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The Top 10 Most Conservative Episodes of “The Outer Limits”

Posted on January 18 2011 6:00 am

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3) Feasibility Study

The next example of this same theme, and perhaps the most poignant episode of the entire series, is Feasibility Study.

This episode is, perhaps, save for one other (which we will look at next), the one most clearly representative of a sensibility to Christian conceptions of human relations that would be nearly impossible to find in Hollywood science fiction over the last several decades.

The alien beings from the planet Lumina are born much like normal human beings, but as they mature, they become mutated and distorted by a horrible genetic disease that causes massive, tumorous tissue growth over their entire bodies.  In time, they cannot move or do any kind of manual or technical work.  Their solution is to use their vast technology to transport the population of Earth to their own planet for use as slaves, to do all their work and maintain their physical technology.

There is a problem, however, in that the disease may be highly contagious to humans, and if humans are easily infected, the plan becomes pointless (both a doctor’s wife and a neighbor contract the disease just by breathing the same air as the Luminoids).  Given this, they pick a small American town as a “feasibility study” to see if the plan is workable, and transfer it (leaving a gigantic crater-like area where the town once lay) to Lumina.

If infection is rare, the entire population of Earth will be transported to Lumina and enslaved.  If it is common, the plan will be abandoned.  In a deeply moving scene at the end, the infected neighbor, now an ugly and pathetic figure covered with hideous, scab-like sores, comes to a church where the town’s residents have gathered, seeking his wife.  Two large young men are guarding the church door from the inside to make sure no infected person enters.  As he begins pounding on the door, the minister tells them to open it, but they ignore him.  The priest approaches the men and they close ranks, barring his way.  Then the priest, head bowed, solemnly raises his hand above his head, and walks forward.  The two men, respecting his ecclesiastical authority, give way, and he opens the door, to find the man and the doctor’s wife, both infected, seeking their marital companions.

“This man,” says the minister as the man sobs piteously, “who does nothing and still strikes fear in your hearts, is your neighbor.”

The Good Samaritan looms large on this hostile, repugnant, alien world, and the doctor, sensing the full reality of the situation at hand, and with billions of other human lives in the balance, appeals to the assembled townspeople:

There is no escape for us.  Not for us.  We need not suffer the same fate as Ralph Cashman.  Not so long as we stay in our homes and never wander more than six blocks in any direction.  But we will never go back to the world we’ve been stolen from.  Understand that.  Never.

Its a lonely feeling, isn’t it?  But we won’t be lonely very long.  Soon the entire Earth’s population will be teleported to this place.  We will live in labor camps.  We will toil and sweat, and die in controlled areas.  Some of us may become infected.  Contagion can occur even when we breath the same air in a confined space.  But enough of us will survive to make their project feasible.  Out of the whole world of us, enough will survive.  If we survive.

We are their guinea pigs, but we are human guinea pigs, which gives us some choice in this experiment.  Human choice.  We can choose to make their enslavement of our earth infeasible.  We can choose not to escape infection.  We can deliberately become what they are.  My wife has already been infected.  I’m going to take her hand.

Will someone take mine?

One by one, all assembled in the church take each other’s hands in a unity of purpose and ultimate sacrifice.  “Never”, as Winston Churchill said of the pilots who flew in the Battle of Britain, “in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” This story expands that principle and places it on a far more expansive, yet morally and spiritually indistinguishable stage.

Next: Playing God is still just playing…

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