"Wintery February night, the present. Order of events: a phone call from a frightened woman notating the arrival of an unidentified flying object, and the check-out you've just witnessed with two state troopers verifying the event, but with nothing more enlightning to add beyond evidence of some tracks leading across the highway to a diner. You've heard of trying to find a needle in a haystack? Well, stay with us now and you'll be a part of an investigating team whose mission is not to find that proverbial needle, no, their task is even harder. They've got to find a Martian in a diner, and in just a moment you'll search with them, because you've just landed in the Twilight Zone."
During a snowstorm, two state troopers are investigating a crash after a woman telephoned them and are led to believe that it was a flying saucer. They follow footprints leading from the crash site to a diner, where a group of passengers from a bus to Boston are waiting for word that a bridge up ahead is safe to cross. Though the only patrons of the roadside eatery are bus passengers, there is one more person than there were people on the bus. Mr. Ross, a skeptical businessman (John Hoyt), who says he has a meeting in Boston, says the driver must have been mistaken, but he swears there were six. There is mutual suspicion among the stranded travelers, as the passengers try to guess which among them is the alien. It is suggested that the two married couples are paired off. An old man laughs at this, saying it sounds like science fiction. In the meantime, several odd things are happening. The jukebox plays on its own, the lights flicker on and off, and sugar bowls explode on the tables. When they receive word that the bridge is safe to cross, they all leave the diner.
Shortly, Mr. Ross returns to the diner alone and tells the cook that the bridge wasn't safe at all and that it collapsed, killing all the occupants of both the bus and the police car. The cook asks the businessman how he survived without even getting wet. The businessman asks what the word "wet" means, revealing a third arm from under his overcoat as he stirs his coffee and lights a cigarette. He says the music and telephone ringing were all illusions. He reveals to the cook that he is a Martian, that Mars plans to start a colony on Earth. Laughing, the cook tells him that he's too late, that he himself is from Venus, which has already started a colony, and that the Martian invasion force has been intercepted. The cook takes off his cap, revealing a third eye in the middle of his forehead. The shocked Martian stares nervously at the cook, and the episode ends.
"Incident on a small island, to be believed or disbelieved. However, if a sour-faced dandy named Ross or a big good-natured counterman who handles a spatula as if he'd been born with one in his mouth, if either of these two entities walk onto your premises, you'd better hold their hands - all three of them - or check the color of their eyes - all three of them. The gentlemen in question might try to pull you into...the Twilight Zone."
Preview for Next Week's Story
"Mr. Burgess Meredith is no stranger to the Twilight Zone, but his role in next week's story is a unique one even to him. The time will be the future, the place just about anywhere where men have been taken over by a machine state. Our story is called 'The Obsolete Man.' It may chill, it may provoke, but will rather certainly leave a mark. Next week on The Twilight Zone, 'The Obsolete Man.'"
Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (in association with)
Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1959) (USA) (TV) (original airing)
The episode is unique, as an actual Twilight Zone contributor is mentioned. As the patrons realize that an alien is amongst the group, Jack Elam's character laughs and says, "She's just like science fiction, that what she is. A regular Ray Bradbury." One of Bradbury's stories became a Twilight Zone episode during the third season ("I Sing the Body Electric").
In one of the few times Serling accommodated his sponsor during an episode, "Ross" takes out a pack of cigarettes and lights and smokes one using three hands. The cigarettes were "Oasis" menthol, the brand that Liggett & Myers was advertising on the program at the time. During the 1950s and 60s, advertisers sometimes subtly "placed" products into the shows they sponsored.
The name on the side of the bus is "Cayuga" which is the name of the production company for the Twilight Zone.
On the "2112 / Moving Pictures" episode of the television series Classic Albums, Rush drummer/lyricist Neil Peart commented on the writing of the song "The Twilight Zone," featured on 2112. The two verses refer to "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" and "Stopover in a Quiet Town."