The Purple Testament

related topics
{war, force, army}
{film, series, show}
{god, call, give}
{son, year, death}
{math, energy, light}
{theory, work, human}
{service, military, aircraft}

William Reynolds: Lt. Fitzgerald
Dick York: Captain Riker
Barney Phillips: Captain Gunther
Warren Oates: Jeep Driver
Paul Mazursky: Orderly
Ron Masak: Harmonica Man
William Phipps: Sergeant
S. John Launer: Colonel
Marc Cavell: Freeman

"The Purple Testament" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It's "the story of a man who can forecast death."[1]



William Fitzgerald, a lieutenant serving in World War II, suddenly gains the mysterious ability to discover who is about to die via a strange flash of light across the person's face. After correctly predicting several deaths, he tells his friend Captain Riker what he is able to see, but the Captain does not know whether to believe him or not. Riker consults with a doctor, Captain Gunther, who thinks it may be fatigue and suggests that the lieutenant should take a leave of rest. Fitzgerald goes to a hospital to see one of his men, Smitty, who is supposed to pull through. But he sees the strange light across the soldier's face and knows his fate.

Later, his prediction has come true, and he makes a scene in the hospital in front of Captain Gunther. Back at their tent, Fitz reveals to Riker he has seen the light on his face. Though he tells Fitz to forget it and get ready for battle, the Captain sets out some of his personal possessions — a few photographs and his wedding ring — before he goes into combat. In the camp, the men argue about the rumors of the lieutenant's predictions, but Riker tells all the soldiers there that there are no "mind readers" in the camp. Fitz, seeing the men's faces and realizing he could cause mutiny, agrees with the captain.

In the ensuing battle, all return except for Riker, who is killed by a sniper. Captain Gunther brings news to Fitzgerald that he is being sent back to division headquarters for some much needed rest, but as the lieutenant gathers his gear, he sees the light flash across his own face in a mirror. A jeep driver comes to pick Fitzgerald up for the ride to HQ, but the lieutenant seems distant, as if resigned to fate.

The Sergeant sends the two off, telling the driver to be careful as they go; they have not completely checked the area for land mines on the road ahead. As the soldiers are gathered around the camp at dusk, the sound of an explosion is heard in the distance.

Production notes

Dean Stockwell was originally cast in the lead role, but was unable to appear. He would later star in the similarly themed episode "A Quality of Mercy".

The concept of seeing a light on the face of those who are about to die was readdressed in "Into the Light", an episode of the 2002 revival series.

This is one of several episodes from Season One with its opening title sequence plastered over with the opening for Season Two. This was done during the Summer of 1961 as to help the season one shows fit in with the new look the show had taken during the following season.

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