Twilight Zone Marathon: “To Serve Man”

ImageWelcome back to my Twilight Zone Marathon! Stories of aliens and space travel are still common today, but they were insanely popular during the time man first walked on the moon. The Twilight Zone featured tons of these stories, and today we’re looking at one of the most popular: “To Serve Man.”

Via flashback, code decipher Michael Chambers recounts the day aliens arrived on Earth. The aliens, called Kanamits, wish to help Earth and end all war and famine. Their mysterious book, titled “To Serve Man” in their language, seems to support this. Are they really Earth’s saviors, or could it there be more to their plans?

This is another episode where I knew the twist but had not seen the rest of the episode. It also continues my current streak of well-acted episodes. Having grown up on many alien stories involving invasions and hostile motives, I like how refreshing it was to have aliens come in on friendly terms from the start. I also liked that while the humans were smart enough to not immediately attack (as Hollywood has often made us be), they also question the motives and do everything possible to ensure the Kanamits are not a threat. In light of that, I thought it was a great idea to have the Kanamits look imposing but speak in a calm, mechanical/telepathic voice.

Aside from the Kanamits and a fellow code decipher named Penny, the main character here is Michael. His job through most of the episode is acting as narrator to the events leading up to that point. While I didn’t get much from his personality, I thought he did a great job telling the story. I also liked that the episode began and ended on him in his current situation. I liked that this episode wasn’t afraid to use the flashback approach, and it still leaves you guessing from the beginning if the situation’s good or bad even as the story progresses.

My only gripe is the fact that I already knew how it ended, so I already knew about his situation. I suppose even if I didn’t that it doesn’t help being conditioned on stories of aliens mostly being bad guys. I think anyone nowadays who comes into this episode for the first time would automatically have that same suspicion. But for the most part, the episode’s still pretty effective when you stop and think about it.

All that said, I liked “To Serve Man.” It was a fun take on the “aliens visit Earth” type of story and the twist still holds up. It got me thinking about the various alien stories out there and their impact on me. I recommend this one to any sci-fi fan be they old school or modern.

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