Episode 5 “Walking Distance”

A forty-year-old executive in the fast track, Martin Sloan is impatient, tired, and unfulfilled. Stopping to get gas for his fast little sports car, he finds himself just “walking distance” from Homewood, his childhood town. While the car is being serviced, we see Martin walk to Homewood, through the looking glass of a cigarette vending machine. Through the looking glass.

The mile and a half walk takes Martin to another place and another time. But this isn’t time-travel through a time machine, it’s time travel by way of memory and imagination. Serling represents the depth and thickness of Martin’s passionate memory of the smells, thoughts, and feelings of a childhood summer day in such a compelling way, that we find ourselves time-traveling to those moments in our own childhoods.

But you can’t go back. “There’s no room.” Why? The matter is discussed by Martin and his father, and the answer is not that its metaphysically impossible for the older Martin to share that summer with his 25 year-younger self, (the episode has already represented that, somehow – see “Mirror Image”)┬ábut that it would be wrong to do so.

The metaphysics of time-travel doesn’t seem to be the main concern, perhaps because what is being explored is memory and imagination, that we can dream of meeting and talking with our younger self, and of trying to impart wisdom to it. Maybe we also have to overlook the fact that Martin returns from the past with a limp that he didn’t have before the visit to Homewood, a limp that results from an accident caused by the elder Martin’s attempt to talk to the younger Martin. (See”Little Girl Lost” for further discussion of whether this represents a possible state of affairs.)

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