaky lines: "I believe you're going... my way." The camera shows Nan's defeated, yet calm face. You only see her in the car, but her eyes are fixed on the rear view mirror as the episode ends. The music for this episode is perfect, especially at the end. It's the kind of episode that'll make your bones quiver. I'm not even a woman and I'm freaked out at the very thought of that happening to me. If you want to entice someone into becoming a Twilight Zone fan, show them this episode. Seriously. There's no way they won't come away from it without saying something to the effect of, "Wow, that is seriously messed up!"