The third episode of The Fantastic Journey, "Beyond the Mountain" introduces the final piece of the series' character equation: Roddy McDowall's temperamental scientist, Dr. Jonathan Willaway, a man whose plane disappeared over the Sea of Japan in 1963.
The character of Willaway would promptly become an important one for The Fantastic Journey, offering the writers another viewpoint to explore, and another way of handling crises.
Where Varian, Lianna, Scott and Fred tend to agree easily on how to grapple with any given situation, Willaway is a bit more independent...and feisty. In short, he adds the element of the unpredictable, and that's important for the entertainment value of the series, as well as the emerging character development.
Lianna rejects Willaway's advances, and he drugs her to keep her prisoner at the villa. He then attempts to re-program Cyrus to eliminate the android's feelings for her.
"He does not think of us as beings of any worth," the leader comments about Willaway, and from this remark one can see how the episode's central metaphor is crafted. "Beyond the Mountain" is a comment on, for lack of a better word, "the white man's burden," and here a white westerner has re-located a race of "lesser beings" off their land for his own benefit. Just substitute green skin for red skin, and you understand the historical analogy.
Here, Willaway keeps a society of androids serving him and is unable to countenance the idea that they could be sentient creatures deserving of the same rights and freedoms he enjoys.
They are only "an amalgam of simulated flesh and bone," he declares at one point. Willaway even tells his son, "your marrow is transistorized; your heart is a battery; your veins and arteries are wire filament." This might be another way of saying that because their skin is different than his; they are "less" than human, a widely-held belief of slave owners in America a hundred-and-fifty years ago.
Adding to the depth of the commentary, Willaway generally treats his android slaves with what he believes is love and kindness, even though he is still firmly master and they still obedient servants. You've certainly heard the argument that pre-Civil War South, slaves were treated "well" and cared for affectionately. Perhaps that was indeed true in some instances; but the slaves were still slaves, susceptible to the whims and wishes of a master who believed them nothing more than property. A cage is a cage, even if the warden isn't overtly cruel. Because some slaves were treated with kindness does not make the institution of slavery morally acceptable.
Or as he puts it at the denouement, society and he "do have problems."
You'd think, given his actions, that Willaway would be played as an out-and-out villain, and left defeated and vanquished by episode's end. But The Fantastic Journey, to its credit, offers a bit more dimensionality in its treatment of Willaway.