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The Twilight Zone: The Eye of the Beholder

A woman awaits the final results of her face surgery intended to fix her freakish features.

Episode Info

Episode number: 2x6
Production Number: 173-3640
Airdate: Friday November 11th, 1960

Director: Douglas Heyes
Writer: Rod Serling


Guest Stars
William D. GordonWilliam D. Gordon
As Doctor
Maxine StuartMaxine Stuart
As Janet Tyler
Jennifer HowardJennifer Howard
As Janet's Nurse

Co-Guest Stars
Edson StrollEdson Stroll
As Walter Smith
Donna DouglasDonna Douglas
As Janet Tyler (revealed)
George KeymasGeorge Keymas
As Leader
Joanna HeyesJoanna Heyes
As Reception Nurse


In a darkened hospital room, Janet Tyler has her face heavily bandaged. She asks the nurse what the weather is like outside, then wonders when they’ll remove the bandages. The nurse assures her they’ll remove them when they can and that she’s seen worse than what Janet looks like. Janet breaks down sobbing at how people have screamed at her when seeing her face...

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Episode Notes
This episode was remade on the 2002 UPN version of The Twilight Zone.

Rod Serling's original title for this episode was "The Private World of Darkness" and it has been shown in syndication with this title.

Episode Quotes
Opening Narration
Suspended in time and space for a moment, your introduction to Miss Janet Tyler, who lives in a very private world of darkness, a universe whose dimensions are the size, thickness, length of a swath of bandages that cover her face. In a moment we'll go back into this room and also in a moment we'll look under those bandages, keeping in mind, of course, that we're not to be surprised by what we see, because this isn't just a hospital, and patient 307 is not just a woman. This happens to be the Twilight Zone, and Miss Tyler, with you, is about to enter it.

Nurse One: You ever see her face? Patient 307?
Nurse Two: Indeed I have. If it was mine, I'd bury myself in a grave somewhere.

Janet's Nurse: You look tired, Doctor.
Dr. Bernardi: Do I? Well, I hadn't thought about it. I suppose I am.
Janet's Nurse: You've been under a great deal of tension. I know how much it means to you, this case in 307.

Janet Tyler: Doctor? Doctor, may I walk outside? Please, may I? May I just go and sit in the garden? Just for a little while? Just, just to feel the air? Just to smell the flowers? Just, just to make believe I am normal? If I sit out there in the darkness, then the whole world is dark, and I'm more a part of it like that. Not just one grotesque, ugly woman with a bandage on her face, with a special darkness all her own. I want to belong. I want to be like everybody. Please, doctor. Please help me.
Dr. Bernardi: There are many others who share your misfortune. People who look much as you do. One of the alternatives, just in the event that this last treatment is not successful, is simply to allow you to move into a special area in which people of your kind have been congregated.
Janet Tyler: People of my kind congregated? You mean segregated! You mean imprisoned, don't you, Doctor? You're talking about a ghetto, aren't you? A ghetto designed for freaks!
Dr. Bernardi: Miss Tyler! Now, the state is not unsympathetic. Your presence here in this hospital is proof of that. It's doing all it can for you. But you're not being rational, Miss Tyler. Now you know you can't expect to live any kind of a life among normal people.
Janet Tyler: I could try. I could wear a mask or this bandage. I wouldn't bother anybody. I'd just go my own way. I'd get a job, any job. Who are you people anyway? What is this State? Who makes all these rules and conditions and statutes that people who are different have to stay away from the people who are normal? The State isn't God, Doctor.
Dr. Bernardi: Miss Tyler, please.
Janet Tyler: The State is not God! It hasn't the right to penalize somebody for an accident of birth! It hasn't the right to make ugliness a crime!
Dr. Bernardi: Miss Tyler! Miss Tyler, stop this immediately!

Janet Tyler: I feel the night out there. I feel the air. I can smell the flowers. Oh, please, please, take this off me. Please. Please take this off me. Please take this off me. Oh, please, take this off me! Take it off me! Take it off me! Help! Somebody help me! Help! No, no, no, no, let me go. Let me go. Please, please, let me go. Let me go, please. Oh, please. Please, let me go. Please, please, let me go.
Dr. Bernardi: All right, then I will take the bandages off you. Get the anesthetist.
Nurse: Yes, Doctor.

Dr. Bernardi: Well, you try to be impersonal about these things. You do everything medically possible, everything humanly possible, and then in the end you cross your fingers and you hope for a miracle. And, you know, once in a while a miracle does happen. Just often enough to let you know that you're not wrong or foolish to hope for one.
Nurse: You're destroying yourself this way. Forgive me, but you mustn't let yourself get personally involved here.
Dr. Bernardi: I know. You think I haven't told myself that? You see, Nurse, I've looked underneath those bandages.
Nurse: So have I. It's horrible.
Dr. Bernardi: No, I mean deeper than that. Deeper than that pitiful, twisted lump of flesh. Deeper even than that misshapen skeletal mask. I've seen that woman's real face, Nurse. The face of her real self. It's a good face. It's a human face.
Nurse: I understand. But I must confess. It's easier for me to think of her as human when her face is covered up.
Dr. Bernardi: But why? Why must we feel that way, Nurse? What is the dimensional difference between beauty and something repellent? Is it skin deep? No, less than that! Why, nurse? Why shouldn't people be allowed to be different? Why?
Nurse: Doctor, be careful! What you're talking...
Dr. Bernardi: I know...treason.
Nurse: Oh, this case has upset your balance, your sense of values.
Dr. Bernardi: Well, I suppose. Don't be concerned, Nurse. I'll be all right once the bandages are off. Once I know one way or the other.

Leader: We know now that there must be a single purpose! A single norm! A single approach! A single entity of peoples! A single virtue! A single morality! A single frame of reference! A single philosophy of government! We must cut out all that is different like a cancerous growth! It is essential in this society that we not only have a norm, but that we conform to that norm! Differences weaken us! Variations destroy us! An incredible permissiveness to deviation from this norm is what has ended nations and brought them to their knees! Conformity we must worship and hold sacred! Conformity is the key to survival!

Janet Tyler: Mr. Smith?
Walter Smith: Yes?
Janet Tyler: Why do we have to look like this?
Walter Smith: I don't know, Miss Tyler. I really don't know. But you know something? It doesn't matter. There's an old saying. A very, very old saying. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." When we leave here, when we go to the village, try to think of that, Miss Tyler. Say it over and over to yourself. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Come on now. We'll get your things and we'll leave.

Closing Narration
Now the questions that come to mind. Where is this place and when is it, what kind of world where ugliness is the norm and beauty the deviation from that norm? The answer is, it doesn't make any difference. Because the old saying happens to be true. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in this year or a hundred years hence, on this planet or wherever there is human life, perhaps out among the stars. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Lesson to be the Twilight Zone.

Other Episode Crew

Executive ProducerRod Serling
ProducerBuck Houghton
CastingEthel Winant
MusicBernard Herrmann
Make-upWilliam Tuttle
Set DecoratorH. Web Arrowsmith  |  Henry Grace
Director of PhotographyGeorge T. Clemens
Art DirectorGeorge W. Davis  |  Philip Barber
Production ManagerRalph Nelson  |  E. Darrell Hallenbeck
Sound EditorCharles Scheid  |  Franklin Milton
Main Title ThemeMarius Constant
Film EditorLeon Barsha
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