★★★★1/2 May 1, 1964 Season 5 Episode 30
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This episode is a serious and powerful episode. Taro (George Takei) lives with the guilt and dishonor that his father brought on the family by turning traitor during World War II, even while employed as a shipbuilder in Hawaii. Fenton (Neville Brand) endures the repressed guilt of having murdered a Japanese soldier after the man had already surrendered.
At first, the two are cordial but you can feel the tension build as the episode proceeds. It deals with themes of guilt and atonement. The dialog sounds authentic and dramatic. George Takei who plays Arthur Takamori would later go on to star in Star Trek. Both actors are superb in this story.
IMDB Trivia: This episode sparked some intense controversy for CBS after it was first aired in 1964. Due to strong critical blow-back for it’s ostensible racist overtones and revisionist history, CBS pulled this episode out of syndication and it was not rebroadcast again on any network in the U.S. until 2016; although it did air in other countries and was also not removed from streaming services or home video/DVD sets. The Encounter triggered audience and reviewer criticism of the episode as antithetical to the series’ normally positive treatment of otherwise sensitive social, religious, and racial subject matter.
During the dialogue, the Pearl Harbor attack was extensively discussed. Six years later, Neville Brand would have a small role in the epic Pearl Harbor film Tora! Tora! Tora!
This episode was finally rerun in the United States, on the Syfy channel, during a complete Twilight Zone marathon on January 3rd, 2016.
This show was written by Rod Serling and Martin Goldsmith
Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
Two men alone in an attic, a young Japanese-American and a seasoned veteran of yesterday’s war. It’s twenty odd years since Pearl Harbor, but two ancient opponents are moving into position for a battle in an attic crammed with skeletons, souvenirs, mementos, old uniforms, and rusted medals. Ghosts from the dim reaches of the past, that will lead us into the Twilight Zone.
A man, Fenton, is cleaning out his attic when a Japanese gardener, Arthur Takamori, stops by asking if he would like his grass cut. Fenton invites him up for a beer but, having served in the Pacific during World War II, isn’t quite sure what to make of his visitor. He has his prejudices but wavers as Arthur says he was born in the USA and is no different than any other American. As they discuss their pasts, it’s revealed that both men have lied and are haunted by what happened to them
Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
Two men in an attic, locked in mortal embrace. Their common bond, and their common enemy: guilt. A disease all too prevalent amongst men both in and out of The Twilight Zone.
Rod Serling … Host / Narrator – Himself
Neville Brand … Fenton
George Takei … Arthur Takamori/Taro