Major Ivan Kuchenko, a Russian defector, is sleeping in a cheap hotel in a neutral European city when the phone rings. He answers it and the man at the other end talks to him by name and says that he’s contacting Kuchenko on behalf of his “friends.” The man asks Kuchenko to stay in the hotel room and prepare for a visitor. Kuchenko is unaware that the man, Commissar Vassiloff, is in a darkened room across the alleyway and is watching his every move along with his henchman Boris. Boris wonders why they’re waiting to kill Kuchenko and Vassiloff tells him that Kuchenko’s death will be a work of art...Read the full recap
Martin Landau was also in "Mr. Denton on Doomsday." He was also in a 1985 episode of The Twilight Zone. He also won an Academy Award portraying Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood.
One of the few TZ episodes with no fantastical or supernatural elements.
Boris: Tell me when.
Vassiloff: A good death is the death of art. A bad one is the death of a butcher. You, Boris, are a butch. I am an artist.
Narrator: The cast of characters: a cat and a mouse. This is the latter, the intended victim who may or may not know that he is to die, be it by butchery or ballet. His name is Major Ivan Kuchenko. He has, if events go according to certain plans, perhaps three or four more hours of living. But an ignorance shared by both himself and his executioner is of the fact that both of them have taken a first step into the Twilight Zone.
Vassiloff: Well, it’s quite a place you have here. Who occupied it before you? A rat?
Kuchenko: I had no luxury of choices.
Vassiloff: No, indeed, you have not. In that respect you are a very poor man, Major.
Narrator: Major Ivan Kuchenko, on his way west, on his way to freedom, a freedom bought and paid for by a most stunning ingenuity. And exit one Commissar Vassiloff, who forgot that there are two sides to an argument--and two parties on the line. This has been the Twilight Zone.