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The Twilight Zone S03 E15 A Quality of Mercy


The Twilight Zone is an American television anthology series created by Rod Serling. It is a series of unrelated stories containing drama, psychological thriller, fantasy, science fiction, suspense, and/or horror, often concluding with a macabre or unexpected twist. A popular and critical success, it introduced many Americans to common science fiction and fantasy tropes.

"A Quality of Mercy" is episode 80 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone, which originally aired on December 29, 1961. The title is taken from a notable speech in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, quoted in Serling's closing narration at the end of the episode.

Opening narration

It's August, 1945, the last grimy pages of a dirty, torn book of war. The place is the Philippine Islands. The men are what's left of a platoon of American Infantry, whose dulled and tired eyes set deep in dulled and tired faces can now look toward a miracle, that moment when the nightmare appears to be coming to an end. But they've got one more battle to fight, and in a moment we'll observe that battle. August, 1945, Philippine Islands. But in reality, it's high noon in the Twilight Zone.


On August 6, 1945, Second Lieutenant Katell has just arrived at the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II, and he orders his war-weary soldiers to make a desperate attack on a group of sick and wounded Japanese soldiers holed up in a cave. Seasoned veteran Sergeant Causarano tries to talk him out of it as he knows that the men have had enough of war and that attacking the cave would be pointless, only wasting lives on both sides. Intent on proving himself and earning his rank, Katell refuses to listen and stands firm on his orders. He berates the platoon for their lack of enthusiasm and the men reluctantly prepare for the assault.

Katell then accidentally drops his binoculars. When he goes to retrieve them, he finds himself in Corregidor fighting in the Imperial Japanese Army as a Japanese man named Lt. Yamuri. The year is now 1942, and he is ordered to attack a group of sick and wounded American soldiers who are holed up in a cave. Having found a new perspective, he tries in vain to dissuade the captain from the attack, arguing that the Americans inside the cave pose no threat and can be bypassed.

The Japanese captain bluntly refuses to listen, suspecting that the young man is either sick with jungle fever or has lost his nerve to fight. He tells Yamuri to straighten up or stay with the wounded, but Yamuri does not back down. The captain then relieves him of command and moves the company forward to begin the attack anyway, coldly disinterested in anything but destroying the other side.

Leonard Nimoy as Hansen

Katell then finds himself back in 1945 as an American soldier. His radioman relays that the atomic bomb has been dropped. They have been ordered not to attack the cave, but instead to fall back and wait to see how Japan responds. Causarano sardonically assures him "Well, I wouldn't fret. There'll be other caves, and other wars, other human beings you can knock off." As the platoon withdraws, Katell says to himself "I hope not. God help us, I hope not."

Closing narration

'The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.' Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, but applicable to any moment in time, to any group of soldiery, to any nation on the face of the Earth—or, as in this case, to the Twilight Zone.

The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I

The quality of mercy is not strained;

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

'T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown:

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

But mercy is above this sceptred sway;

It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,

It is an attribute to God himself;

And earthly power doth then show likest God's

When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,

Though justice be thy plea, consider this,

That, in the course of justice, none of us

Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;

And that same prayer doth teach us all to render

The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much

To mitigate the justice of thy plea;

Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice

Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.

Posted by George Freund on May 29, 2023 at 8:52 PM 26 Views