"King Nine Will Not Return" is the first episode of the second season of The Twilight Zone. It was first broadcast in September of 1960, and starred Robert Cummings as Army Air Force Captain James Embry. This being the first episode of the second season, it is the first episode to feature a new opening theme, and the first episode where Rod Serling appears on screen to deliver the opening narration, rather than just as a voice over.
The story begins in medias res, where James Embry wakes up alone in the North African desert, next to his crashed B-25 Mitchell bomber. It is World War II, and his plane has gone down on a mission. His crew are nowhere around, and he wanders around his crashed plane and the surrounding desert, becoming increasingly mystified and afraid. As is often the case, the audience is also mystified, and I had no idea what was happening in the story, until the denouement.
The denouement actually was one of the weaker parts of the story for me. Much like in the similar Where is Everybody? (another story about a mystified, solitary pilot that was used as a season opener), I feel that the conclusion was placed there to fit the dramatic conventions and commercial expectations of the time. Without it, the story would just be a man screaming in the desert. Although Robert Cummings is not remembered as a great dramatic actor, he actually manages to carry this episode as a piece of absurdist theater, up until the somewhat abrupt ending puts the story into expected territory.