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"A Quality of Mercy" is an episode of the The Twilight Zone.

Episode Details

Opening Narration

"It's August 1945, the last grimy pages of a dirty, torn book of war. The place is the Philippine Islands. The men are what's left of a platoon of American Infantry, whose dulled and tired eyes set deep in dulled and tired faces can now look toward a miracle, that moment when the nightmare appears to be coming to an end. But they've got one more battle to fight, and in a moment, we'll observe that battle. August 1945, Philippine Islands - but in reality, it's high noon - in The Twilight Zone."

Episode Summary

A young gung-ho American in World War II, Second Lieutenant Katell, orders his war-weary soldiers to make a near-suicidal attack on a group of sick and wounded Japanese soldiers holed up in a cave. Sgt. Causarano, who knows the men have had enough of war, tries to talk him out of it—the attack will accomplish nothing but pointless deaths on both sides—but Katell pulls rank and stands firm on his orders, intent on proving himself. Suddenly, Lt. Katell finds himself in Corregidor, three years earlier in the war, and gets a new perspective. As Lt. Yamuri in the Japanese army, he is ordered to attack a group of American soldiers in the cave. In vain, he tries to dissuade the captain from the attack, but the Japanese captain believes the young man is sick with jungle fever, or worse, has lost his nerve. He tells him to straighten up or stay with the wounded. His mind reeling from what he has just experienced, Katell finds himself back in 1945 as an American soldier, with his men telling him that they've gotten word the atomic bomb has been dropped. They have been ordered not to attack the cave and to fall back. The young man seems relieved, in light of his revelation.

Closing Narration

"'The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.' Shakespeare, the Merchant of Venice, but applicable to any moment in time, to any group of soldiery, to any nation on the face of the Earth - or, as in this case, to The Twilight Zone."

Preview for Next Week's Story

Next week, an excursion into the shadowland of the hereafter. Miss Gladys Cooper and Mr. Robert Redford combine sizeable talents to bring you a script by George Clayton Johnson entitled "Nothing in the Dark". The dark, in this case, being the little nooks, crannies and closets of those regions presided over by Mr. Death. I hope you'll be with us next week for "Nothing in the Dark."

Production Companies


  • Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1959) (USA) (TV) (original airing)

Home media release

This episode is included on the Image Entertainment Vol. 13 DVD along with "Judgment Night", "The Purple Testament" and "The Obsolete Man".

Memorable Quotes

Main article: List of memorable quotes from the first series

External Links