Moving Away From “The Midnight Sun”

If you’re reading this from anywhere in North America, I don’t have to tell you it’s beyond cold right now.

We’re talking ARCTIC. Record low temperatures are being broken all over. It makes me think of The Twilight Zone‘s “The Midnight Sun.”

The Midnight Sun Title Card

Oh, no — not the main story. That’s something to quote in July or August. I’m talking about the ending — one of the most legendary twists in TZ history.

Well, no point just sitting here being cold. Why pass up an ideal moment to quote the perfect scene for an insanely chilly day?

Try this link if you’ve never seen the episode, but otherwise join me as we look in on Norma, Mrs. Bronson (her landlady), and a doctor on a very cold and snowy night …

midnight sun5

Doctor: “She’s coming out of it now. Norma? Norma?”

Norma: “Yes?”

Doctor: “You were running a high fever, but it’s broken now.”

Norma: “Fever?”

Mrs. Bronson: “You gave us a start, child. You were so ill, but you’re going to be all right now. Isn’t she, doctor? Isn’t she going to be all right?”

4 (11)

Doctor: “Of course.” (quietly to Mrs. Bronson) “I wish I had something left to give her but the medicine’s pretty much all gone now. I won’t be able to come back. I’m going to move my family south tomorrow. My friend has a private plane.”

Mrs. Bronson: “Well, they say on the radio Miami is warmer.”

Doctor: “So they say. But we’re only prolonging it.”

Mrs. Bronson: “There was a scientist on the radio this morning. He was trying to explain what happened. How the earth had changed its orbit and was starting to move away from the sun, and that within one, two, or maybe three weeks at the most, there wouldn’t be any more sun. We’d all freeze.”

2 (11)

Norma: “Oh, Mrs. Bronson. I had such a terrible dream. It was so hot. It was daylight all the time. There was a midnight sun. There wasn’t any night at all. No night at all. Isn’t it wonderful to have darkness? And coolness?”

Mrs. Bronson (warily): “Yes, my dear. It’s wonderful.”

Serling: “The poles of fear, the extremes of how the earth might conceivably be doomed. Minor exercise in the care and feeding of a nightmare, respectfully submitted by all the thermometer-watchers … in the Twilight Zone.”

midnight sun4

Photos courtesy of Wendy Brydge. For a daily dose of Serling, you can follow me on TwitterFacebook or PinterestYou can also get email notifications of future posts by entering your address under “Follow S&S Via Email” on the upper left-hand side of this post. WordPress members can also hit “follow” at the top of this page.

Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!

About Paul

Fanning about the work of Rod Serling all over social media. If you enjoy pics, quotes, facts and blog posts about The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and Serling's other projects, you've come to the right place.

Posted on 02/19/2015, in Twilight Zone and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. *shivers* That shiver was because of the yes, arctic temperature, but also because of that CHILLING dialogue. (Caution: More puns ahead. ;))

    I have to admit that this episode of TZ scares the hell out of me if I think about it for too long. And it’s strange: In reality, I’d much sooner freeze to death than be cooked alive by tropical temps. Yet for some reason, it’s not till the end of “The Midnight Sun” where we learn the temps are actually in the minus digits that, pardon another pun, my blood runs cold.

    Is it likely that this could happen today? Well, maybe it’s not going to happen TOMORROW. But it’s plausible in our world. It’s happened before. It can happen again. The balance of life in the universe is so fragile and I think we really lose sight of that, what with our first world problems of what we’re going to watch on TV tonight, or who’s going to take the trash out when it’s cold. But here’s yet another reason that TZ endures and why it still packs one hell of a wallop 50+ years later – it’s believable. All of Serling’s extraordinary circumstances are based in the ordinary. And that makes for very real-feeling scenarios.

    Serling was always making us think about what’s going on around us. Raising awareness and inspiring hope. I say hope because to be honest, this has helped me to be grateful right now in the midst of this deep freeze: For us, Spring will come. The snow will melt. The trees will come alive once more. And we’ll all be okay. Great and timely post, Boss!

    • Wendy, this must be particularly hard for you given that she’s also an artist.

    • Hey, GF! Yeah, down here! UNDER Dan’s reply to you! Seems I wasn’t quick enough. ;P Oh, well. Story of my blogging life!

      Anyway, I’m very glad you enjoyed this post. Most of my posts are planned well in advance, but this one was truly a spur-of-the-moment one. It’s good to mix those in every now and then, I think. Keeps it fresh.

      And you’re right about how this ending is particularly frightening. I don’t want to be “cooked” either, but there’s something about the thought of drifting endlessly into the cold darkness of space that seems so lonely and depressing. And yes, part of the reason it IS so frightening is because of that believability factor. Sure, the concept is pretty “out there” — who thinks this could happen? Buuuuut …. hmm. There’s that little seed of doubt that makes you say, well, YEAH … how DO I know the earth won’t change its orbit and …

      *shakes head* Just a TV show. JUST A TV SHOW. O_O As you say, Spring will come! And not a moment too soon. :)

  2. I always forget the ending of this episode, Paul. I always remember it as the one with the midnight sun and the burning hot windows and melting paint. I guess I need to watch it again soon. On second thought, maybe I’ll wait until April. :)

    • I wouldn’t blame you for waiting, Dan. Much as I love TZ, I’ve about HAD it with the cold. Fortunately, there are plenty of other great episodes to pick from, some of which were actually filmed in Death Valley … which is somehow looking pretty good right now. O_o

      • 100 yards over the rim – is looking like something I want to watch. Or the one with the guys who landed back on Earth – yeah, something with sun and sweat and thirst. That’s the ticket.

  3. I just moved to a place where it snows after years of living in warm sunny Florida. I couldn’t get out of the driveway and having to wipe off the windshields is quite a shock having to have never had to do those things. I think it’s almost bizarre that I can’t just jump in my car to go get groceries.

    • I know how you feel. Writing this as snow falls outside. Really hoping this is the last snowfall of the season, though I know I can’t complain like the poor folks up in Boston. Florida’s looking better all the time!

  4. The thing that is driving me insane today is the feeling that I read this as a short story. On the page, in print.

    Since Rod Serling got many ideas from sci fi greats, like Matheson, I assumed it would be easy for me to find that story today. but I cannot.

    The strong impression made by a can of juice being offered to the older woman is one that comes from reading at an early age…probably in the 70’s or 80’s. I tend to remember things with images of the printed words if I read them, rather that the sound of spoken words, or images, if I saw them.

    Could this have been made into a written short story and anthologized somewhere? I immediately was searching Ray Bradbury’s work first.

    So frustrating.

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