Story by Alan Brennert
Directed by Wes Craven
Original Airdate - December 13, 1985
Kristoffer Tabori - Kevin Drayton
Anne Twomey - Nola Granville
Gary Cole - Daniel Gaddis
Wendy Girard - Carol Drayton
Betsy Jane Licon - Nola Age 5
Danica McKellar - Nola Age 10
Katharine Wallach - Susan
Richard McGonagle - Lester
Nelson Welch - Ruskin



Kevin Drayton, a high level computer programmer, has designed a hologram column where objects can be virtualized.  One day he and his lab partner, Daniel, notice an object in the column…something they didn't create.  It looks like a human fetus.  They power the hologram down and do a reset, and when it comes back online the object is gone.  When they leave for the day, we see the object return, which is now a real baby. 

The next day Kevin is shocked to find a small girl sitting in the hologram, crying softly, when he gets to work.  The little girl tells him she was there all night, and all alone.  He builds a ball for her in the hologram, and she is suddenly happy, giggling while she is playing with the ball.  He askes her name, which she says is Nola Granville.  He asks where she lives, and she was in Westchester, from across the Sprained Lake.  His lab partner knows the Westchester area and says there is a lake there, called the Grassy Sprain lake.  Kevin asks Nola where she comes from, and Nola says, "Isn't this where I'm supposed to be?"  Kevin smiles, and Nola smile back at him.

As the day progresses, Nola appears to get older.  The next time we see her she is about 10 years old, but she's dressed in the style of an earlier time, about the 1910's. Kevin asks her if she gets bored just sitting there, in the hologram.  She tells him she doesn't, because she spends the time remembering her outings at Sprain lake with her parents.  When we next see Nola, she is about an adult, around 20 years of age, dressed in the style of the roaring twenties.  She and Kevin have become good friends, and Nola tells him how upset her father got when she recited some of William Butler Yeats to him, which had the a word that her father considered vulgar.  Nola clearly did it to spark her father's anger.  Her father doesn’t want her to attend college, because women don't do that.  But Nola defies him and gets her degree.

Nola asks him if he's married, but Kevin tries to bring the conversation back to her.  Nola persists, and Kevin tells her how he met Carol, something he may not have thought of for a long time.  It also reminds him how happy they were.  Nola is visibly a bit jealous, but she reminds Kevin that she must be a strong, intelligent woman, for Kevin to have married her.  Kevin looks like he had not thought of this for a long time, either.  Nola appears to be living her prior life out within the hologram, since she steadily gets older, but Kevin and Daniel can't figure out why. 

While all this has been going on, Kevin has left his wife, Carol, to stay at the lab.  Carol and Kevin has been disagreeing on having a child, which has been adding to the strain on their marriage; Carol reminds him that he knew she wanted children when he married her.  Carol isn't sure if he is really leaving her for good, or just until whatever problem he's working on is solved, and neither is Kevin.  Daniel has also been out researching Nola's life, and talks to one of her descendants, who still live in Westchester at the house Nola grew up in.  He gets confirming evidence from the descendant on Nola's information, and she shows him a photo of Nola and her husband. 

When next we see her she is a woman in love.  She tells Kevin that she has met Robert Goldstone, a man who was "nothing like the polo-playing dunderheads I grew up with."  He is an activist and tutor at NYU and wants to help the world, and they get married, despite her father's disapproval.  Nola says that Robert listened to her, just as Kevin does, and she smiles at him.

In the next scene with Nola, she is now a settled married woman who is going to have a baby, while working at the university's poetry review publication.  Kevin asks if the baby was a boy or a girl.  Suddenly Nola doubles over in pain, and there is nothing Kevin can do since she is living in a virtual world.  After a minute or so of this, Nola looks around, as if unsure where she is.  She tells Kevin that she has to be alone, just for a little while, and disappears.  Kevin is astonished, as is his lab partner.  Neither of them thought she could appear or disappear at will, or rather, they never took the time to consider it. 

Awhile later, a visibly older Nola reappears.  She tells Kevin that she lost the baby girl.  Kevin is shaken, and he remembers when Carol had told him that she wanted a child to give it the childhood she never had, since her mother was an alcoholic.  Kevin seems to remembering many things that he and Carol had talked about, which he had forgotten.

As time goes by, Kevin and Nola, by now looking as if she's in her 60's, play chess on a virtual chess game he has programmed inside the hologram.  Kevin compliments her on her chess skills.  She tells him that Robert had taught her chess, just as she checkmates Kevin and remarks, "You're learning," when he looks surprised.

Daniel has found an old acquaintance of Robert and Nola's, a blind man living in a nursing home. He says that they were a lovely couple, but that Robert lost so much of his love of life after Nola died.  When Daniel asks him how Nola died, the old man says, "In childbirth."  Daniel is left to wonder what is going on back at the lab, since Nola should not be there now if she died in childbirth.

Back at the lab, Kevin is sleeping on a cot by the hologram, and Nola is watching him.  She is now obviously a woman in her 70's or older.  She somehow dials the phone, using the programmed number for Carol at home, and in Kevin's voice asks Carol to come and pick him up at the lab.  Carol is crying happily as she says goodbye.

Nola wakes Kevin up, telling him she has to leave.  He is confused and tells her she can't, but she shouts at him and says she has no choice.  Kevin begins shouting, "I can't loose you again!", and Nola says, as if to a child, "Like you lost me before."  Kevin is stunned.  He realizes now that this is exactly what he meant, and says he doesn't remember any of it.  Nola tells him that he remembered enough to be afraid, and it was causing him to turn away from his wife in this present life because he didn't want to lose her, either.  Safer to never love than lose love.  Nola tells him he has a life to live out and not to turn away from it, not again.

She stands up, as if to leave, and Kevin asks her to wait, gently.  He finds the book of William Butler Yeat's poetry that they had been discussing, and reads the lines about "her pilgrim soul." 

Nola looks at him fondly as he recites the lines, and at the end says, "Goodbye, Robert."  She vanishes. 

Kevin is left staring at the empty hologram, in a daze, when he gets buzzed from the guard's desk, and they tell him his wife is there.  Kevin hurries to the door and opens it, where he finds Carol standing, smiling at him.  He hugs and kisses her, overwhelmed to be able to freely feel the love he has always had for her.  After a few seconds, Carol looks at the hologram and asks Kevin what it is.  Kevin looks around and sees the same ball he had made for the small Nola, which is bounced out of the hologram to Kevin and Carol.  They both catch it and gaze into each other's eyes, thankful to have found each other again. 



A bewitching tale of fate, reincarnation, and lost and found love, "Her Pilgrim Soul" is a tour de force. It is one of the single best teleplays presented on television, ever.  Everything in it, ideas, pacing, writing, directing, casting and special effects, combine to make it a mesmerizing production.  I remember the first time I watched this, on it's original broadcast in December 1985; I was floored by the story and how the emotions it stirred made me feel.  99.9% of television doesn't even attempt to get to this level of intelligent writing. I can still watch it today and experience those same feelings of wonder, sadness and hope.  It's probably the reason I created this website, and why I became the champion of the series.

Alan Brennert, who was one of the main creative forces behind the new Twilight Zone, wrote the teleplay for the NTZ in honor of a friend that died.  He later turned the teleplay into a short story, which is in Alan's book "Her Pilgrim Soul, and Other Stories;" this is a stellar compilation and should be in your library.  It also features Alan's short story "Healer," which is one of the earlier new Twilight Zone episodes. 

The casting in this episode couldn't be better.  Anne Twomey IS Nola; there is no other way to describe it.  She does such a good job that it doesn't seem like acting.  Twomey must portray a woman from young adulthood through old age, and while makeup does help with the progression her abilities are such that she makes us believe she is actually growing old before our eyes.  Her joy at finding the poetry of William Butler Yeats is palpable, yet the sly gleam in her eye as she discusses how upset her father was when he found out she was reading it, is priceless.  Yeat's poetry is prominent in several places in the story, and might be called the "wrapper" of the piece. 

Kristoffer Tabori does an exemplary job as Kevin, the man who loves his wife but is afraid to love her too much, just in case he loses her; he has no idea why he has this irrational fear.  He portrays Kevin as a man so conflicted and confused that he cannot deal with his married life anymore.  Though he has no memories of his prior life, when faced with the loss of Nola again he does finally remember enough to say that he can't lose her again, and renders himself speechless.  He is visibly shocked to come to this realization, and Tabori's acting here is incredibly nuanced.

Wendy Girard has the small but pivotal role of Carol, Kevin's wife in his present life.  She has about seven minutes of screen time, but she makes her presence felt.  Her voice is distinctive, and her demeanor in those seven minutes changes from confident, to wounded, and on to triumphant at the end.  She hits every right note in her performance, and we're left to feel that she deserves all of Kevin's love, not just part of it.

Gary Cole is steady and questioning as Kevin's lab partner, who hits the street to find out Nola's background.  Nelson Welch, a member of Eva La Galienne's famed theatrical company from the earlier part of the 20th century, even makes a cameo appearance as one of Nola's friends from the 1930's; he does a wonderful job of setting up the final twist in the story. 

The special effects in this piece are part of the story.  The "virtual display" device, which functions rather like a hologram, is done neatly.  The pinkish overlay added post-production gives a ghostly aura to the objects in the display device, making it seem as if they are not real objects, or people.  Back in 1985 the computers were certainly impressive, though they have lost that feel when watching it today.  The sounds of the old keyboards, though, bring back memories for me.