This fascinating episode, penned by science fiction writer Harlan Ellison, was the highlight of season 2 of The Outer Limits (with “The Inheritors” coming in a close second). The story unfolds like a riddle, with Trent’s hand providing clues along the way. Robert Culp is perfect as the puzzled Trent, who plays a puppet to his own hand, acting and reacting without ever knowing the complete goal.
The episode benefits considerably from its setting and photography. The Bradbury Building in Los Angeles (where parts of Blade Runner were also filmed) provides a vast interior, where shadows lurk down every corridor and one never knows what lies behind an office door. The expressionistic photography (always an Outer Limits trademark) enhances the setting with unusual angles and deeply textured lighting.
The only flaw is an unexpected relationship that sets the stage for an effective ending, but otherwise comes across as forced and unlikely. Still, that’s a minor complaint against an otherwise original, well-crafted tale.
You may note some similarities between this story and a famous film series. I won’t divulge the famous film here (because it gives away a plot twist), but Ellison did sue the film’s producers and settled out of court.