The inhabitants of Luminos look out, their skin turned hard like stone.

The Outer Limits: S1E29 “A Feasibility Study”

The Outer Limits is streaming for free on The Roku Channel.

A small suburban neighborhood is abducted by aliens. The inhabitants of Luminos want to see if humans can actually survive on their planet. The Luminoids suffer from a terrible disease that essentially turns them to stone. If the strong humans can thrive on the planet, they’ll enslave all of humanity.

“A Feasibility Study” is a sad episode. The narration tells you straight away that this neighborhood has been taken as slaves and will never return home. They have no chance of escape. The choice is compliance or death, as anyone who disobeys is infected with the disease that torments the Luminoids.

In this episode, you watch an entire neighborhood lose hope as they slowly realize something is wrong. The sun doesn’t come up. A thick fog rolls through the area. Cars don’t start. Technology appears and disappears. Everyone is frustrated and tired and confused.

The ensemble cast does a great job with selling the story. There’s tension straight away even in normal, everyday interactions. An argument over whether or not to eat breakfast spills out into the streets. Compliments turn to insults and simple statements are turned into accusations. It’s incredibly nuanced work for a story that relies on tone and visual effect to build tension.

“A Feasibility Study” is hard to watch. The Outer Limits almost always has some way out. There’s a glimmer of hope, a hint of positivity, that suggests that maybe things don’t have to be bad. The bad endings only hit characters with bad intentions. Sure, there are innocent casualties along the way, but the monster has to be shown to be a threat.

Not here. The episode delivers what it promises. This neighborhood will never be the same. They do not get to have a happily ever after. They are doomed to live out the rest of their lives on Luminos, and however they behave will decide if the rest of the planet joins them.

The Luminoids have a simple design. It’s mostly costuming and masks. Their skin is bumpy, ripping through their flowing cloaks as their bodies transform to a rock-like state. Otherwise, they move and act like humans. Their physical condition is the result of disease, though their efforts to enslave other species to work for them is their own dastardly work.

There isn’t another episode quite this sad in The Outer Limits. There are tragic endings and heartbreaking surprises, but not episodes where the tone is so bleak and hopeless. No one is happy even when the story starts and it only gets worse as the characters come to terms with their fate.

Up next: S1E30 “Production and Decay of Strange Particles.”