Nick of Time (The Twilight Zone)

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William Shatner: Don Carter
Patricia Breslin: Pat Carter
Guy Wilkerson: Counter Man
Stafford Repp: Mechanic
Walter Reed: Man

"Nick of Time" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.



When Don (William Shatner) and Pat Carter's automobile breaks down in Ridgeview, Ohio, they decide to have lunch at the Busy Bee Cafe. The booth they sit in has a fortune telling machine on the table. Don asks the "mystic seer" if he is going to get a promotion at work. The card says that it has been decided in his favor. When Don calls the office, he discovers that the mystic seer was right. Because of this initial success, Don asks the mystic seer even more questions.

Pat realizes that Don is taking the mystic seer too seriously, but Don keeps asking it questions. Because of the seer's answers, Don doesn't feel it is safe to leave the diner until after 3:00 p.m. Pat gets him to leave before then, but at 3:00 p.m. they are almost struck by a car while crossing the street. After they both calm down, Don leads Pat back to the cafe. However, another couple is sitting at their booth, so Don and Pat must wait at the front counter.

Pat wants proof that the mystic seer is legitimate, because she points out that it was Don who had brought up the time of 3:00 p.m. After reclaiming their booth, Don immediately asks the mystic seer more questions. One of the things he wants to know is whether their car will be fixed by the end of the day. The mystic seer says the car has been repaired, and a few moments later the mechanic arrives with that very news.

Pat is disgusted to see Don rely upon the mystic seer so heavily. The breaking point happens when Don asks the mystic seer where they're going to live in the future. Pat tries to break the spell the mystic seer has over Don by pointing out that he is letting the seer run his life. After a persuasive speech from Pat, Don realizes how foolishly he has been acting. He apologizes to Pat and then announces directly to the mystic seer that they're leaving to go do what they please.

Right after they leave, another couple with several pennies sits down at the booth and starts asking questions. Don and Pat did what this couple could not: choose their own path regardless of outcome. These two are apparently "stuck" in Ridgeview, all because the machine has not told them they can leave.


Richard Matheson writing in The Twilight Zone Magazine said that he wished that Pat Breslin, who played Pat Carter (the wife of Don Carter, Shatner's character in this episode) had been available to play Shatner's wife again for the 5th season episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet".

See also


  • Zicree, Marc Scott. The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition).
  • DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1593931360
  • Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0970331090

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