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Twilight Zone Collector's Edition (The Mirror, In His Image, and Nightmare as a Child)

1 rating: 5.0
A Twilight Zone Collector's Edition tape
1 review about Twilight Zone Collector's Edition (The Mirror,...

One outstanding one good and one mediocre episode

  • Jul 4, 2010
Rating:
+5
There is a fundamental political principle that says that the only path open for a tyrant is to become more tyrannical. Once a person reaches the point of being a tyrant, they have made so many mortal enemies that the only hope for continued survival is to make it certain that no one is able to reach a position where they can assume power. This often leads to the deaths of many innocents in order to guarantee that the guilty few are included. That is the basic premise of "The Mirror" but it is handled very poorly, although it was politically relevant at the time.
Peter Falk stars as Ramos Clemente, a rebel leader that has just seized power in a Central American country. He has the former dictator brought before him in order to gloat. However, the ex-ruler simply tells him that the mirror hanging on the wall of the presidential office will reveal the faces of people plotting his assassination. Fear and paranoia quickly take over Clemente, he orders the execution of most of his closest aids as well as many other citizens. One can also hear the relentless actions of the firing squads outside the windows of the presidential palace. Despite an appeal by a priest to relax the reign of terror, Clemente simply moves deeper into paranoia. At the end, Clemente is himself destroyed as the consequences of his deep-seated fear.
Anyone with knowledge of history will recognize that the Clemente character is based on the actions of Fidel Castro in Cuba. The episode originally aired in October of 1961, after Castro had been installed as an enemy of the United States. Given that the United States sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion took place in April 1961 there was reason for Castro/Clemente to be a bit paranoid. The problem is that Clemente is depicted as being completely irrational and emotionally unstable, not a personality capable of coldly leading a movement that could overthrow the leader of a country.
"In His Image" has a premise that runs deep in the story but until it is near the end, there are few hints as to what it is. Alan Talbot has known a woman for four days, yet they are already engaged. The happy man prepares to take his fiancé to the small town where he lives so that she can be introduced to his Aunt Mildred. This is in deep contrast to the opening scene, where Alan murders an old woman by throwing her in front of a subway.
However, when they arrive there, Alan discovers that his memory is faulty and many aspects of the town do not match his recollection. Furthermore, there are short periods when an unusual light appears on Alan and he develops a murderous rage. One such period occurs when Alan and his fiancé area traveling back and he runs from the car and begs his fiancé to leave. She does and when Alan walks back to the roads, he is hit a glancing blow by another car. This opens a wound on Alan's wrist and he can see mechanical parts in action where human muscles should be. It is at this point that we learn what has been happening, making the title a big hint. There is a happy ending, the wedding will take place and the murderous rages are a thing of the past.
Some people will find the lack of specific knowledge about Alan to be frustrating, as this is an hour-long episode. However, others will enjoy the lengthy period of uncertainty as it helps to build the tension. I liked it, even though my thought regarding what was happening to Alan was completely wrong.
"Nightmare as a Child" is a superb episode involving a strange guardian angel and a killer that is relentless in pursuit of his victims. Helen Foley comes home from her work as a schoolteacher and she finds a young girl sitting on the steps. The girl looks familiar and she is invited into Helen's apartment for a cup of hot chocolate. While the girl is sipping her drink, they begin talking and the girl reveals that she knows a great deal about Helen's past. When Helen was the girl's age, her mother was brutally murdered and Helen witnessed it. However, until now Helen has completely buried her memories so deep that she has no real recollection of the events.
When there is a knock on the door, the girl proclaims that it is something bad and runs to the other room. Helen learns that it is a man that knew her mother so she invites him in for hot chocolate. They talk for a while and the man learns that Helen's memory is starting to return as a consequence of her talking with the girl. This leads to a climactic struggle where Helen is finally able to remember what happened and yet completely able to dispose of the problem.
Many people have deeply repressed memories of terrible things that happened in their childhood. This episode explores that concept in a way that is sensitive, understanding, effective and surprisingly real. Many people personally act out bad events in a way that allows them to come to the surface where they can be confronted and overcome. The combination of that and the plight of a defenseless little girl make this a powerful episode.

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