The Road Less Traveled (The Twilight Zone)
"The Road Less Traveled" is the thirty-first episode and the twelfth episode of the second season (1986–87) of the television series The Twilight Zone.
|"The Road Less Traveled"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2|
|Directed by||Wes Craven|
|Written by||George R.R. Martin|
|Production code||Produced for 1 hour then cut to half-hour|
|Original air date||December 18, 1986|
A young girl named Megan bursts out of her bedroom and runs downstairs to her parents who are watching television. She claims there is a man in her room so her father Jeff playfully carries her back upstairs. They enter her room and it is revealed that "the man" is merely a pile of clothes in a chair. Jeff tucks her back into bed and he comforts her by telling her a story his dad told him about keeping away monsters. When he gets her back to sleep he turns off the light and the room changes to a jungle setting. Helicopters blaze overhead and there is gunfire in the distance. Jeff stands in shock but quickly turns on the light, watching as the jungle disappears. Megan remains sleeping and after he turns the light off again it doesn't return. Later on, Megan tries the secret from keeping away monsters but a man's hand reaches out and pulls the cover off scaring her.
Jeff comes home the next day with feelings of guilt about not going to Vietnam as someone at work questioned him about what he did during the war. When asked what university Jeff graduated from he sheepishly admitted it was in Canada. Meanwhile, Megan goes upstairs and returns later with filthy hands. Denise goes upstairs with her and Megan claims that the man in the wheelchair was up there and talked to her. Denise cleans Megan and then sees the man Megan spoke about. She screams for Jeff and the man disappears, but Megan comments that he was nice. Jeff goes upstairs to investigate, walks into the bathroom and turns off the faucet but then finds himself in a swamp dressed in army fatigues carrying a rifle. He looks around and sees two other soldiers. One of them asks what's wrong and Jeff freaks out and falls into the water. Before he realizes what has happened Jeff is back in the bathroom with his wife.
Jeff admits he was drafted but he went to Canada instead of going to Vietnam and now maybe things are catching up with him; perhaps the man is someone who died because Jeff should've been there. His wife assures him that whatever it is they will face it together. He turns around to find himself in a jungle building with a Vietnamese girl clinging to him. Back in reality Jeff is scared, runs outside the house, gets into his car and drives away. Later, Denise gets a call from Jeff who sounds odd and begs her to come home. Jeff arrives at Denise's workplace asking for her, discovering that someone sounding like him called and asked her to come home. Jeff goes after her and discovers Denise with the man in the wheelchair and realizes the man in the wheelchair is in fact himself, but from a different reality where he honored his draft and went to Vietnam. The "Vietnam Jeff" explains that he wanted to get a chance to see what his life would've been like if he hadn't enlisted. Both of them touch to experience each other's memories so that "Vietnam Jeff" can experience the good life while "Normal Jeff" can experience the Vietnam war. "Vietnam Jeff" regains the use of his legs and then disappears, leaving the other Jeff with Denise and Megan.
- Originaly produced at 45 minutes for inclusion in a one hour show, it had to be cut down to 24 minutes when CBS decided to cut the broadcast time to a half-hour. The DVD releases include the excised footage.**
We make our choices and, afterwards, wonder what the other road was like. Jeff McDowell found out and paid the toll. A lesson in courage and cartography from the mapmakers...of the Twilight Zone.