Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Twilight Zone (1959) -- Season 1 Episode 13 (The Four of Us Are Dying)

Arch Hammer is a man of many faces.  I’m not even being figurative.  He can literally change his appearance if he concentrates hard enough.  Does he join the CIA?  Does he work as a private detective?  Nope.  Nothing so noble.  Instead, he seems to wander into town intent on sampling people’s lives.  Specifically, he samples the lives of the recently deceased.

For instance, he finds a gangster that was murdered and uses that information to extort some money from the dead man’s former coworkers.  He also impassionate a boxer named Andy Marshak, only to find out that Andy had walked away from his family.  As you might expect, the ability does raise a few eyebrows.  People seem to know, to varying degrees, that the dead person is dead.  Arch is usually able to walk away before anyone starts asking too many questions.

You might wonder why Arch doesn’t impersonate someone of note, like a celebrity or a politician.  It would be easy enough to rob a bank if you could impersonate an employee.  I suppose that would draw too much attention.  Arch seems intent to get enough money when necessary if it means that no one will be after him later on.  The one thing he doesn’t seem to count on is Andy Marshak’s father coming after him.

This episode seemed rather unusual, mostly because the lead character was played by several different actors.  I suppose this is to be expected in The Twilight Zone.  It was bound to happen.  The one thing I found most odd was the use of neon signs at the beginning and the end of the episode.  I’m not sure what effect they were going for with that.

I was also at a loss to find a clear message.  Maybe it’s that even if you lay low, your choices catch up with you.  Arch was bound to eventually find someone that would get him in trouble.  This was someone who could have found a better use for his ability.  Instead, he used it to go through life unnoticed.  Maybe thinking bigger would have been the right thing to do.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I have heard it said that a man can die a thousand deaths. So when his time comes, why wouldn’t his death be magnified by every escape that has brought a new day? So in this case, since Arch Hammer has assailed the life’s of many people, why wouldn’t he pay a greater price? So the lies, tricks, and cheats he has used to his advantage are now magnified at the end by a sequence of four men each dying a slow death inside one body. So we have an epiphany. One man is now four. But only one is dying in a ever revolving door of time.