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Written by William Welch


The kind of thoughtful photography that set Voyage apart from the competition when it was at its best.  Courtesy director Sutton Roley and photographer Winton Hoch.

Director Sutton Roley and photographer Winton Hoch took the time for moody set-ups and camera shots.

Eerie closeup of Kruger   En route home to NIMR, Seaview encounters a derelict submarine sunk for over 60 years--a wreck lying on the ocean floor.  But the U444 seems to have a life of its own - it rises from the sea bottom, and from within can be heard banging (from some lone survivor?)  Inexplicably, her sunken location is over 5000 air-miles from where she reportedly went down, a casualty of the First World War.  Then, the phantom sub mysteriously disappears.  Shortly thereafter, Captain Gerhardt Kruger is rescued at sea; as he comes aboard, his face briefly pulsates a strange red (seen at left), foreshadowing that this isn't going to be just any old episode of Voyage. 

Fine underwater miniature photography.

Kruger claims to be the captain of the S.S. Edelweiss out of Hamburg, and that, incredibly, his ship was sunk by a World War I submarine.  Suspicious of the stranger, but unable to pin down why, Crane assigns Kowalksi to guard his cabin.  Regardless, Kruger seems to come and go at will, popping up in corridors, Nelson's Cabin, and though unwitnessed, Crane suspects him of altering Seaview's course.  He orders Kruger locked in the brig to avoid further question.  Perhaps predictably, the ghostly stranger doesn't remain there, and soon appears in Nelson's cabin to demand the Admiral kill Captain Crane that Kruger might possess his body.     Shackled and chained--but not for long.

Laying this man to rest isn't easy, nor particulary permanent.     Kruger threatens to destroy the boat should Nelson refuse to kill Crane before they cross the 16th parallel, and then he disappears.  When Crane's continued attempts to get Kruger off Seaview fail, he orders him chained-up in the brig, and finally, when Kruger is seen out and about again, Crane and Kowalski trap him in stores and shoot him full of holes.  Apparently dead, Kruger is buried at sea in yet another eerie, fog-shrouded night sequence. 

Crane and the crew are relieved, but not Nelson, who still has the 16th parallel hanging over his head.  In Nelson's cabin, the Captain and Admiral are discussing Kruger when a gun appears on  Nelson's desk. 
Pick up the gun, Admiral. Pick it up!   Directed by Kruger, Nelson picks up the weapon, and under great stress, comes close to shooting his friend.  Regaining control just in time, the Admiral flings the gun away in horror. Not feeling good about almost having killed his captain.

Kruger's phantom submarine.   All too soon, radar picks up a surface object advancing on Seaview.  On the bridge, Crane spots the U444 closing through the night fog--the figure of Gerhardt Kruger stands snapped to attention on deck as he seeks to ram Seaview.  Crane orders a magnetic homing missile fired and obliterates the old U-boat, which although under the control of the ghostly Kruger, is itself made of cold, hard steel, and therefore subject to destruction.  U444 heads to the bottom and Crane heads for the control room.

Almost immediately, Kruger appears in the observation nose with observations of his own. 
Kruger:  "What kind of torpedo did you shoot at the U-Boat?" 
Crane: "It wasn't a torpedo.  It was a metal seeking missile." 
Kruger: "And the fog - it provided no cover?" 
Crane: "Our infra-red searchlights saw right through it." 
Kruger: "Gentlemen, I must ask your forgiveness.  I am beginning to realize I have made a mistake . . . I know now that I am behind the times.  Too far behind.  It was so much simpler.  Everything was so much simpler.  So Gentlemen, I apologize -  and I leave you to your modern world with all its bewildering hardware."  After a thoughtful pause, Kruger asks, "I wonder where it will take you?"  Kruger then disappears (for good?)

"So gentlemen, I apologize...."

Captain Gerhardt Kruger, gone.......for now.   Among fans of the show, The Phantom Strikes is one of Voyage's most popular episodes - and for good reason.  It is filled with rich performances by regulars Richard Basehart and David Hedison who always rose to the occasion of a decent script.  Then there's the fine acting of guest Alfred Ryder as the ghostly Gerhardt Kruger, World War I captain of the German U444.  Plus there's just a ton of unique special effects involving Kruger's derelict U444 and some great eerie shots of Seaview plying a becalmed, fog-bound night sea.  Hey -  it was also well-written.  Phantom was a keeper and generated a sequel episode later in the season.

Thanks to Stephanie Kellerman for the above episode photos.

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