The Best Twilight Zone Episode Ever: A Nice Place to Visit teaches the purpose of a struggle, suffering — and pain
The Best Twilight Zone Episode Ever? “A Nice Place to Visit” is fun — but you wouldn’t want to live there.
How many TV moments change your whole worldview? One unforgettable moment hit me when I heard the key “wow” line of the classic 1959–64 TV series: “This is the other place.”
That one line, the culmination of an unforgettable story, inspired burning questions that have been with me for decades:
- Too much of a good thing. Imagine, for a moment, anything you desire. Now imagine getting that thing and seeing it over and over every day for decades, then centuries. How long would it take for you to lose your sense of desire for that thing?
- A world devoted to you. What if a new world was suddenly wholly and entirely focused on you, a place where all you encountered served your whims, where you got everything you ever wanted? How long would that keep you satisfied? Do we desire what we can’t have more?
- Hell is the place where you get everything you want. What if hell is a self-inflicted menagerie, a world where you get everything you ask for? How long would it feel like Heaven? When would you realize a planet revolving around you isn’t Heavenly — but “the other place?”
- The purpose of life. What if the purpose and point of life are to have real challenges, struggles, and conflicts to overcome?
- The journey. What if life isn’t about getting (and winning) as much as it is about getting there?
“A Nice Place to Visit” is the episode where a criminal dies, meets his guardian angel, and goes to the afterlife. It first aired in April 1960, the end of the first season.
I caught the last half of a rerun decades later, but I never forgot it. Years later, I went to YouTube to watch the whole episode. But I’ve dwelled on its lessons nearly my entire life.
More recently, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime also highlights the episode, showing the lead character’s father marveling over what a fantastic new TV show The Twilight Zone was when it aried. He repeats the critical line, “This is the other place.”
“A Nice Place to Visit” is also reportedly Donald Trump’s favorite episode.
The premise and the ‘wow’ line in context
“A Nice Place to Visit” tells the story of a criminal shot down and sent to the afterlife, where he suddenly finds there is no suffering, no struggle, and no challenges in any way.
The entire afterlife revolves around him and his every wish. He wishes for something (from money to a woman to victory in gambling) and immediately has everything he wants just for the asking.
Again and again. This eventually bothers him because the challenge is gone. Finally, he tells his guardian angel, “I don’t think I belong in Heaven. I think I should be in the other place.”
Biblical scholars know that demons are fallen angels; this is where we realize his guardian angel is a demon, a follower of Satan. The guardian angel serving him, played by Sebastian Cabot, turns red, laughs maniacally, and reveals, “This is the other place!”