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The Outer Limits: "Cold Hands, Warm Heart"

Season 2, Episode 2

By Tom BakerPublished 4 months ago Updated 4 months ago 3 min read

Poor William Shatner! He goes rocketing off to Venus and comes back possessed by the spirit of a space mermaid--a very ugly one to boot. It makes him ice cold, and we know this because he can drink whole boiling cauldrons of coffee, and likes to turn the thermostat up to 90.

Of course, all this is par for the course for a space explorer of his renown--dude was making headlines for being an astronaut BEFORE he got the gig piloting the World's Most Famous Galaxy-Class Cruiser. He was hobnobbing with the on-board AI decades before ChatGPT was even a glimmer in the eye of some half-insane, misanthropic cyberjockey.

He comes back from his mission, all happy and frying steaks in the fireplace with his wife, who walks around half-nekkid (at least, by the standards of that era) and serenades him with compassionate kissy-poo while he's laid up in some super-secret government test facility after smashing his way in, punching an MP, and tearing up an office (in other words, just gearing up to be the immortal James Tiberius Kirk. Set phasers to stun).

His very hands take on an iced-over, frozen food section look to them, and he has a bad moment when he locks himself in a sauna and turns the heat on full blast. While frantic gym rats try and break the door down, he hallucinates riding to Venus aboard his carrot-shaped space bullet, right before looking out the viewport to see the misty image of the Space Mermaid evolve, her hideous arms floating by fishing lines (much as the rocket Shatner rides in, which also has a flame jet thingie in the tailpipe) in a misty space. What gives, Pea, and Em?

He has the reaction you might expect. He screams, "There's something on the wing of this rocket ship!" No, actually, beyond the fact that rocketships don't HAVE wings, we recognize this bit from another slice of vintage TV science fiction horror mayhem: the classic, oh-so-classic (did we reiterate that point sufficiently?) "Twilight Zone" episode, "Nightmare at Twenty-Thousand Feet," in which a vaguely cossack -looking sky demon attempts to down a plane, and only Shatner can see it.

That episode was filmed for the big screen, for the accursed and grim-to-watch Twilight Zone the Movie, with John Lithgow playing the Shatner role, and George "Mad Max" Miller directing. Of course, Twilight Zone the Movie is infamous for other reasons, beyond any frightmare fantasticals the special effects artists managed to throw on the screen.

At any rate, all's well that ends well, although we're a little confused as to how this ends and why it ends and why everything, ahem (don't want to give away any spoilers here) seemingly returns to "normal". Seemingly. Wherein is the Space Mermaid? (We use that term because, traditionally, the lore of the sea had mermaids not as beautiful damsels, but as hideous creatures, perhaps the offspring of some Innsmouth breeding program between alien fish people from a Lovecraft story and Just Plain Folks; and isn't it peculiar the Space Mermaid is from the planet Venus, i.e. the "Goddess of Love"?)

In the end, Shatner comes out, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but, still wearing the gloves to hide his hideous Space Iceman hands. But wifey loves him (and possibly the gardener and the milkman, too, but I couldn't definitively say) just as much as she ever did. All is right on Earth, in Space, and in reruns, too.

Note: A couple of episodes later, the late great Leonard Nimoy, the immortal Vulcan Mind-Melder, would star in "The Outer Limits" Season 2, Episode 9: "I, Robot", which was based on the Adam Link stories by Eando Binder (actually a nom-de-plume of Earl and Otto Binder, who wrote for the pulps like Amazing Stories). Adam Link is a robot with super strength and an AI brain that gets accused of murder. Which, in an age when AI is used to target civilians for bombing runs, no longer seems like science fiction. Nimoy plays a hip, with-it, progressive, and thoroughly emoting newspaper writer. He's always a pleasure and a treasure to watch, as is his El Kapitan.

Now, I'm freezing. Could somebody turn up the thermostat?

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

scifi tvvintagetv reviewstar trekspacescience fictionpop cultureextraterrestrialcelebrities

About the Creator

Tom Baker

Author of Haunted Indianapolis, Indiana Ghost Folklore, Midwest Maniacs, Midwest UFOs and Beyond, Scary Urban Legends, 50 Famous Fables and Folk Tales, and Notorious Crimes of the Upper Midwest.: http://tombakerbooks.weebly.com

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Comments (2)

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  • Edward German3 months ago

    Great review, one of the best sci-fi series ever made.

  • Only one thing..., could have made this..., stellar review more..., apropos to William Shatner. That would be his trademark broken speech patterns, lol.

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