Four U.S. soldiers who fought in the same combat area are shot during battles. It is discovered during emergency surgery that each soldier now has two sets of brain waves and brains. They have survived bullets made with fragments of a material previously unidentified, leaving them with above genius I.Q.s.
“The Inheritors (Part 1)” is the first half of the only two-part episode of The Outer Limits. The first episode is an ambitious setup for a longer sci-fi story. It starts in a battle sequence, jumps to a hospital, then turns into an intelligence mystery. This is a sci-fi/mystery/thriller given the time to breathe and develop.
Despite the fantastical premise, “The Inheritors (Part 1)” is one of the more realistic episodes of The Outer Limits. These war scenes, in particular, are meant to look real. There is a sense of danger and unease in their design. The distant sound of gunfire is ever present. A variety of different plants and rocks are used to create natural terrain broken up by trenches. The layout is simple and effective. Any otherworldly elements are left just out of reach of the screen. The audience fills in the blanks.
Take the discovery of the bullet shell. The intelligence officer travels halfway around the world to investigate the origin of the bullets used to shoot the soldiers. He’s given the exact location of a great fire from the sky. He travels with a military captain beyond enemy lines to see the crash site. They get to witness what remains of the meteorite harvested for bullets; we do not. It’s just outside of the frame.
This is how the spectacle of the science fiction is layered into “The Inheritors (Part 1).” When the last soldier begins to rapidly develop new hobbies and skills through his I.Q. growth, there is no visual evidence of it. We hear his voice, perhaps a sound effect or two, and the result of what he can now do. The rest is driven by dialogue and imagination.
“The Inheritors (Part 1)” excels at what a two-part episode should. There’s a strong premise to build on. You learn bits and pieces of the mystery, inching ever closer to the solution. New characters are introduced to push the story forward, showing how expansive the reach of the story actually is. Most important of all, this episode leaves you wanting more.
content warning: war, gun violence, blood, medical/surgical footage
Up next: S2E11 “The Inheritors (Part 2)”