Recently, I bought Ron the complete collection of The Twilight Zone on DVD. Creator and sometimes writer Rod Serling proved prescient with many of the episodes—as well as offering brilliant, accurate social commentary.
One such episode is called “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street”, which originally aired March 4, 1960.
On a sunny, summer Saturday afternoon, an unusual noise and bright light appears in the sky. Inexplicably, everything electrical shuts off—as well as telephones, lawnmowers, cards and transistor radios.
Neighbors spill out onto lawns, asking one another if they have power—and wondering what in the world happened. One of the men volunteers to walk into town to see if the police know what’s going on. Maybe it’s sunspots or some other type of celestial phenomenon?, they surmise.
Just then, a young boy pipes up: “They don’t want you to leave! That’s why everything shut off.” Most of the adults laugh, but one of the men asks him to explain. The boy says that in one of his comic books, aliens visit the Earth, shut off all the power and isolate the people. The kicker, though, is that the aliens sent four creatures—disguised as a mother, father and two children—ahead of time, to infiltrate the neighborhood.
The adults laugh. A few of the men prepare to head into town and an elderly repairman walks to a neighboring street to see if they have power.
Next thing you know, one of the cars starts running all by itself. It doesn’t take long for the denizens of Maple Street to get twitchy. They start to accuse the car’s owner of being the alien. “Yeah!”, yells one of his neighbors “I see him at night, looking up at the stars…as if he’s waiting for something!”
The neighbor explains that it’s just his insomnia—and that he takes walks at night because he can’t sleep.
Lights begin to go on and off in another person’s house. Now, the neighbors move on to that person—using every idiosyncrasy as “proof” that he’s the invading alien.
It doesn’t take long for the guns to come out. When the elderly repairman checking out the next street comes back, one of the hysterical neighbors mistakes him for a “monster” (not even allowing the guy to get close enough to see who he was)—and shoots him to death.
Pandemonium breaks out, screams erupt, the screen goes black and more gunshots ring out.
Next we see humanoid aliens viewing the Maple Street mayhem through their ship’s screen. “That’s all we need to do”, they calmly remark. “Just shut off their devices and their suspicions will do the rest.”
After fading to an image of myriad stars, Rod Serling’s voice says:
The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes and prejudices to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill, and suspicion can destroy, and the thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own.
Interestingly, in her book Tarot Companion: An Essential Reference Guide, Tracy Porter says of the number Five:
Five can be seen as intellectual, communicative, and analytical…ruled by the planet Mercury…Positively, Five is versatile, witty, and quick thinking. Negatively, it is nervous, gossipy, and overly critical.
Talk about a one-two punch! We have the already intellectually oriented Swords suit, compounded by the agitated, mental energy of Five.
Wouldn’t you say the 5 of Swords is the perfect card for the “Monsters on Maple Street” episode?
Indeed, anytime there’s a mob looking for a scapegoat—someone to blame or defame via an organized effort—we have 5 of Swords energy in its most vile of expressions.
And, unfortunately, this repugnant energy has transferred from the playground and school bus onto the internet in the form of cyberbullying, anonymous slander, online harassment, stalking, calls for book burning and character assassination.
Or, maybe you’re the “alien” accused of invading a group or online neighborhood, with every move analyzed and judged as hostile, menacing or dangerous?
Indeed, aliens wouldn’t need to annihilate humanity via brute force (if that were on their agenda). No, all they’d have to do is produce some glitches and outages to cause slight discomfort—then sit back and watch as we destroy one another with our suspicions, fears, tongues and guns.
You can see the full episode of "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" below.
P.S. Check out Mitch Horowitz's piece at HuffPo Why Rod Serling Still Matters.