Twilight Zone Marathon: “Five Characters in Search of an Exit”

ImageHello everyone, and welcome to the first day of October aka my Twilight Zone Marathon! I decided to go completely random with my choices, and I have a special one planned for Halloween. Until then, my first Twilight Zone episode is “Five Characters in Search of an Exit.”

The premise is pretty simple. An army major, a clown, a ballerina, a hobo and a bagpipe player all find themselves stuck in a strange, grey, cylinder-shaped room. All of them have no memories about who they are or why they’re there. With no apparent doors to be found, they must work together to escape. But what could be waiting for them on the other side?

As with many Twilight Zone episodes, there is a twist ending that I won’t spoil here. Instead, I’d like to share my thoughts on the build-up to it.

I felt the plot of this story, while simple, was pretty effective. The characters try to figure out where they could be, which involves several plausible (well, for the Twilight Zone) explanations. And while none of them come to the correct conclusion, you can’t help but root for them to escape their prison.

Since the characters all have no idea who they are, even their own names, a lot of their personalities are based around being trapped. They don’t even adhere to what they’re wearing. For example, the clown mentions a couple times that he has no knowledge of ever being a clown despite dressing as one. It makes them a lot more intriguing and keeps you guessing about who they once were. While the hobo and bagpipe player don’t have as much to say, I did enjoy the clown, ballerina and the major. The major is appropriately freaked out about being trapped and is determined to escape by any means necessary. He takes the leadership role you’d expect a guy like him would take. The ballerina is a little creepy at times due to how calm she is, having basically accepted her fate of being trapped. She does come around when an escape option is presented. And the clown is a mix of pure ham and a bit of sophistication. He’s also kind of cowardly, in that he’d rather accept that they can’t get out than risk the unknown. However, he also comes around in the end as well.

While it’s not your typical scary story, “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” does carry tension and suspense. The goal of escape is what drives the episode and, even if it looks like the odds are against them, makes you hope they do get out and find happiness. The twist ending, while I already knew about it, was effective and appropriate with all the clues they build up about the characters and their surroundings.

Now, I won’t be scoring these Twilight Zone episodes with a number scale. However, I would definitely recommend this episode to anyone looking for suspense over horror. It’s also a great look at how humans may act in a similar situation. “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” gets my seal of approval.


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