The 7th Is Made Up of Phantoms
Later, the captain enters the Custer Battlefield National Monument. A soldier reports that all they found was the abandoned tank. The two of them notice the names of their missing soldiers on the monument with the names of Custer's men. The captain states that it was a pity the missing soldiers couldn't have taken the tank with them to the battle.
Comment: Alas, this episode doesn't include any Indians. Not even Latinos, Italians, or Greeks dressed as Indians.
The captain has the best line when he says to Connors:
But a few odd things:
This is silly on several fronts. Why would Indians shoot an arrow in the confines of a tipi rather than, say, use a knife? Why would they attack a lone, unarmed stranger at all? How did it happen without a single outcry or shout of pain? Why did the Indians let McCluskey go? How is he able to function with an arrow in his back? And why is there no arrow the next time he's shown?
A reviewer agrees:
The Twilight Zone: “The 7th Is Made Up Of Phantoms”/“A Short Drink From A Certain Fountain”
He gets an arrow in the back for his troubles (although for once, this isn’t immediately fatal), and it’s ridiculous, but it’s also deeply creepy in a way that a more conventionally structured sequence would not have been. We never see a single Native American throughout the episode, just the effects of their passing, and as unfortunate as the story’s politics are (it’s weird to see something these days that treats “fighting alongside Custer” as a worthwhile and heroic goal), that lends the whole half hour a general air of creepiness that makes it compelling even when the writing fumbles.
Actually, the soldiers haven't decided anything yet. They stumble over a ridge and see the battle in progress. They check their weapons before Connors shouts:
If the Indians stripped the soldiers of their gear, leaving only their dog tags, the soldiers would've looked like anyone else. Those who surveyed the battle site would've assumed they were part of Custer's troops. So their choice isn't clear.
I guess the names on the monument imply they joined Custer. It's just funny that no one is willing to say it.
An earlier exchange offers an alternative and shows the episode's ambivalence:
LANGSFORD: Now what I wanna know is, what's gonna happen next?
CONNORS: We're gonna wind up at a massacre. That's what.
LANGSFORD: You gonna stop it?
CONNORS: Yeah. Stop it, or ... join it.
Anyway, I agree this episode is flawed. The producers spent too much time on the opening and not enough on the ending. They should've handled the Indian "village" differently--said it was an outlying camp, and shown arrows fired from afar and missing the soldiers.
Most important, they should've said which side the soldiers were joining. Either way, it would've made for a provocative message. Viewers could've learned a lesson about doing the right thing...or the wrong thing.
P.S. You can see images from the episode here:
The 7th is Made Up of Phantoms--Quotes and Sound Clips
Below: McClusky foolisly goes to scout the Sioux "village."