Monday, February 22, 2021

THE OUTER LIMITS / "Demon with A Glass Hand" - 1964

Today's story is about a man from the future that has the duty to save humanity from an invasion by an evil race from a distant planet. Written by Harlan Ellison and directed by Byron (THE WAR OF THE WORLDS) Haskin.

It stars Robert (I SPY) Culp, Arlene (Spock's Vulcan bride in the original STAR TREK) Martel, Abraham (HEAD) Sofaer and Rex (PANIC IN YEAR ZERO) Holman.

The Aliens' names are Arch, Battle, Breech and Budge!

So, a man named Trent finds himself in the present day US, he cannot remember who he is or what he's doing there. His left hand is a computer made of glass, but the three middle fingers are missing which limits the amount of knowledge the hand can supply. He does know that he is there from the future to save humanity from an alien invasion...

Trent's in a closed off high rise building where the aliens have a teleportation mirror they are using to come through to Earth with from the future. After going into a room, Trent finds a woman, Consuelo, who doesn't have a clue as to what's going on. One alien tries to capture Trent but is killed when our hero pulls the chained pendant off from around his neck! He then tells Consuelo everything he knows, according to his computer hand (that talks).

The computer tells Trent that in order to attain the first of the three fingers that the aliens have possession of, he needs to let them kill him!! Which he does.

The head alien attaches the first finger, and Trent is put in the room with Consuelo for the time being. But, the computer tells Consuelo how to bring Trent back to life.

Then, in the process of taking the second finger from an alien who has just come through the mirror, Trent is knocked out , so, Consuelo yanks the pendant off the alien and he goes poof before he can stomp Trent.

Trent has the second finger now, him and Consuelo listen to what the computer has to say. It says that the aliens are searching for a wire that has the lives of 70 billion Earthlings from the future on it, the aliens want to destroy the wire and take over Earth for themselves. Then Consuelo admits that she has fallen in love with him, he doesn't know what to make of it...

There's no way to logically speak with the aliens, to them, it's all out war! Boy, that reminds me of a political party here in the present! Anyway, Trent pulls the leader's chain off and that's the end of that brick head!

Trent goes searching for the teleporting mirror to destroy it. After hearing some strange mechanical noise, he locates the room housing the mirror. The alien with the third finger comes through and Trent then shoots the mirror, rendering it useless.

One alien grabs the finger, runs out the door and gets into an elevator car to escape from Trent. The episode was shot in the Bradbury Building in downtown LA.

Trent ends up with the third finger, but...

Another alien has found the room him and Consuelo are hiding in and he knocks our guy through a window where he tries to choke him out. Fortunately, Consuelo has been hiding out of sight outside the window and she pulls yet another chain from the neck of an alien, saving Trent again!

He gets her back inside where they listen to the final message about where the wire is. Well, it's inside Trent's body, because he's a robot, the reason he didn't die when the aliens shot him.

This thing's complicated - Not only did the human race put themselves on the wire, they also released a lethal dose of radiation with a half life of 200 years on Earth to kill every alien, then return 200 years later to restart life anew!!

But alas, Consuelo is devastated by the fact Trent's a robot. She quietly gets up, walks out the door and...

Disappears into the night. A sad ending for me...


Randall Landers said...

Did not realize Rex Holman was in this episode. He played Morgan Earp in Star Trek's "Spectre of the Gun," and J'onn in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Abraham Sofaer played the Thasian in Star Trek's "Charlie X" (lol, he was a HEAD in that one), and coincidentally the voice of the Melkotian HEAD in Star Trek's "Spectre of the Gun" as well.

This was a pretty unique episode. Rarely, imo, did they have unhappy endings, but this one is quite a standout, and Robert Culp apparently thought it was, rightly so, a wonderful script.

krd said...

This episode is without a doubt my favorite episode of THE OUTER LIMITS. Further, it's absolutely my favorite episode of television ever produced.

Harlan Ellison may have been a mouthy, angry man, but he was a brilliant writer. This, his STAR TREK episode City on the Edge of forever, and his HITCHCOCK HOUR, Memo from Purgatory, are all amazing presentations.

@Randall: Rex Holman was in an episode of LAND OF THE GIANTS, and Abraham Sofaer was in episodes of THE TIME TUNNEL and LOST IN SPACE as well! But it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I realized that Rex Holman gave the emotional performance as J'onn in ST: THE FINAL FRONTIER, a movie I actually enjoy a lot, especially for the funny and warm scenes of "the big three" together (Kirk, Spock, and McCoy). Not long ago, I found and downloaded (mp3 on Amazon) an album of folk songs by Rex Holman! Not exactly my thing, but very nicely done in any case.

Re: OUTER LIMITS endings, actually I think the show was very grim most of the time, especially in its first season of monsters of "boogeymen" as Harlan Ellison considered OL's first year. I tend to agree, that the first year was just awfully downcast, and I blame that on Joseph Stefano. I have more favorites in the second season, which is more sci-fi than the horrific overall tone of the first. (Though I do like the photography of the first year.)

krd said...

I meant to add that DEMON WITH A GLASS HAND is "bittersweet" like Harlan Ellison's necessarily sad ending of his STAR TREK episode.

Peteski said...

I don't remember this one - looks interesting. Robert Culp is never not great.

krd said...

Funny DEMON trivia: in an early script draft, Trent was called Mr. Fish. :O

Unknown said...

I have successfully duplicated the glass hand. Contact me for photos.

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