Take “Two”: TZ’s Powerful Season 3 Opener

As someone who runs a Twitter page that quotes The Twilight Zone daily, I shouldn’t be a fan of “Two”, should I? The Season 3 opener, after all, is largely silent.

two26

On the contrary. I may not place it in my top 25, but I actually rate it quite highly. For an episode that doesn’t have much to say, “Two” says a lot.

It’s anti-war, but not in a preachy, haranguing way. It’s a quiet look at the futility of engaging in an all-out nuclear holocaust with people who, in the end, are a lot like us. And by not shouting, it conveys that idea more powerfully. Writer-director Montgomery Pittman, who also did “The Grave” and “The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank”, deserves a lot of credit.

two23

“Two” is a marvel of set design. True, TZ crew members had the good fortune to film it at the Hal Roach Studio (home of the Little Rascals), which was already abandoned and decaying. But they still needed to create the illusion of years of neglect, and they did it perfectly.

two21

Everything – the streets, the shops, the restaurant kitchen, the barber shop – looks as if no one has touched it in ages. And yet you know an entire film crew is right there, and they’ve just finished making sure everything is in a state of utter disarray.

You can watch it in high definition all you want, and you won’t find any seams. It’s a first-rate job from first shot to last.

two15

The acting, too, is top-notch. Think about it: Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery don’t have a large cast around them. They can’t blend into some crack ensemble. It’s just the two of them, front and center, the whole time. That takes work. Viewers are going to be watching you very carefully — there’s no one else to distract them.

Bronson and Montgomery have no virtually no words either – he gets a few lines, and she gets just one word. There’s no great dialogue from Rod Serling or anyone else to perform.

two3

“If you looked the other actor in the eye and told the truth, and said Rod’s words, you were home free,” Jack Klugman once said. So when you don’t have “Rod’s words”, what then? You have to tell that truth with only your expressions. Your body language. And Bronson and Montgomery are certainly up to the task.

two6

We really feel as if we’re watching two lone survivors coping with a post-apocalyptic world. Montgomery’s feral wariness, and Bronson’s weary resignation, are all the dialogue we need. We see the fear etched on their faces, but we also see an unquenchable desire for things to somehow get back to normal.

It’s that sense of hope that, for me, really distinguishes this episode. Thanks to “Two,” Twilight Zone’s third season was off to a beautiful start.

two25

You can stream “Two” on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. It’s also on DVD and Blu-ray.

***

For a daily dose of Serling, you can follow me on TwitterFacebook or Pinterest. You 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.

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

 

Advertisements

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 09/15/2016, in Twilight Zone and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. This is one of those episodes that I appreciate more, each time that I watch it, Paul. Serling was so good at showing us a possible result of our collective thinking. He makes you think. “Could this happen?” The show also has a timeless quality to it. Thanks for highlighting this one.

    • True, this is definitely one that grows on you. There’s no big TZ-like twist, or dun-dun-DUN moment, but it has this quiet, undeniable appeal. Glad you enjoyed the post, Dan.

  2. Barely recognized her with dark hair! Definitely watching this tonight with the wife, who is a huge Bewitched fan.

    • It’s a different look, to be sure. Hope you both enjoy it!

      • We really enjoyed it. Very little dialogue, very artfully done. I like the TZ nuances that made it familiar, yet strange. The uniforms couldn’t be pegged as being from any particular country or organization, which was cool since it brought a neutrality to the division – it wasn’t like one side was the good guys and one the bad. Instead, these were two survivors in a brutal war who seemed to have nothing left. What threw me for a loop was the gunfire. Definitely didn’t sound or look like a bullet, more like a laser beam, so perhaps this wasn’t even earth, or wasn’t the time period many thought it was?

      • Yes, I like that effect as well — making things appear familiar and yet different. The recruiting posters had a very World War I look to them, I thought.

        As for the gunfire, I think that was intended to underscore what Serling said at the beginning — that the timing of this story was up in the air. Might be past, might be future, and who knows by how much? Which, to me, illustrates how human nature never changes. War and suspicion can occur anywhere, anytime.

  3. An underrated episode, for sure. The choice of Montgomery & Bronson together is such an odd combination, but it works…in that strange TZ-way!

    • Agreed! Their names wouldn’t necessarily jump out at you if you were casting a couple, but for this scenario? It really works.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: