Today, May 1st, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1964 premiere of "The Encounter."
Neville Brand and George Takei star in this claustrophobic piece about a U.S. Marine veteran named Fenton, who invites his new gardener, Japanese-American Arthur Takamori, into his attic for an afternoon beer. As Fenton starts to drink, he starts to share disturbing memories of the war with Arthur, and shows him a Japanese samurai sword that bears the ominous legend "The Sword Will Avenge Me."
This episode of the Zone is soaked with controversy. In writing the suspenseful script, writer Martin M. Goldsmith made a critical error – he gave George Takei some dialogue where he discusses the fact that his father betrayed America by guiding planes to Pearl Harbor. In reality, no Japanese-Americans were disloyal during the war – in fact, a large number of able-bodied men joined the U.S. Army and fought gallantly in Europe with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, ironically the most decorated combat unit in the whole war.
In any case, once "The Encounter" was aired, it was pulled from further broadcasts because of that controversial dialogue passage and stayed out of the syndication package for years. Today, of course, it's part of all the DVD and Blu-ray sets.
Brand, a combat veteran himself, is terrific in his role, and newcomer Takei (destined for immortality soon as Sulu on the original Star Trek) matches him scene by scene.
So let's open a can of chilled Schlitz to this post-war tale of the macabre, brought to you by the show that, when called for, always delivers the proper chills at the proper dramatic temperature, The Twilight Zone.