Episode 66 – “Two”

Serling summarizes the episode with the simple description that it is a love story in The Twilight Zone. And that it is, but a love story set in conditions hardly conducive to the fostering of love, or of anything short of hatred and hostility between two individuals from opposing countries in the immediate aftermath of war.

When soldiers from opposing armies meet on the battlefield in war, how they should act is governed by their relationship to the armed force of the country of which they are a member, which typically requires them to attempt to kill or at least disarm and imprison the members of the opposing force. Interactions between opposing forces are not completely outside of considerations of justice. Though at the time this episode aired, theories of global justice and limits on the appropriate use of military force were not as widely discussed as they have been in the period since,  philosophers since Aristotle have theorized about whether there are just wars, and what determines the constraints of conduct in war.

Not only is the war over in this episode, but the outcome of the war is the obliteration of the countries that were at war. Just two soldiers remain, as far as we can tell, in tattered uniforms of their opposed forces, and they meet in the burned out wreckage of some unnamed city. The clothes on their back, virtually their only possessions, play a central role as reminders for them, and for us, of their prior but changing allegiances.

The “two” begin by trying to kill each other. They end up as friends, maybe ultimately lovers. The path from hatred to distrust, to partial trust, and then peaceful coexistence is slow and halting, and the argument for this profound change is based on the recognition that the grounds for conflict have disappeared. The two are no longer soldiers or even citizens of different countries. They are survivors on the same planet, on the same ruined urban landscape, with no one to protect and no one to attack. The obviousness of this fact extinguishes the conditions for conflict.

“Two” represents one possible path to world peace, though clearly at a price no one would be willing to pay. Peace isn’t simply the absence of war, it is the absence of war among nations. Perhaps this is acknowledged in describing this as a love story, rather than as a story about the possibility of world peace.

Further Reading:

Aquinas, T. “Summa Theologiae IIaIIae 40: On war,”

Rawls, J., 1999, The Law of Peoples, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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