Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Be Careful What You Wish For

Rocky (Larry Blyden): If I gotta stay here another day, I'm gonna go nuts! Look, look. I don't belong in heaven — see? I wanna go to the other place.

Mr. Pip (Sebastian Cabot): Heaven? Whatever gave you the idea you were in heaven, Mr. Valentine? This *is* the other place!

In the episode of the Twilight Zone that first aired 55 years ago tonight, a bad guy (Larry Blyden) died in a shootout with police, then awoke in the afterlife, in a place where his every wish was granted. Sebastian Cabot was there, and he introduced himself as the bad guy's "guide" whose primary mission was to make the bad guy comfortable.

Things got a little too comfortable for Rocky, though, and he started shooting at Mr. Pip, but even though he was firing from point–blank range, none of his bullets struck Mr. Pip.

That was the point where he realized that he was in the afterlife, and he began asking for all the things that he had dreamed of when he was living, all the things he had believed would make his life perfect — money, fancy clothes, a luxurious apartment, beautiful women. Even though he was dead, he was going to live the high life.

Mr. Pip also arranged for him to win at all the games of chance he had played on earth and lost — only this time, he won. Every time.

All that should have made him happy, but it didn't. Knowing things were set up — with games of chance, with women — robbed them of something. A mistake had been made somewhere, he thought. He didn't belong in heaven.

Then he rationalized it: There must have been something really good that he did that made up for everything else. Otherwise, he simply didn't belong in heaven. That was for Sunday School teachers and the like. (Well, Mr. Pip acknowledged that there were some schoolteachers there ...)

It really began to mess with his mind. What could he have done? And when had he done something good? How could he find out?

Mr. Pip suggested the Hall of Records, so they went there to find the answer. But the answers they found only raised more questions in Rocky's mind. Rocky realized that, from a young age to the time he died, he had been a bad guy — killing small animals when he was a child, stealing from local merchants, organizing a street gang, then graduating to more serious crimes as he got older.

It was truly mystifying to him, and he found himself being bored with winning all the time and having beautiful women around, knowing it had all been arranged.

He told Mr. Pip that he didn't believe he belonged there. He said he didn't belong in heaven. "I wanna go to the other place."

And Mr. Pip, in the episode's punchline, replied, "This is the other place!" And he began to laugh in a way you never heard Mr. French laugh.

Moral of the story? Be careful what you wish for.