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Wolf 359 (The Outer Limits)

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Episode no.  Season 2 Episode 8
Cinematography by  Kenneth Peach
Original air date  1964-11-07
Directed by  Laslo Benedek
Production code  38
Written by  Seeleg Lester (teleplay & story) Richard Landau (story)

"Wolf 359" is an episode of the original The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on 7 November 1964, during the second season. The title is derived from a star of the same name located relatively near Earth.

Contents

Introduction

The speedy evolution of an alien culture is observed through a professor's telescope. However, the experience soon goes out of control when a malevolent lifeform evolves at the planet's surface and threatens the scientific team.

Opening narration

Outward stretches the quest for truth. Stars without end. Timeless infinities. A billion, billion galaxies. Man's imagination reaches out and out, while betimes the farthest reaches of knowledge are found in the smallest places...

Plot

Working on behalf of corporate interests, scientist Jonathan Meridith has created a miniature version of a remote planet (in the titular Wolf 359 system) in his laboratory. Due to the miniaturization, this artificial world knows an accelerated development, thus allowing Meredith to study its evolution through an electronic microscope, and observing the birth of archaic lifeforms at its surface. However, soon, a mysterious lifeform evolves along with the developing experiment, being apparently aware of the scientist's presence outside of the microcosm, and even acting aggressively towards him at some point. Manifesting by night in the absence of light, the creature takes a physical shape into the laboratory itself, destroying all life inside it, including plants, a colony of ants and a couple of guinea pigs. Becoming aware of the situation, Meridith weighs the value of his experiment versus the possible dangers, and resorts to firing his lab assistant and sending his wife back home, in order to keep them away from harm. Pursuing his studies, the scientist soon discovers the creature inhabiting the planet seems to be a manifestation of the planet itself, similar to its collective mind, and bent on destruction. As the evolution of the miniature world progresses, Meredith observes a reproduction of the darkest moments of Earth's history at its surface (including the development of nuclear weapons). Lowering his guard one night, the scientist is suddenly attacked by the creature; he is however saved by his wife, who returned from home at the same moment, and who breaks the miniature planet's containment cell, causing its atmosphere to escape, and subsequently causing the creature to be destroyed along with the planet. In the epilogue, Meredith can be seen recording his final report on Wolf 359, telling that the experiment is over and the planet destroyed, yet also mentioning that the experience could be a success in the future, if only one could find a better planet.

Closing narration

There is a theory that Earth and sun and galaxy and all the known universes are only a dust mote on some policeman's uniform in some gigantic super-world. Couldn't we be under some super-microscope, right now?

Cast

  • Patrick O'Neal – as Jonathan Meridith
  • Sara Shane – as Ethel Meridith
  • Peter Haskell – as Peter Jellicoe
  • Ben Wright – as Philip Exeter Dundee
  • Dabney Coleman – as James Custer
  • Trivia

  • This episode is erroneously listed on one DVD case ("The Outer Limits Volume Three The Original Series Disc 1 Episodes 33-40") in "The Outer Limits The Complete Original Series Volumes 1-3". The episode is actually only on Disc 2 included in the case for "The Outer Limits Volume Three The Original Series Discs 2-3 Episodes 39-49". The same is true for the previous episode, "The Invisible Enemy".
  • The star is also the location of the battle of Wolf 359 in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • References

    Wolf 359 (The Outer Limits) Wikipedia


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