It’s one of TV’s all-time great double twist endings. All Burgess Meredith wants to do is read his books; he’s not interested in being a good bank teller, not really concerned about being a productive member of society. In fact, his only wish is for society to go away, so he can get back to sticking his nose into the pages. The day after his boss yells at him, Meredith takes his lunch in the vault, seeking some literary solitude just as a hydrogen bomb detonates above.
The world has been obliterated, leaving just the far-sighted Meredith and libraries full of books to coexist until the end of time. And then his glasses fall off his face, the lenses cracking, his dream becoming a nightmare. Only The Twilight Zone could conjure a way to one-up the annihilation of the human race — turning Meredith’s personal apocalypse into a somber lesson about society’s interdependence.