Judgment Night

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{film, series, show}
{ship, engine, design}
{war, force, army}
{law, state, case}
{theory, work, human}
{food, make, wine}
{service, military, aircraft}
{line, north, south}

Nehemiah Persoff: Carl Lanser
Ben Wright: Captain Wilbur
Patrick Macnee: First Officer
James Franciscus: Lt. Mueller
Hugh Sanders: Potter
Leslie Bradley: Major Devereaux
Deirdre Owens: Miss Stanley
Kendrick Huxham: Bartender
Barry Bernard: Engineer
Richard Peel: 1st Steward
Donald Journeaux: 2nd Steward

"Judgment Night" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.



A somewhat nervous passenger by the name of Carl Lanser appears aboard a British ship in 1942. As the story opens, it becomes clear that Lanser has no idea of how he got aboard or who he really is. He is standing on deck as a man is calling him for dinner. He enters the cabin and joins the crew and passengers. Hearing the captain comment on German U-boats, Lanser seems annoyed and explains to him in great detail how one would not be aware of its presence. They ask Lanser what his profession is and how long he has been in England. Lanser explains that he has not been there long and was born in Frankfurt, Germany. Lanser then appears confused, explains that he is ill and goes to his cabin.

While still on deck, he speaks to a female crew member but grows increasingly stressed and rants about doom waiting for them. He explains that he knows who he is but cannot seem to grasp the specifics. The captain then asks to see Lanser again. After speaking to him, he is suspicious because Lanser claims he was born in Germany but cannot provide details of his life and does not have his passport on hand to verify his identity. The captain sends a steward to Lanser's cabin and, while unpacking Lanser's possessions, he finds the cap of a German naval officer. While inspecting it in private, Lanser discovers the cap bears his own name on the inside. Lanser leaves and goes to the ship bar.

Lanser is becoming increasingly panicked through listening to fellow passengers discuss various topics related to the War, he has been experiencing a sense of déjà vu, and it is becoming seemingly obvious that he is, unbeknownst to the others, a German submarine officer. Lanser is now certain that the ship will be attacked. The engines halt at 12:05 and despite the crew's reassurances Lanser panics, believing they will be killed at 1:15. Unsuccessfully trying to convince the crew that they will soon be under attack, Lanser must suffer the agony of watching the passengers be killed. At precisely the hour that Lanser predicts, the freighter is sunk by a German U-boat commanded by a Captain Lieutenant Lanser.

Later, Lanser is in his cabin on the U-boat, recording that night's kill. When his second-in-command asks Lanser if they might be judged according to the way they attacked the defenseless ship, Lanser replies only that the British will surely judge them. The first mate questions Lanser on whether God might also be judging them, condemning them to relive the final moments of the doomed ship. With this thought left open for debate, we learn that the First Mate's fears are realized: The attacking U-Boat and crew are condemned to sink the freighter over and over, with Lanser being an unwitting passenger among those killed without mercy on the ghost ship. The episode thus recounts Carl Lanser's private hell. Sure enough, Lanser reappears on the deck of the ship – and the nightmare begins again...

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