‘Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams’ Recap: Impossible Planet Proves You CAN Go Home Again
At the centre of this episode is Geraldine Chaplin (Charlie’s daughter), playing a wealthy old woman with one final wish: to see Earth again. Putting her trust (and her money) into the hands of two space tourism guides, she requests to be transported to the planet she grew up and fell in love on—approximately 320 years ago. Earth, however, hasn’t been inhabited by humans for a very long time, plus it’s a week’s travel time to make it there and back and our two travel guides only have the weekend to give her what she wants/take her money.
Desperate for the cash (or, in one case, engaged to a fiancee who demands it), the two cook up an extremely shady plan to fool the woman into thinking she’s seen Earth when really, they’re just taking her to a closer, Earth-ish planet. Her robot servant sees through their scheme right away, but still allows them to carry on with it.
During the journey, a bond begins to form between the old woman and one of her guides. She tells him about her time on Earth—Elk River Falls, Carolina, specifically—and how it’s the setting of her best memory: the time she went skinny dipping with her husband. She’s even brought the same dress, plus a photo of her husband, Bill… who looks a LOT like the guide she’s befriended.
Soon, he begins to feel very guilty about scheming with his pal to relieve her of her savings (it doesn’t help that the robot keeps giving them disapproving looks). An argument breaks out between the two guides with one more concerned about the money and the other concerned about his conscience.
Arriving at the faux Earth, the woman is convinced it’s the planet she came from and neither guide has the heart to tell her it isn’t. Suddenly, though, her desires become far more specific: she doesn’t just want to see Earth, she wants to see Elk River Falls. And she doesn’t want to just see it from above, she wants to go down to the surface. Out of guilt (or is it love now?) her guide, the Bill lookalike, agrees to the dangerous task.
Crash-landing on the surface of Not Earth, the pair exit the shuttle in space suits—crappy ones that won’t keep them alive much longer than a few minutes. As their oxygen depletes, the woman removes her helmet and is suddenly the young Earth version of herself. The uninhabitable planet is Elk River Falls, circa three centuries ago and the guide is Bill… is it magic? Virtual reality? Oxygen deprivation? We’ll never know, because that’s where the episode ends.