14 March 2011

A fantasy episode for The Outer Limits

Trust me, I'll get around to explaining the title of this post.

The latest I'm hearing from Fukushima, via MSNBC, is the following:
  1. Reactor 2 has suffered an explosion, that's reported to be worse than the ones that preceded it.
  2. Prime Minister Naoto Kan has widened the exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi complex from 20 to 30 kilometers.
  3. Now a fourth reactor at the complex is on fire.
Even if the situation doesn't get any worse and there's no major meltdown, it's already a crippling blow to Japan.  The outlook for the rest of the world just got an order of magnitude worse, as nations start abandoning nuclear energy altogether.  Without a serious nuclear-power capability to tide us over, I'm beginning to worry that our civilization no longer has enough time to develop alternative sources of energy.

Not that some Dominionists aren't celebrating.  They look at disasters like Fukushima Daiichi and Deepwater Horizon and see a sign that they'll be magically whisked into heaven, while the rest of us endure one catastrophe after another.  [To paraphrase Barack Obama, they worship a truly awesome douchebag of a God.]

Discussion of the legendary End Times invariably reminds me of the later version of The Outer Limits, which ran from 1995 to 2002.  Its predecessor from the 1960s was a serviceable science-fiction anthology, which did well with a special-effects budget not much bigger than the original Twilight Zone had.  The 1990s series had better special effects, but it took Zone's penchant for climactic twists to an awful extreme.  Occasionally, as in "The Deprogrammers," the twist truly worked.  Unfortunately, for most episodes, I spent less energy actually watching than calculating the nature of the twist.  [Even worse, I was usually right.] It wasn't too difficult, then, to write a framework for my fantasy episode for The Outer Limits.

The teaser describes a major environmental disaster that's irreparably polluted a large portion of the Earth.  We see people in mourning all over the world... except in Uplift, a medium-sized American suburb populated whose main factions are the followers of two Dominionist mega-churches.  There, an angelic figure descends from the sky, sending the residents into an ecstatic frenzy.  Surely, this is the angel who will take them to Heaven, safe from the Tribulation that is to follow.

Cue the intro:  "Do not adjust your television set... ."

As even more catastrophes unfold elsewhere, the Dominionist factions of Uplift fight each other for the favor of this "angel" (and a trip to Heaven).  Both sides spend most of the episode wondering what the rest of the world will think when Uplift suddenly becomes empty of people.  They're too delirious to notice that the "angel" is actually talking to only one resident, a surly Teenager who's ready to leave Uplift at the first opportunity.  Of course, this lone dissident tries to warn his/her fellow townsfolk about the plans the "angel" truly has -- and, of course, (s)he's almost stoned for the trouble.

Only at the end, when the Rapture actually take place, does either faction realize that the Teenager they both hate was right.  The "angel" even announces it to the holier-than-thou people of Uplift.  The Rapture has come, all right -- and, except for the Teenager, they're not to be saved.  They get only enough time to mourn their fate for the voice-over announcer to start pontificating on the Human Frailty of the Week.  [It wouldn't episode of The Outer Limits without such a pronouncement!]  After that, a tornado starts ripping Uplift to shreds.

In the very last shot, it turns out that every man, woman, child and pet companion animal has suddenly disappeared from San Francisco, California.

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