Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Season 3 Episode 6

Day Of Evil

Aired Monday 7:30 PM Oct 23, 1966 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • They may have been trying to save money by having Basehart and Hedison double as the alien, but they both did a superb job of it. Just looking, you could tell when they were in alien mode...and it really creeped me out.

    It started a bit oddly. Seaview has spotted something "too slow for a meteorite, too fast for a plane". Yet they intend to ignore it, as they are scheduled to rendezvous with the fleet. Given their previous encounters with such things (just in the previous episode, in fact) you'd think that checking a potential hazard would take priority. As it turns out, the situation refuses to be ignored. The moment the object hits the water, Seaview's reactors start rising toward the critical level. After dithering about for a few moments (still thinking of that important rendezvous) Crane and Nelson decide that the situation must be dealt with immediately--only the reactors won't shut down via remote control.

    Patterson has the ill luck to be in the Missile Room when Crane orders Sharkey to detail someone to suit up, go to the Reactor Room, and shut down the pile manually. Here is another oddity. Even though the corridors are sealed off as Patterson undertakes his dangerous chore, you'd think that the Reactor Room would be better designed to minimize contamination. They should have a double-door system in place. As Patterson opens the door, billows of presumably radioactive steam pour out. Patterson spots a figure in the room, obscured by steam. Horrified at the danger the person is in, Patterson leaps to drag him out of the room. After a brief wrestling match, the person lays a hand on Patterson's face, searing it with a strange pattern like an elongated red star. Patterson falls out the hatchway and collapses in the corridor (leaving the door hanging open and more radiation coming out). Some sort of explosion occurs (not sure just what; it couldn't have been the reactors themselves). The Seaview lurches violently, tossing men here and there. Rather ominously, Patterson just skids limply around on the floor. The person in the Reactor Room is revealed to be--Admiral Nelson?--looking vastly amused at the situation.

    There's a nice shot of the Seaview diving nose first into the sandy bottom. She has sustained heavy damage. Crane and a team head down to the Reactor Room, finding Patterson unconcious. Sharkey pulls Crane back from entering the room--the radiation is now so high that just a few moments of exposure would be lethal. Back at the Control Room, Crane and Morton glumly review the situation. Seaview is in imminent peril; they can't get to the reactors to shut them down, and the emergency generator that's keeping them alive and functioning will only last an hour or so. "Nelson" suddenly appears, and, without offering any possible solutions to the problem, orders Crane to prepare a nuclear missile for firing. Never mind that there's no apparent reason for doing so, or that they cannot fire without clearance from the White House--it's to be done, now. Crane reluctantly complies, then turns to find that "Nelson" has vanished. Crane doesn't have much time to dwell on it. He's been called to Sickbay.

    This next scene is very tense, as well as moving. Paul Trinka not being a "star", it was quite possible that they had decided to remove his character permanently. Doc tells Crane that, in addition to the odd burn that almost looks like a brand, Patterson has accepted a lethal dose of radiation. ("Accepted" is an odd way of putting it; it makes it sound as if Patterson did it willingly.) Crane visibly gathers himself for the meeting with Patterson, putting on a cheerful aspect. Patterson quite probably was aware of the situation, but he wasted no time dwelling on it. He tells Crane of the man he found in the Reactor Room...whom he was able to recognize. Crane, understandably, checks with Doc to see if either radiation or sedation could have made Patterson delirious. He then heads straight for Nelson's cabin.

    Crane finds Nelson unconcious, apparently knocked out when Seaview was lurching about. This, I believe, is a first. Men hardly even get injured during the rock 'n rolls, let alone knocked out. Could the alien have had a hand in it? Crane indirectly accuses Nelson of murdering Patterson, to Nelson's outrage. He also comments on the prepped nuclear missile, which Nelson denies having ordered. While Nelson suggests that Patterson was off his head in describing Nelson as his attacker, he offers no explanation for Crane and Morton having seen him in the Control Room. Even more strange, neither Crane nor Nelson give orders to dismantle the missile. Nelson is in a hurry to save his ship, and Crane, perhaps realizing that Nelson is the only one who can do it, sets aside his concerns for the moment.

    Nelson suggests flooding the Reactor Room. Water is a natural radiation shield. (No one comments on the dangers of water hitting all those active instrument panels; either they didn't think about it or they're all watertight.) Kowalski leads a diving team outside to drill a small hole in Seaview's hull to admit the water, but is foiled when an enexplicable electrical charge knocks them away. Down to ten minutes of emergency power, Nelson grimly points out the fact that Patterson, already dying, has nothing to lose by getting more radiation exposure. Crane may have been shocked, but was quick to see the practicality of it, and heads down to Sickbay to propose the idea to Patterson. Unfortunately, before he could get there, "Nelson" pops up in Sickbay and puts Patterson into a coma. Doc points out that, in the unlikely possibility that he could revive Patterson, he would probably be too weak to undertake anything. There's only one choice left. Someone has to manually shut down the reactors--and was there anyone who didn't know that it was Crane, even before he pulled his mask off? Crane, like Patterson, collapses in the corridor, leaving the door hanging open.

    Kowalski notes that radiation levels are dropping. Everyone is overjoyed--but Nelson is startled that Crane has not returned. Going down to Sickbay, he finds Crane long gone--and Patterson unconcious. Nelson must have known instantly what had happened. He and Sharkey rush down to the Reactor Room, to find what they don't want to see.

    Sharkey no doubt knew the truth, but tried to ignore it. Doc spelled it out for him: Crane was going to die. No power on Earth could save him. In a wave of frustration, Nelson bursts out that he would make a deal with...with the stars if they could help. This statement sounded rather odd, as you'd expect a phrase about dealing with the devil. Perhaps he was influenced by Doc's mention of Earth. Back at the Control Room, neither Nelson or Sharkey see fit to inform the men of Crane's sacrifice. Perhaps Nelson did not want to throw a damper on the crew's relief from their peril, or perhaps, like Sharkey, he thought that ignoring the truth might make it go away.

    Going to his cabin to brood, Nelson is startled, to put it mildly, to see an image of himself in the room--a bright eyed gremlin of a duplicate who sounded half a step away from bursting into maniacal laughter. The creature reveals that it amuses him to take on various forms. It gives him a certain advantage. (Not to mention the fact that Nelson would be unlikely to deal with him if he looked like something the cat heaved up on the carpet.) The creature is most amused at Nelson's reactions, and says that he's come to take Nelson up on his offer. Nelson denies making any such offer, and the creature responds by showing him a replay of the scene in Sickbay. (Nelson could have called him on this, as the creature is obviously not an actual star, which is what Nelson called on.) The creature offers to save Crane's life--and, as a nonchalant afterthought, Patterson's as well. However, he refuses to specify just what he wants Nelson to do in return. Nelson, logically, refuses--but then his emotions kick in, thinking of his friend dying, and he agrees, shaking hands with the alien. As a result, the same red mark is burned into his hand, and Nelson collapses.

    When Nelson fails to respond to hails, Morton sends Sharkey to his cabin to check on him. Nelson is groggy, and his hand obviously hurts him, but he insists to Sharkey that he is all right--getting angry when Sharkey shows his concern. Sharkey mentions that he had not yet told anyone of the Captain's imminent death, but he will do so now. Nelson forstalls him, and within moments, Doc calls Nelson, asking him to come to Sickbay. You can tell by his voice that something peculiar has happened, but Sharkey assumes the worst.

    Down in Sickbay, Crane is fine--not getting better, but completely well. Nelson is overjoyed, but gets a sharp reminder of the situation when he shakes hands with Crane. Doc pulls him aside to treat the burn on his hand, while Crane shows Sharkey that Patterson is also fully recovered. They also find that Patterson's burn has vanished. None of them choose to look a gift horse in the mouth by speculating on just how these miracles occurred.

    Crane and Patterson get back on duty, repairs are underway, and Seaview resumes course to the rendezvous point. Everything's returning to normal--and then the alien calls in the debt. He wants Nelson to fire the nuclear missile at the fleet. The reactions and counter-reactions to this act will leave the Earth a smoking pile of devastation, unfit for life as we know it--but quite suitable for the alien's, whose world is facing a population explosion and needs new territory to colonize. His sadistic glee in describing the situation is harrowing to watch--and makes his statement about being psychologically unable to kill sound very peculiar.

    Nelson points out that Failsafe cannot be circumvented--but the alien has already done so. It's only left for Nelson to open the final remaining panel with his key and push the button. Nelson's agreement--and, notably, the handshake--has caused Nelson's will to be given over to the alien. The tension builds and builds, as Nelson slowly turns the key and...almost...pushes the button. The alien points out that, having saved Crane, he can also allow him to die again. This is a pretty silly argument, because what would be the point of Nelson saving Crane, only to have him--and every single other bit of life on the planet--be killed off shortly thereafter?

    Frustrated, the alien moves to plan B. Crane has the first stabbing pain of radiation poisoning. Meanwhile, Kowalski has spotted one of the Failsafe mechanisms completely open and lit up for war. He and Sharkey have one of their comical exchanges, which falls a little flat, considering the desperate situation. Thinking that there has been some massive glitch in Failsafe, Crane heads down to the Missile Room--presumably the Failsafe mechanism there is the main one. He finds that Patterson is not suffering a recurrence of radiation poisoning. Everyone clears out of the room--or so Crane thinks. In partial collapse from the intense pain, he looks up to find a second Crane regarding him with mock sympathy. (Hedison's portrayal didn't have the maniacal glee of Basehart's at this point, but it was still excellent.) He offers Crane the same deal. Crane tries to refuse but his pain is considerable--and the alien is persuasive. He takes its hand, is burned, and collapses.

    The alien, still looking like Crane, promptly goes to the Control Room, accuses Nelson of sabotaging Failsafe, and orders him arrested and put in the brig. Nelson instantly realizes who he must be, but of course no one else is inclined to believe him, and "Crane" makes a good point that only Nelson has the knowhow to sabotage Failsafe. Sharkey is detailed to escort Nelson to the brig. Nelson attempts to go to the Missile Room, instead. This scene is odd, because Nelson at first seems to take it for granted that Sharkey will understand and go along with him. Sharkey, of course, thinks that Nelson's mental ship has blown ballast, and struggles with him. Experience wins out, and Nelson puts Sharkey down--taking time to gently prop him against a wall!

    Crane, meanwhile, is now facing his own debt to the alien. Like Nelson, he tries to refuse. The alien points out that Crane's will is weaker than Nelson's. He cites Crane's pain and physical weakness as being a factor in this, but I was really expecting Crane to hold out out of sheer spite. Crane pushes the button just as Nelson comes in the room. David Hedison now lets the maniacal glee rip, sounding like a mad scientist as he screams at Nelson that it's too late. Nelson jumps forward and hits the Abort control, which the alien has overlooked. The missile explodes in midair (which presumably would still cause some problems, but we don't know about them). I was hoping that Nelson would then turn to the alien, and say sarcastically, "You were saying?" You would think that the alien, thwarted, would retaliate by letting Crane die all over again--but of course you can't do that to a star. Wish they'd tossed in a line of explanation, though.

    Apparently the alien simply vanished out of the Missile Room, because we see Nelson casually stride down a corridor, only to halt in surprise as he faces the alien, once again looking like Nelson himself. The alien's fellow creatures do not like failure, and he is being recalled--but they'll be back....

    Actually, they won't be. I can understand why they didn't attempt a sequel--as Nelson pointed out, they would be ready next time, so logically, if the alien (or a colleague) did return, they would find someone else on the planet to do their dealing with. (Or perhaps it occurred to the idiots to find an uninhabited planet to blow up--there must be a few million of them out there.)

    As alien invasion stories go, this one was pretty good.