Her name is the Arrow One. She represents four and a half years of planning, preparation and training, and a thousand years of science and mathematics and the projected dreams and hopes of not only a nation but a world. She is the first manned aircraft into space. And this is the countdown, the last five seconds before man shot an arrow into the air.
Now you make tracks, Mr. Corey. You move out and up like some kind of ghostly billyclub was tapping at your ankles and telling you that it was later than you'd think. You scrabble up rock hills and feel hot sand underneath your feet and every now and then, take a look over your shoulder at a giant sun suspended in a dead and motionless sky...like an unblinking eye that probes at the back of your head in a prolonged accusation. Mr. Corey, last remaining member of a doomed crew, keep moving. Make tracks, Mr. Corey. Push up and push out because if you stop...if you stop, maybe sanity will get you by the throat. Maybe realization will pry open your mind and the horror you left down in the sand will seep in. Yeah, Mr. Corey, yeah, you better keep moving. That's the order of the moment: keep moving.
After wandering aimlessly for an extended period, he sees a set of power lines and realizes that that's what Pierson was attempting to draw. A highway and road signs reveal that the ship crashed on Earth and the men had been in the Nevada desert the entire time.
Practical joke perpetrated by Mother Nature and a combination of improbable events. Practical joke wearing the trappings of nightmare, of terror, of desperation. Small human drama played out in a desert ninety-seven miles from Reno, Nevada, U.S.A., continent of North America, the Earth, and of course the Twilight Zone.
Next week, you'll drive with Ms. Inger Stevens, who starts out on what begins as a vacation and ends as a desperate flight. She begins her trip next week on The Twilight Zone and you'll be with her when she meets "The Hitch-Hiker." We hope you'll be alongside. Good night.
"I got fourteen thousand manuscripts in the first five days. Of those fourteen thousand, I and members of my staff read about five hundred. And four hundred and ninety-eight of those five hundred were absolute trash; hand-scrawled, laboriously written, therapeutic pieces of writing from sick people. Of the two remaining scripts, both of professional quality, neither fitted the show." —Rod Serling quoted in The Twilight Zone CompanionDespite this, Serling did end up producing an idea from an industry outsider when he paid Madelon Champion $500 for the idea on which this episode was based, an idea that came up in a social conversation between the two. Though Serling was frequently approached with suggestions for the series, such a purchase was never repeated.
Much of this episode was filmed in Death Valley National Park.
The title of the episode comes from the opening line of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's “The Arrow and the Song”: “I shot an arrow into the air, it fell to earth I know not where." Serling also used this title for a prospective Twilight Zone pilot episode that was eventually shot, in modified form, as “The Gift”.