I Shot an Arrow into the Air-Twilight Zone (1×15)

I Shot an Arrow into the Air (1×15)


“I Shot an Arrow into the Air” is a Twilight Zone story about desperation and survival. A space ship launched and disappeared from communications, prompting the survivors of the crash to assume they landed on an asteroid. One of the survivors and the protagonist of this episode is Colonel Donlin, the symbol for humanity because he cares for the survivors.  Officer Corey is a crew member who wants to survive by any means. He symbolizes desperation. While Donlin wants to try and save the remaining survivors, Corey butts heads with him because of his selfish nature. Because Donlin gives water to a dying man, Corey yells at him and tells him that the dying man doesn’t deserve it, because he is going to die anyway. Eventually, Corey tries to take the water and ends up spilling it in a fight with another survivor who shows sympathy for the dying man. This symbolizes the collision between humanity and desperation in this survival scenario.

Later, Corey goes with the only other survivor to find something to help them survive, but Corey returns to Donlin alone. It is revealed that Corey, through his own desperation, tried to kill the other survivor so he could take his share of the water to survive. Corey tries to lie to Donlin about what happened out of desperation. To further conflict humanity and desperation, Donlin makes Corey take him to the other survivor who is almost dead in order to bring him back and help him.

Corey then takes the opportunity to kill Donlin so he can have his water supply too, showing that desperation will always take dominance over humanity in survival situations. However, it shows that desperation does not always lead to a better result, for when Corey shot Donlin to death, he hit the canteen he was carrying, meaning he drained it of the water he killed Donlin for. And when Corey continues to search for some way to survive, he finds that he was really on Earth the whole time and never left the planet after all. This meant that he killed his crew mates for nothing, and that desperation had destroyed his life and the people he had previously cared for and could have helped survive. Had he continued walking with Donlin, they both would have survived and found help, meaning that humanity would have let them live.

Another symbol in this Twilight Zone episode is the space ship called the Arrow One. This references the title of the episode, which references Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem The Arrow and the Song. The opening line of the poem is “I shot an arrow into the air; it fell to earth I knew not where,” which is directly symbolized through this story. The Arrow One is like a literal arrow shot into the air; it will always come back to the ground, just like the Arrow One had, rather than shoot off into space as the crew had suspected.