Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Twilight Zone (1959) -- Season 1 Episode 31 (The Chaser)

Roger has a thing for Leila.  Leila would rather forget that Roger exists.  What’s poor Roger to do?  After being rejected by Leila, a stranger offers Roger a business card so that Roger might leave a payphone for others to use.  Roger is assured that this Prof. A. Daemon has what Roger needs, whatever that might be.

When Roger visits Daemon, he has many books, among which are many potions.  Daemon suggests the glove cleaner, which Roger turns down.  Daemon also suggests getting a cocker spaniel, which Roger doesn’t want.  Roger wants something to make Leila love him.

Daemon has something for that, although he’s certain that Roger will be back.  It would seem that Roger’s story is familiar to Daemon.  Daemon seems tired of people like Roger.  After all, the love potion goes for $1, whereas the glove cleaner goes for much more.

The love potion works as promised.  Six months later, Roger and Leila are married, although Roger isn’t so happy.  It turns out that Leila’s love is total and unwavering.  Nothing that Roger could do would make Leila stop loving him.  He goes back to Professor Daemon, hoping for some way of toning it down a little.  Daemon informs Roger that it’s an all-or-nothing deal.  That’s what the glove cleaner is for.

What is the glove cleaner?  It’s something that will take care of someone without any evidence whatsoever.  It’s the perfect way to get someone off your hands.   Roger reluctantly takes it.  When he gets home, Leila has a little surprise for him.  Roger realizes that he can’t go through with it, after all.

The title of the episode has sort of a double meaning.  Not only is Roger chasing Leila in the beginning, but the glove cleaner is said to be a chaser for the love potion, as everyone eventually comes back for it.  Daemon has no shortage of people to buy the love potion.  He also seems to get as many customers for glove cleaner.

Love potions like this are nothing new.  My one concern with this episode is that Roger is so willing to undermine Leila’s ability to consent.  Not only did Roger use the potion, but it would seem a great many other men did, as well.   I know I’m looking at this episode nearly sixty years later.  (Yes, it’s that old.  The episode aired May 13, 1960.)  Times have changed.  I wonder how the episode went over when it first aired.  I don’t recall reading too much about this aspect of the plot.

The episode seems to focus more on the down side of not being able to moderate what you want.  It might have been nice if Roger could have dialed in Leila’s affection, but he’s all that she can think about.  One might even imagine that the love potion was made only to give people a reason to really want the glove cleaner.  This Daemon guy knows what he’s doing.  Maybe Roger should have gotten that cocker spaniel, after all.

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