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Saturday, January 07, 2006

1.28 --- Her Pilgrim Soul

Directed by : Wes Craven
Written by : Alan Brennert
Starring : Kristoffer Tabori, Anne Twomey, Gary Cole
First aired : 13th of December, 1985.

Kevin (Kristoffer Tabori) and Dan (Gary Cole, Office Space, Dodgeball) are a pair of scientists who have just freshly finished their latest and greatest work : a hologram projector. However, both are equally amazed to see that the projector all of a sudden shows a human foetus, something which was not pre-programmed in any capacity. Thinking it's just a glitch, they reset the system and after reinitiation all seems alright, until next morning Kevin returns and finds a little girl sitting alone inside.

Intrigued, Kevin starts talking to her, and finds out her name is Nola (portrayed as an adult by stage actress Anne Twomey). Dan calculates that Nola is aging at approximately ten years a day, and it is soon apparent that she remembers things as the years (or, better said, hours) pass by. Dan manages to uncover some information on Nola, discovering she was a real person at the beginning of the 20th century, and that she was a sort of a black sheep in her family. She got married to a Jewish fellow named Robert, which caused the ire of her father who disinherited her.

Back at the lab, Kevin can't quite get his thoughts off Nola, in turn moving away from his own house and growing apart from his wife, who wants him to devote more time to her in order to have a baby. At her age of thirty-something, Nola reenacts her pregnancy and misscariage, an event which leaves a mark on both her and Kevin. She disappears, but reappears again, and two keep on socializing, playing chess and such. Meanwhile, Dan is still busy with the background checks on "real" Nola. He finally tracks down an elderly man who knew them both, and is shocked to hear that Nola died during her miscarriage.

*** Reviewer's note *** : the next paragraph is my interpretation of the events. It might not exactly be that way as described for you, but after some serious head-scratching, I came to this particular conclusion. Carry on.

While Kevin is asleep at the lab, Nola, now well aged, uses the voice decoder to mask herself as him, calls his wife and asks her to come pick him up, saying his work at the lab is done. Then, she wakes Kevin up and reveals him the truth - he is, in fact, a reincarnation of Robert, and she came to visit him to relieve him of anguish and grief he seems to have carried over from his past life. She leaves him, and moments after Kevin's wife is at the door - the two have a loving reunion, and things finally come back to their place, both for Kevin...and for Nola.


I don't recall what was the last time I had this variety of feelings while watching the Twilight Zone. When it started, I felt the set-up was rushed, that we would learn more of Kevin and Dan before Nola appears. Then, as it started settling down, it got better, and better, and better...and then Nola and Kevin share an introspective moment, and I'm lost again. Finally, she addresses him as "Robert" while disappearing, and it all comes together. My final verdict is : this is a special episode, one worth not only watching, but also thinking about it. Writer Alan Brennert pitches us some very complex concepts and ideas - the existance of human soul, reincarnation, past and present lives and how they connect, and works them slowly on the audience, culminating in a rousing success at the end. Hats off to him.

Wes Craven returns for his sixth feature, delivering a credible job behind the camera - I especially liked the neat trick of incorporating the opening credits into the episode. Anne Twomey is delightful as four different incarnations of Nola, and special effects, along with the make-up job, are above average. I could have done with some more screen time for Gary Cole, who I fondly remember from another "night programme" (see my intro post) show, Midnight Caller, but this is just a minor gripe. Oh, and yes, that IS Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years playing a ten-year old Nola (Danica McKellar)

TZ Trivia : nine years after starring in Her Pilgrim Soul, Gary Cole would appear in another TZ offshoot - this time, the "Rod Serling's Lost Classics" TV-movie, playing James in the first segment ("The Theater"). He also appeared in one Outer Limits episode, the '90s reincarnation of it that is.

Odd trivia : it's somewhat amazing to find out that the 80s TZ proved itself as a fertile ground for future voice actors. Kris Tabori joins the list, contributing his vocal chords to Star Wars : Knights of the Old Republic amongst others things, breathing life into the memorably grumpy battle droid HK-47.

Comments on "1.28 --- Her Pilgrim Soul"


Anonymous Dave said ... (7:24 PM) : 

I don't know what won the Hugo for filmed presentation the year this episode aired, but it should have gone to Alan Brennert and "Her Pilgrim Soul." I had the joy of watching this episode last night for the first time since it aired. It was doubly special as it was the first time my wife had seen it.

Simply put, folks, "The Twilight Zone" does not get any better than this!



Blogger Brian said ... (9:19 AM) : 

Brennert wrote the book for a musical adaptation of this episode, which formed the second act of a show called WEIRD ROMANCE with music by Alan Menken (of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS and THE LITTLE MERMAID fame). It's got some really fantastic, hearbreaking songs.


Blogger Diva said ... (8:12 AM) : 

This comment has been removed by the author.


Blogger Diva said ... (8:14 AM) : 

What does Kevin's wife say right before he says "I don't know! I don't know anymore!!!" I rewound it over and over again and still couldn't understand what she said.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:29 AM) : 

I cried my eyes out on this episode
the original twilight zones were entertaining at best. the 1980s were cheezy. this episode just blew me away. i was like where did it come from? this isnt twilightzone style with deep poetry, romance and saddening yet happy ending storyline.
great acting as well. this should have been a blockbuster classic movie.


Blogger SHM said ... (2:24 PM) : 

This is one of my all time favorite episodes. I'd dare say it is at the very top of my list for any TV program.

It was very touching and so well done.


Anonymous Howard said ... (2:22 PM) : 


"Kevin, are you leaving me?" or something close to that.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:56 PM) : 

If you're a guy with a girlfriend who is not into Science Fiction, show her this episode, she will love it. Don't bother watching it yourself, as it's a total Chick Flick and you'll hate it, it's a lot of soggy garbage.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:17 PM) : 

This is the best episode of the Twilight Zone because like a previous reviewer stated it's not really anything like a twilight Zone episode. I found a lot of the episodes entertaining and even though provoking but this is on another level altogether. Life changing and extraordinary.


Anonymous Adrock said ... (10:13 PM) : 

One of those episodes that soared way over my head at age 12, the age I was when this first aired. I appreciate it much more now, at age 43.

A couple of interesting things; Kris Tabori, playing the lead role, is the biological son of Don Siegel, who directed the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" -- the kind of allegorical sci-fi movie that made TZ's existence possible in the first place.

And, he's playing a small part early in his career, but Gary Cole affects a very New York accent for his part, to justify the fact that his character is required to have some very obscure and highly detailed knowledge of the geography of Westchester County in New York State (the upper NYC suburbs). That's a very smart actor's choice from a guy in his late 20s, who's now gone on to such bigger and better things.


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