The Obsolete Man: A Dystopian Future Episode of Twilight Zone!

I have always enjoyed this episode but it’s definitely not without flaws. If it is didacticism that Serling strives for then he loses his audience almost from the start. The world he creates here pushes the tolerance of the audience. It is ominous simply for the sake of being ominous. A world populated by mindless, monotone citizens absolutely devoted to a callous, faceless government. The audience never really gets the sense of what the structure of this imagined future is supposed to accomplish, or what exactly constitutes a person or idea as being “obsolete.” Serling simply fills his dystopia with any restriction of personal freedom that allows him to get his point across which is simply that totalitarianism is bad and a lack of free will is never fun. His plot is also littered with implausible circumstances, the most notable of which is that the Chancellor diligently accepts Wordsworth’s invitation to join him in his room on the night of his execution. Why doesn’t the Chancellor bring any kind of entourage or security with him? What if he doesn’t show up at all? This would spoil Wordsworth’s plan and would end Serling’s script rather abruptly. But despite all of these limitations this episode still manages to work quite well and, in many ways, still evokes in the audience the moral dread that Serling intended.


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