Episode #14… The Hitch-Hiker (Season 1, episode 16) on Netflix!
The Hitch-Hiker is a little dated and the twist is very common these days. That’s why I put this one lower on the list. Not because it isn’t good, but time has weakened it’s effect.
The Hitch-Hiker was actually an old radio play that had been performed live numerous times. In the radio play, the victim is male and is performed by one of the greatest ever, Orson Welles. Rod Serling took this play, written by Lucille Fletcher, and adapted it into a Twilight Zone episode. Rod Serling was very limited on what he could show on screen. The reason his twists and stories are so good is because of the limitations CBS put on him. So he had to get inventive with this one.
Well, one of the ingenious things Rod Serling did was make the character a woman. He obviously felt this would make the audience more on edge seeing a woman being followed by this strange figure rather than a man. She is less in control and a lot more vulnerable. Serling would do a lot of these little tweaks to make up for the lack of violence he wanted the audience to see. In those times, television was a lot more in control of what the artists were allowed to show. You would think this would hurt the show, but I truly believe it made it better. It forced Rod Serling to use inventive ways to get his point across and supplement any violent scenes he wanted to show.
The description- A young woman named Nan Adams is on the side of the road with a mechanic who is changing her tire. You find out that she had a blow out going 60 mph. The mechanic mentions that she is very lucky to be alive. Well, as she drives away to go to the mechanic’s gas station to get more needed repairs, she sees a strange man hitch-hiking. She doesn’t think much of it and drives off.
Well later, at the gas station, she is about to continue her trip to Los Angeles when she sees the same hitch-hiker again. She mentions it to the mechanic and he says “What hitch-hiker?” She looks and he is gone. She shrugs this off thinking that he got picked up. (I think you know where this is going…)
Nan continues her trip in her car and the Hitch-Hiker appears again. Realizing this is way too coincidental, she begins to get nervous and scared. As the episode continues she keeps seeing this man more and more until we come to the climax and of course the twist.
Now, I’m going to warn you here, if you haven’t figured out the twist already, you will probably before this episode finishes. It’s not because the episode is poorly written or executed, but because this twist has been recycled so many times over the years. Also, the skeptic could tear this episode apart and point out many loop holes. That is another reason why this episode is so low on my list.
But let me tell you, this is a great episode. It is really creepy and keeps you wondering what is going to happen next. So, even if you figure out the twist, you will be wondering how it will be revealed and how it is possible at all. Honestly, If I had the chance, I would remake this episode. It is such a cool concept and I see the faults that make it not so scary today. I would make it a lot more dark, more mysterious and make the Hitch-Hiker silent and barely visible throughout the whole episode.
Just remember when you start to get skeptical and start criticizing this episode, The Hitch-Hiker was the first of its kind on television. This episode is the blueprint to a story that would be and still will be recycled throughout time. This episode may not dazzle you, but I guarantee you will be thinking about it long after it ends. It just has that affect on everyone who sees it.
Don’t forget to check out my Twilight Zone inspired television show called “A Seat on a Train” at http://www.aseatonatrain.com. Help me continue Rod Serling’s classic style of story telling by showing your support and watching my first episode called “Out of Place.” If you like a lesson in the form of a twist, this one has a doozy!