Welcome back to my Twilight Zone Marathon! We’ve always been warned about picking up hitchhikers. Some may turn out to be harmless, but you never know if another will put you in danger. Today’s episode centers around that fear. This is “The Hitch-Hiker.”
Nan Adams is on a road trip from New York to Los Angeles when her car’s tire bursts. As it’s getting fixed, she spots a strange hitchhiker that no one else seems to notice. Along her journey, she continues to see the man and becomes afraid that he’s after her for some reason. But is he really there, or just a figment of her sleep-deprived mind?
I accidentally came across the ending to this one a while ago, but I feel that people could deduce what happens even from the very beginning. That being said, I was really surprised at how quickly the story kicked off involving the hitchhiker. It was almost jarring at first, but I liked that they didn’t waste time getting to it and allowing for the suspense to start building. I felt the episode did a good job capturing the paranoia you would feel from a stranger apparently following you.
The main characters here are the hitchhiker and Nan. The hitchhiker is an almost entirely silent character, but the way he’s constantly appearing out of nowhere gives him an eerie presence. He always acts like a typical hitchhiker, thumb out and all, but the fact that he constantly shows up ahead of Nan and is always smiling is a little unnerving.
Nan is a pretty good character, though her extreme fear of the hitchhiker comes off weird at first. It flows better once it’s been said that she’s been driving almost non-stop, making it seem like the repetition of the drive is getting to her on top of the hitchhiker. A good chunk of her scenes are narrated by her as if they’re her thoughts, and I felt they were done pretty effectively since she’s usually alone.
The twist ending was good and capped off the episode well. The episode overall is light on plot, mostly focused on her seeing the hitchhiker during her drive. We’re dumped right into the action long after she’s left New York and has already begun her trip. Like I said earlier, I liked this aspect and the light plot allowed for better tension and paranoia to come through.
Overall, while a simple episode, “The Hitch-Hiker” has a premise that everyone can understand and pulls it off well. The acting and pacing is good, but don’t expect a bang of an ending. If you like the “quieter” Twilight Zone stories, I’d recommend this one wholeheartedly.