Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Twilight Zone (1959) -- Season 1 Episode 23 (A World of Difference)

The lyrics to Row, Row, Row Your Boat always confused me a little as a child.  If you are rowing a boat down a stream, why should you be so merry about it?  And if life is a dream, whose dream is it?   Arthur Curtis and Gerry Reagan might ask the same questions.

Arthur Curtis has an office job and a loving wife.  He has a secretary that is genuinely helpful.  Everything seems to be perfect for Arthur Curtis.  That is, until it’s not.  He goes to make a phone call and hears someone yell, “Cut.”  He turns around to see that he’s in the middle of a movie production and everyone’s calling him Gerry Reagan.

Gerry’s life isn’t so perfect.  He’s divorced with a ex-wife that wants nothing more than to get her money.  He’s portraying Arthur Curtis in a movie, although not for long.  His reputation as a drunk is about to put an end to that.  His instance that he’s actually Arthur isn’t helping, as it makes him look a little crazy.

So, which is it?  Is Arthur having some sort of vivid hallucination or has Gerry had a break with reality?  This is one of the best-written episodes of The Twilight Zone.  It could honestly go either way.  The beginning of the episode presents such a small amount of Arthur Curtis that it could be just one scene.  Then again, Gerry Reagan is nowhere to be found at the end of the episode.  Could it be that he wandered off or did he really go back to Arthur’s life?

This is one of those cases where ambiguity is called for.  Two people could watch this episode and debate the ending for a few days.  I’d say that it’s even a good episode to show a high-school philosophy class.  How do we know that this reality is real?  It’s been posited that maybe our reality is a simulation.  Could it be, like The Thirteenth Floor, that we live in a layered reality?  Granted, this is all speculation.  But it does make you think, maybe we are someone else’s dream.

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