A Saucer of Loneliness (The Twilight Zone)
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"A Saucer of Loneliness" is the second segment of the twenty-fifth episode, the first episode of the second season (1986–87) of the television series The Twilight Zone. It is based on the short story of the same name by Theodore Sturgeon.
|"A Saucer of Loneliness"|
|The Twilight Zone (1985 TV series) episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2|
|Directed by||John D. Hancock|
|Written by||David Gerrold |
|Original air date||September 27, 1986|
Margaret (Shelley Duvall) is a middle-aged woman who is a spinster, working as a waitress at a diner. She enjoys walking on the beach but is very lonely. When she returns home after work one night, her alcoholic mother cruelly criticizes her for being unmarried at her age. Margaret runs into her bedroom and cries herself to sleep. The next day on her way to work, Margaret joins a crowd on the beach which is staring at a flying saucer in the sky. As it descends from the atmosphere, it hovers around as if it were looking for someone and begins to follow Margaret. It communicates with her telepathically and she passes out. When she awakes, she insists that the spacecraft spoke to her, and she states that the saucer specifically wanted to give her a message. However, she doesn't reveal the message because it was a private conversation between her and the flying saucer. Government authorities capture and examine the saucer but find it empty, and they are unable to identify the composition of its hull.
Soon, Margaret's mother throws her out of the house so she goes to stay at a hotel and, later, when Margaret takes a stroll on the crowded boardwalk, she is approached by a woman who thinks that Jesus spoke to her through the saucer. She believes that Margaret has the power to heal but Margaret flees in tears. At her hotel room, she writes a few notes and bottles them to throw in the ocean. The next day, a handsome patron at the restaurant asks her out on a date. Excited, Margaret buys a new outfit for the evening and the date is initially enjoyable for her until he questions her about the saucer's message. Margaret realizes that her date is not interested in her as a person, but only wants to know about the saucer. She immediately ends the date and goes home to cry herself to sleep.
Desperate and without hope, Margaret walks along the beach late at night and decides to commit suicide. She walks into the ocean but a man comes from behind and pulls her out. He explains that he found one of her bottles and was touched by the message. She tells him that it was the only thing she could call her own and the only thing she could do for another like herself. The man says that when he read it, he knew it was connected to the saucer and the words were like a song. Margaret explains that the saucer was just an interstellar message in a bottle—just like the bottles she threw into the ocean. Her messages were her own words—an imperfect translation of the saucer's message. She shows the man the actual message which takes the form of a glowing orb in the palm of her hand. They caress the orb together and then it slowly disappears. Margaret and the man walk away together with his arm around her.
The episode differs from the short story it was adapted from due to requirements for storytelling on television. For instance, the loneliness of the woman is obvious from the beginning of the episode, as opposed to the gradual reveal in the short story. The time frame is shorter, too, and the episode adds a resolution with the orb which was not present in the original story.