"Quality of Mercy" is an episode of The Outer Limits television show. It was first broadcast on 16 June 1995 during the rebooted series' first season.
Major John Skokes is taken prisoner during an interstellar war and thrown into a dark cell, where he meets an imprisoned female cadet.
|Men of war have long known that warriors must often abandon those verities they defend. Peace, human kindness, love... for they hold no meaning to the enemy. And so, to win, do we become what we despise... and despise what we become?||
After Skokes is thrown into the cell, he sees his fellow prisoner and, suspicious, questions her about her name, background and unit. Her name is Bree Tristan and she is a cadet. He spots a strange growth on her arm, and she tells him that the alien jailers have been experimenting by grafting samples of their own skin onto her, seemingly in an effort to make her into one of them.
Skokes asks her about the layout of the jail. She tells him that her previous cell-mate was an instructor who they tortured to death, and that there is no way out because the aliens are more intelligent and a hundred times stronger. Skokes tells her how badly the war is going, the outer colonies have been destroyed and that he must get out and back into the fight.
Bree looks again at her skin graft and says that it's the third attempt, and it looks as though it is working this time. Skokes grabs her arm and tries to forcibly rip the graft from her arm — suddenly the huge alien guard appears and drags the cadet out of the cell.
Skokes examines the layout of the cell and manages to climb up to a small barred window on the roof. Using a sharp piece of rock he believes he can slowly cut through the metal bars. In other cells he can hear the sounds of humans being tortured.
Bree is returned to the cell, and having been subjected to further experiments by placing skin grafts on more of her body. She explains how much Earth has changed during the war. A few hours later she is taken for more experiments.
Skokes finally cuts through the bars on the roof skylight and escapes. He climbs along the roof tunnel only to be attacked by an unseen creature. After stabbing it and driving it away, he climbs down, back into his cell... but loses his cutting implement. Bree is thrown back into the cell, now with a considerable fraction of her body covered in alien skin.
Skokes believes he can cut through another set of bars and escape the roof tunnel. He climbs up and while crawling along the tunnel hears Bree being taken again. Looking down into a cell, he sees her being experimented on, and attempts to stab the guard through the bars. The guard grabs his arm and cuts off his hand.
He wakes later back in his cell, with Bree looking on, now extensively transformed. She has given up hope and wants to die. Skokes, unable to give her what she wants, instead tells her an important military secret: There is hope and Earth is not beaten. A large fleet of ships is hidden and the Earth defenses have been feigning a near-collapse. In thirty days the fleet will strike at the alien homeworld, turning the tide of the war.
The guard enters and Skokes jumps up screaming in a futile attempt to prevent Bree being taken again. However, she stands up and walks to the exit. She turns and tells him that he doesn't understand. They are not actually changing her, they are changing her back, revealing that she is an alien, and will reveal the secret she has just been told.
|In the darkest of hours... in the greatest of battles... we must never forget who, or what, we are.||