The Twilight Zone season 1 episode 6 recap: Six Degrees of Freedom

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“Six Degrees of Freedom” — Pictured: Jessica Williams as Rei Tanaka of the CBS All Access series THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Photo Cr: Robert Falconer/CBS © 2019 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.

There are little moments throughout where the stress of the mission gets to every member of the crew. Donlin flies into a rage when their ship happens to pick up a radio signal that, in reality, was just an old broadcast signal from a 1970s television show—a small bit of hope immediately snatched away from him.

There’s also Langford who eventually breaks down under the burden of having to be the responsible adult of the crew. Brandt at one point calls her the crews mother. She’s always the one who is emotionally there for people when they need a shoulder to cry on.

(As a side note, there’s the very blatant Easter Egg in this episode of Langford holding a toy plane with “Northern Goldstar Airline” on the side. Another indication that maybe all of these stories exist in the same universe. Or the implication that The Twilight Zone is its own special universe.)

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After Langford breaks down (which happens at Brandt’s birthday party), things take a weird turn with Pierson.

Pierson explains that there’s no reason to be upset because everything about their mission isn’t real.

It’s an idea that had popped into my head multiple times because of old episodes of The Twilight Zone like “I Shot an Arrow into the Air,” where a crew on a space mission thought they had landed on another planet, but it was just the middle of a desert on Earth. It’s great look at what happens when people think their situation is dire.

(If we really want to get into it, most of the characters from this episode are named after characters from that classic The Twilight Zone episode. Colonel Donlin, Pierson, Langford and Brandt were four of the characters featured in “I Shot an Arrow.”)

Anyway, back to the story. Pierson has a notebook full of notes he’s been taking since the day they left (they’re almost at Mars by this point, hundreds of days later). He believes he’s gathered enough data to prove that they never left Earth and this is all some elaborate test.

As he’s explaining his position, alarms start to go off. There’s a solar flare that threatens to take out the ship’s computer systems and power. Everyone springs into action to get the ship positioned so the heat shield is facing the flare to protect them.

Well, everyone except Pierson, who is still going on about his realization. Part of his proof includes the fact that he stuck his hand in the toilet, where there should be crystalized buildup due to space being cold, but he never found any. He is so convinced that, when Brandt is screaming for everyone to strap themselves into their seats, Pierson makes his way to the air lock.

Langford tries to convince Pierson to sit, but to no avail. The other four strap themselves in and Brandt is forced to close the door behind them to keep them safe from the solar flare.

Meanwhile, Pierson, convinced that once he opens this door, he’ll find himself at some underground secret facility where the test is being held, opens the door. We see a bright life and what looks like a solar flare. Pierson, it seems, was wrong.

Later, the crew deals with the loss of Pierson. Langford, curious about Pierson’s assertions, checks the toilet. She finds crystals and concludes that Pierson must have been wrong. Even so, the crew still has doubts. Or, perhaps more accurately, they have hope that it’ll turn out that Pierson was right and this was some elaborate “War of the Worlds” type of drama played out to test them.

The Twilight Zone moves on to finally arriving on Mars.

The crew successfully lands on the surface and becomes the first group of people on Mars. Even after they touched down, they still wondered if it was possible that, when they opened their radiation shield, they’d see Earth or some testing facility.

As the crew embraces Mars, the episode pulls back into a dark room with footage being shown of the crew on Mars. Pierson is lying on the ground, passed out.

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As Pierson wakes up, we hear someone (aliens or at least a vastly superiors form of intelligent life) talking. We’ve been watching, as have they, the humans on their mission, as if someone was at work giving a “should we save humans” presentation. The aliens commend the humans for pushing through the Great Filter. Their acheivement, the aliens say, has proven that the humans are worthy of “salvation.” The aliens prepare to make contact.

This episode of The Twilight Zone ends with Pierson realizing that he was actually right.

What did you think of the twist in this week’s episode? Let us know your thoughts on The Twilight Zone in the comments.