Quarantine (The Twilight Zone)

"Quarantine" is the second segment of the seventeenth episode from the first season (1985–86) of the television series The Twilight Zone.

The Twilight Zone (1985 series) episode
Quarantine TZ.jpg
Scene from Quarantine
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 17b
Directed byMartha Coolidge
Written byAlan Brennert
Production code49
Original air dateFebruary 7, 1986
Guest appearance(s)

Scott Wilson: Matthew Forman
Tess Harper: Sarah
Larry Riley: Joshua
D.W. Brown: John
Jeanne Mori: Irene

Episode chronology
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"Welcome to Winfield"
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List of The Twilight Zone (1985 TV series) episodes


Matthew awakens from a long sleep. His caretaker Sarah confirms he was put in cryogenic sleep in June 2023. Then she reveals he was asleep for more than 300 years... this is the year 2347. Sarah brings Matthew outside to see a small farm town, and he is confused as to why he was not brought to a city. She claims there are no more cities, freeways, or factories.

Sarah takes him into what she calls the surgery area. Surgery is performed without need of anesthetic or instruments. She and two others use psychic abilities to take out the cause of the incurable disease that required him to be put into the cryogenic sleep. Matthew is overwhelmed after he sees the villagers can reach into his body and pull out the cancerous tissue painlessly.

Although they are no longer technologically advanced, humans made progress in 300 years. In their world, technology is replaced by advances in human awareness and spiritual growth, the organic replaces the mechanical, and they live in balance and harmony with all life on the planet in what Sarah refers to as a "biological gestalt."

Matthew learns more about the agrarian post-apocalyptic community in which Sarah lives. Every need in this society is met through genetic engineering, psionics, or super-science in harmony with nature. However, Matthew wonders their reasons for waking him because he has no way of serving their agrarian society.

They explain to him a meteor, sufficient to alter the entire ecosystem of Earth, is about to crash into the Indian subcontinent. His work with a satellite defense system from the past can help destroy the meteor. He becomes angry, however, after they say if it wasn't for this problem, he would still be asleep him out and uncured. They show Matthew what happened after he was put in sleep: In 2043, a nuclear exchange wiped out eighty-percent of the human population. The 200,000 survivors pledged to never trust machines again.

Despondent, Matthew believes because he does not share the gifts of the others in the village, he will never belong to their community. Sarah comforts him, and tells him they can perform surgery on his brain and give him the same abilities they have. However, the meteor must be handled first.

Matthew operates a salvaged personal computer used by the commune in an attempt to interface with the old satellite laser network. After the meteor makes a course correction upon reaching orbit, Matthew realizes it is not a meteor, but a United States spacecraft. Sarah reveals she used her psychic powers to fool Matthew, and explains her community is threatened by the instigators of the war who are returning to Earth. The spacecraft left Earth during the war they started to save their lives to perpetuate their power.

The survivors have no defense, however. Violence and murder are not in their nature. She claims they did not want to trick him, but they knew he would not want to destroy the spaceship despite the fact the ship has weapons and would likely start the destructive war over again. Because of the "time dilation effect", time slowed for the ship’s crew and only a few years passed for them.

Matthew does not believe Sarah, and he attempts to stop the weapon. Sarah thwarts his efforts by removing a piece of equipment from the computer. After the ship is destroyed, Matthew discovers there were indeed weapons aboard. However, he still feels like an outsider, and does not know his value to the community, especially since they tricked him into destroying the ship. Irene claims he is one of them now, and he learns to begin his psychic journey.

Closing narrationEdit

In his mind, he starts to hear a song, a song of alien thoughts speaking without voice, welcoming him. Matthew Forman, once a sleeper standing outside time, has found his place at last. A voyager touching the farthest shores...of the Twilight Zone.

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