Christmas Specials Wiki
Christmas Specials Wiki

For every human act there is a moment of decision; a single thought, a breath, a heartbeat... after which all possible outcomes narrow to one.

— Opening Narration

"The Conversion" is the Christmas episode of the 1995-2002 Global TV anthology series The Outer Limits, based on the 1963-65 series from United Artists, produced and aired as the thirteenth episode of its first season. It was based on the short story "Two Strangers" by Richard B. Lewis.


In the prologue, Henry Marshall is the fall guy in a corporate scam. Subsequent to his imprisonment he returns to the company he worked for, which is having a Christmas party, to get revenge and retribution. Murder is on his mind. The episode begins as Henry sits in a bar in the same building, where he used to work five years ago. He has just gotten out of prison and is contemplating killing his old boss and workmates who were involved in the scam (but avoided prison). A beautiful woman buys him a drink and asks him what he is thinking. He explains that he is thinking of going to the office Christmas party. She tells him that she knows people who work there and asks to go with him.

While in the elevator to the office floor, she tries to seduce and distract him. As they arrive at his old workplace he pulls a gun, kills three people and is wounded himself by a security guard. The woman he came up with in the elevator looks on sadly and vanishes.

He makes his escape out into the countryside in a car and arrives at a small roadside diner where he is given a free meal. After taking his seat he is approached by a talkative man named Lucas, carrying a lot of money and who seems to know Marshall's name, what he's done and the fact that he is injured. Lucas buys Marshall some more food and a drink. Marshall suspects Lucas has heard about him from one of the many radio reports about the office shootings and is just keeping him occupied until the police arrive.

Marshall gets up to leave. Lucas explains that if Marshall leaves now, the police will see him and he will be killed in a shootout. Even if he leaves later, he will die of an infection from his wound. Lucas pleads with Marshall to wait and listen, even if only for a while. Lucas claims to be able to see "possibilities" and begins to talk about angels and quantum mechanics. Marshall, believing him to be crazy, decides to leave. Marshall shakes hands with Lucas in thanks for the food and drink, and in the process a glow appears around their hands. Marshall makes his way to the restroom and finds that his bullet wound has healed... apparently transferred to the strange man.

Marshall returns to Lucas, who tells him that, even with his injury healed, he will not escape. If Marshall leaves now he will go to another city with no identity or friends, and within six months become a drug addict and eventually die alone.

Marshall explains that his crimes were not serious, and that he suffered more than anyone else in prison. Lucas tries to explain to Marshall how serious his crimes really were, that the "white collar crimes" affected thousands of people. A young girl and her father arrive in the bar, and Lucas explains that the girl's college fund was lost during Marshall's scam. Her father, depressed over the loss, becomes an alcoholic. One night while driving intoxicated he collides with a concrete divider at 67. The girl is in the passenger seat and is killed instantly. Lucas tries to explain that everything and everyone is connected, that friends are real wealth, and that by hurting others Marshall only hurts himself. Lucas says that he is here to help Marshall understand and change, and that Marshall hasn't actually killed anyone. The victims at the office party were not real people, and were placed there seconds before Marshall arrived.

After slowly becoming convinced, Marshall goes to the bathroom once again. He hears the police arrive and sneaks a look back at the table where he was sitting with Lucas. To his astonishment, the man now looks like him and is being arrested by the police... they have seemingly swapped bodies.

As he leaves the diner, Marshall gives the money that was in the strange man's pocket to the diner owner, to hand on to the man whose daughter's college fund was lost.

The episode ends with Lucas, now in Marshall's old body, helping a prisoner off the floor of the jail cell after guards dump him in, starting the cycle again.

A second chance. But redemption follows not a change of body, but a change of heart.

— Closing Narration


The episode was made available on The Outer Limits - Season One DVD set, released by MGM Home Entertainment through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on November 1, 2005.


Actress/actor Character
John Savage Lucas
Beau Starr Jack the Detective
Rebecca De Mornay Woman
Frank Whaley Henry Marshall
Kerry Sandomirsky Mary
Roger Cross Bartender
Tom Butler Mr. Evans
Kamilyn Kaneko Receptionist
Ric Reid Coroner
Ken Tremblett Businessman
Brent Chapman Officer
Michael Cram Father
Nicole Spinola Daughter
William B. Davis Ed
Angela Gann Ed's Wife

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