Saturday, August 4, 2012

Top 10 Most Confounding Episodes of the Twilight Zone

(photo @ wikipedia)


The Twilight Zone has always been a favorite show of mine, both for its fascinating stories and its anthology format giving many talented writers, actors, and directors a chance shine. When the original series debuted in 1959, each episode would conclude with a twist ending along with some type of a moral/message.

When the show was revived in 1985 and 2002, there were some great episodes (a few of which will be profiled during the month of October), but there were also a few that just didn't make much sense...or any sense at all. It's expected that you will need to suspend your disbelief to a large degree when entering 'The Zone,' but sometimes the random weirdness (or absolute implausibility) of an episode's ending was just too much to get past.

Below are RamblingBeachCat's top ten "modern" Twilight Zone episodes whose endings will leave you scratching your head...or maybe I'm just stupid....but check out the list anyway. The conclusion to each episode is revealed after a border below the video embeds in case you want to watch it unspoiled.





10. The Elevator 

The fact that this one was written by the great Ray Bradbury himself would normally mean an automatic slam dunk. Unfortunately, what starts out as a terrifying and atmospheric chiller slams head first into a completely nonsensical conclusion.

Two brothers named Will and Roger go in search of their missing father, who is a scientist. When they enter his lab, they discover that he had been working on a genetic experiment to create a super food...which the rats, a house cat, and a dog had all ingested and grown to Mark McGuire sized proportions.

But they were all dead. So what killed them....?



---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


How it ends
After the brothers have a Stephen King-esque moment where they reminisce about riding in the lab's old elevator as kids, it actually starts to descend. When the door opens, a giant spider pops out and kills them.

Why it doesn't make sense
First of all, if something like this ever happened to me (or anyone else), my response would not be to yell out an identifier like "IT'S A SPIDER!"; it would instead involve high pitched screaming, a multitude of swear words, and uncontrollable/massive defecation.

As far as the actual ending is concerned, how the heck does the chain of discovery (rat, cat, dog) lead to a giant spider? Also, what was the deal with the elevator? Why even bother showing the main characters as kids playing in it seconds before they get killed?

Don't get me wrong; giant spiders are awesome no matter what they're in...but this conclusion just didn't work.




9. The Placebo Effect

A hypochondriac patient named Harry is admitted to the hospital, but this time he may really be sick. His blood isn't clotting and there are strange black lumps all over his body. It is eventually discovered that the disease came from Harry's imagination; he had been reading a book about an alien virus that was unleashed on earth with the exact same symptoms.

The hospital is put under quarrantine as everyone comes down with the same illness. Finally, Harry's doctor realizes that if he imagined the illness, she can get him to imagine a cure.


Part 1



Part 2



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How it ends
To pull off her brilliant plan, the doctor tells Harry (whose imagination manifests what he thinks about) that a meteor landed in a field nearby that contained an alien substance they could use as a vaccine.

The doctor injects him with a placebo, which ends up working and curing everyone. Unfortunately, Harry also thought about the crashed meteor, which inexplicably causes the earth to instantly enter an ice age...and somehow didn't knock the hospital's power out.

Why it doesn't make sense
So Harry reads something in a book about a disease, and the disease happens. Okay, that I can easily suspend my disbelief for if I'm watching the Twilight Zone. But then someone tells him about a meteor...and it actually crashes to earth?

How does that work? Is the meteor and an alien virus the only thing a home bound, hypochondriac man (that says he reads a lot) ever thinks about? Shouldn't his house also be filled with Playboy models as well?

Also, why tell a man with the power to manifest things with his mind about a meteor crashing to earth at all? I bet Dr. House and his team wouldn't have even considered using that as a solution....or diagnosing it as lupus.


8. To Protect and Serve

This episode stars Usher as a singer that can't act and a police officer that protects a prostitute from her evil pimp...by shooting him dead. Unfortunately, the pimp has magical afterlife powers that somehow allow him to prank call Usher at home and kill the girl anyway.



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How it ends
After killing the prostitute, the pimp decides to bring her back into the real world and kill her again in front of the police officer that shot him. Usher responds by shooting himself so that he can protect the girl in the afterlife.

Why it doesn't make sense
Seriously?

Even though Usher's acting is far from top notch, you can tell that he is supposed to be a good cop. Did he really decide that the best use of his courage, bravery, and eternal soul was babysitting a hooker in the spirit realm? I'm sure his friends, family, and partner are thrilled about that decision.

And why did the pimp bring the girl back again? He already killed her once; now he's just showing off and being a jerk.




7. Teacher's Aide

Miss Peters is a teacher in a very rough school that also has a poorly sculpted stone gargoyle on top of it. One day, the gargoyle gets squirrley and decides to possess Peters, giving her authority and power that she struggles to control.

Part 1




Part 2




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




How it ends
After Miss Peters humiliates multiple members of an interracial gang, their leader (who has the unfortunate name of 'Wizard') decides to fight back. He tracks Miss Peters to a storage room of the high school, where he finds her partially transformed into an actual gargoyle.

Wizard tries to fight her off, but she gains the upper hand. Just as she is about to kill him, however, Peters hesistates, tormented by her remaining humanity. At this point, the most powerful and pinpoint accurate lightning storm of all time happens. Bolts of horrible 80's CGI lightning repeatedly strike the stone gargoyle with enough force to destroy it and free Miss Peters from its curse.

Why it doesn't make sense
As a teacher, I was actually kind of enjoyed getting to watch Miss Peters throw down on the unruly students. Sure there was the whole skin condition and mirror hallucinations things, but she actually got control of her classroom and had the kids engaged in the lesson for once.

Not only that, but like I mentioned before, the lightning storm was completely out of left field. There was no incantation or magical wish made (which I guess could have worked since the protaganist's name was Wizard); it just randomly happened. I'm also not sure how a stone structure is hit by lightning three times in a row with enough force to be demolished like that...even in the Twilight Zone.



6. Something in the Walls

Dr. Mallory Craig is starting his first day of work at a mental health facility. He meets a patient named Sharon Miles, who seems completely normal except for her obsession with only wearing and being surrounded by solid colors. Her fixation, however, is not due to a poor sense of fashion, but because she's convinced that the patterns on everything (walls, clothing, blankets, etc) are actually the faces of people that wish to do her harm.



---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


How it ends
It turns out the faces in the wall really were out to get Sharon (for reasons that are not entirely clear) and they get insanely pissed off when she tries to tell Dr.Craig about their existence. A rain storm (and subsequent water leakage) causes patterns to form on the walls of Sharon's room, which gives them the opportunity they need to take over her body...and trap her soul inside the wall forever.

Why it doesn't make sense
Okay, this episode is actually pretty creepy. But we really aren't given a clear reason why they are going after Sharon...or why they showed themselves to Sharon in the first place...or why the patterns on Dr. Craig's coat he wore during their meetings didn't jump out and get them both.

Just to be on the safe side, I think I'll change my computer background to a nice, solid blue...




5. Time Lapse

An orderly named Zack and a nurse named Maria excitedly discuss their upcoming wedding while transporting a patient with a head wound to his room. When they get there, the pair learn that the man, Tom Fisk, is a Secret Service agent.

As Zack leaves the the room, he suddenly blacks out. When he wakes up, he finds himself in a hotel room; it's two days later, he's miles away from the hospital, and he has no idea how he got there. The blackouts continue, each time with Zack ending up in stranger situations and with no idea what is going on. He eventually comes across evidence suggesting that his lost time is being spent as as a man who is trying to assassinate the President's daughter.



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How it ends
It turns out that Zack isn't being possessed by the assassin, but by Tom Fisk, the Secret Service agent in a coma back at the hospital. He has been using Zack as a conduit to continue his investigation, which results in him stopping the real assassin (who is also the man that gave him the head wound) from shooting the President's daughter.

As a reward for letting his body be unwittingly used by someone else, Zack's consciousness is transferred into Fisk's body. He wakes up and tries to explain to his fiance that it's him, but she backs away in horror and disbelief.

Why it doesn't make sense
I don't need to be told how the Secret Service agent transferred his consciousness, but I would like to know when he got the power to take another person's soul and plug it into his physically impaired body. Also, Agent Fisk knew what he was doing, even writing Zack messages like "Don't fight this." It seems like a pretty jerk move (especially by the story's hero) to finish things off by ruining the poor guy's life.




4. The Once and Future King

Gary is a struggling Elvis impersonator that takes the King's music very seriously. When his manager, Sandra, books him a show in Vegas, he expresses his disgust at the place he feels degraded and eventually killed his musical idol. His manager relates a tale about how she met Elvis in Vegas, where he took her up to his hotel room, gave her a scarf, and went on a strange rant about how he wasn't really who people thought he was.

Gary later gets in a magical car wreck, which puts him back in time to 1954. He ends up hitching a ride from none other than Elvis Presley himself. Gary somehow convinces Elvis that he is his dead twin brother brought back to life. He uses this opportunity to help Elvis reach his destiny as a great recording artist...and maybe save him from becoming addicted to drugs and destroying his own life. Unfortunately, The King isn't interested in playing rock n' roll music at all.




-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How it ends
Elvis and Gary end up getting into a fight. When Elvis accidentally impales himself on a broken guitar (no, seriously, that happens), Gary decides to take over and live Elvis' life himself, playing all the same songs, making the same movies, and even going to Vegas.

The episode ends with Gary/Elvis talking to the younger version of Sandra, giving her the same scarf and crazy sounding speech she would tell Gary about years later.

Why it doesn't make sense

So...is this a 12 Monkeys type situations, but with Gary watching himself in the past whenever he saw a video or listened to an Elvis recording? Is time in a continuous loop where Elvis goes out like a spaz on a broken guitar neck, only to have Gary take over?

And if Gary is really as slavishly committed to doing everything the way "Elvis would have," is he also going to gain all the weight, take all the drugs, and die on the toilet?




3. The Last Lap

Marco takes his terminally ill friend, Andy, for a joy ride in his souped up street racing car. Andy tells Marco that he isn't going to live much longer and he wants him to try and beat their best time on a very dangerous course. They manage to beat it, but the car careens out of control at the finish line.

When the EMT's arrive, they tell Andy that Marco died in the crash, but that he is perfectly healthy and has no signs of having cancer. A guilt ridden Andy feels that it should have been him that died. His grief is exacerbated by the fact that no one else seems very upset over the fact that Marco is gone...and that he keeps seeing Marco everywhere he goes.




---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



How it ends
Marco tells Andy that he should be more comfortable with the idea of death and that everyone dies and goes onto a better place. As Andy finally begins to accept that death isn't as scary as he thought, the story flashes back to both of them in the car. This time when the crash happens, it's Andy who dies.

Why it doesn't make sense
A story that was obviously made as an homage to Jacob's Ladder instead became a ringing endorsement for Marco to win "Worst Best Friend of All Time."




2. Tooth and Consequences

Dentist Myron Mandel has a severe inferiority complex. He constantly doubts himself and believes that his patients hate him...which drives him to the point of a total nervous breakdown. Myron decides that he can't take it anymore and makes the decision to kill himself that day. Before he can do it, however, the Tooth Fairy stops him. He tells Myron that he can grant him anything he desires.

Myron wishes for more patients (and that they all actually like them). He also wishes for Lydia, a woman he was recently rejected by, to fall madly in love with him. His wishes are granted, but they were much more than Myron ever bargained for.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


How it ends
Myron is unable to keep up with his massive amount of adoring patients and the insatiable sexual desire of his new girlfriend. He eventually runs away and hops a train with a group of hobos...who all turn out to be other dentists that were also "helped" by the tooth fairy.

Why it doesn't make sense
Aside from the very disturbing erotic tooth filling that occurs at 8:41, there are a lot of things wrong with this episode.

For starters, are there really that many dentists that would have demanded to have an overwhelming about of patients? I can understand the whole "hot woman that wants me" thing being pretty universal, by why wouldn't more of them just wish for a gazillion dollars and be done with working forever?

Also, since when did the Tooth Fairy become so powerful...and what man in his right mind would turn ever down Teresa Ganzel?


1. The Path

Ali Warner is a writer for a tabloid newspaper who feels she isn't on the right path in life. She meets a man named Kamayo (played by rapper Method Man), who offers to look into her future and help Ali find her way.

When Kamayo's advice works, Ali continues to go back to him. When he warns her against getting on a plane that ends up crashing and killing everyone on board, Ali starts to feel even more dependent on Kamayo for every decision she makes.


Part 1




Part 2




Part 3




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How it ends
Ali becomes frantic when she can't find Kamayo at the coffee shop. She runs outside and finally spots him across the street. As she calls out to him, he turns around, smiles, starts towards her...and gets hit by a car and killed.

The episode ends with the girl from 'Freaks and Geeks' screaming at the corpse of a Wu Tang Clan member that she can't live her life without his guidance.

Why it doesn't make sense

I get the story's message about the dangers of putting your destiny in someone else's hands. What I don't get is how a man that can see the future doesn't even think to look both ways before crossing the street.



Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.