As our regular visitors could probably tell, I was about ready to walk out on The Twilight Zone last week after yet another lecture. I even speculated that this week would be an anti-gun message because that’s what this season has done: it’s been very “on the nose”, with no room for allegory or deeper messages that ask the audience to think. And I liked that about the original series and have been longing for it here. But maybe it’s because I like Chris O’Dowd, or maybe it’s because the story was actually a really good one, but I recanted a bit after viewing this one. I enjoyed this episode immensely.
For one thing, I don’t know if this was an anti-gun story. After watching, I started thinking it was an anti-Jeff story. Having played Star Control: Origins, I had a new appreciation for the name Jeff, as it was a god-like being that appeared in the game, but The Twilight Zone seems to paint everyone named Jeff as a bit of a jerk. (They both start with the same two letters…!) But the episode goes deeper into something else: rather than being “anti-gun”, I felt it was anti-obsession, and that’s not a bad message. Here’s the situation: O’Dowd plays Jeff; one of many Jeff’s in the story. Jeff is getting divorced against his wishes, when he finds his dad has shot himself with a gun of a somewhat mythical nature. He becomes obsessed with the gun, the titular Blue Scorpion. To compound matters, he sees one of the bullets has the name JEFF printed on it. O’Dowd wants to be rid of it at first but has a hard time making it go away. When he is on the phone talking to a gun store with the intention of selling it, it goes off, scaring him half to death. (Me too, for the record!) Then things get complicated. His wife’s lawyer, Jeff, exacerbates the situation making the viewer pretty convinced he will use the gun with the named bullet on the lawyer. Or perhaps he will use it on his wife’s her new lover, also Jeff. (Clearly Mike is not that popular a name anymore!) Obviously, obsession can lead to terrible things. That’s really a fact! It’s no surprise that Jeff (O’Dowd), begins to have some dark thoughts. The climax takes place outside his wife’s house.
I’m not a jeff…. I mean a jerk. I won’t spoil it. It’s worth watching to see what happens. But unlike most Twilight Zone episodes, this one has a happy ending. Well, ish. The main plot can be summed up this way: let go of your obsessions and live life. This one did not feel over the top to me, nor did it feel preachy. There’s an “epilogue” that’s anti-gun, but under the circumstances, I think even a fan of guns would agree that the scene shown is rather scary and dangerous, but that’s an afterthought for the episode. I also thought it was interesting learning a bit about animism and anthropomorphism; while it’s a small part of the episode, it does tie in with the goings-on that Jeff experiences and it’s fascinating.
On a side note, attentive views would also realize by now that the number 1015 shows up throughout this series. It was the flight in Nightmare at 30,000 Feet. A license plate in Replay. In Six Degrees of Freedom it was the first few numbers of the code for the mission. In Not All Men, it features on a clock and in Point of Origin, it was the code to escape the facility. Now 1015-59 is the serial number on the gun. What it means? No idea yet, but I suspect something will come of it, perhaps next episode? (I think I got them all, but if I missed one, let me know! Recurring numbers are something of a fascination for some people, so perhaps there’s a meaning to this set?)
For now, I was pleased with an actual story that leaves some things open for debate. I will stick around for one more week to see what we get as a finale. One thing I will say, and this may be me making something of nothing, but the scorpion is an interesting creature. It has 8 legs and a stinger. I was wondering if there’s a bit of allegory there: we’ve seen 8 episodes – one for each leg. Now we saw the scorpion as a whole in this. Could the final episode of the season be the stinger (zinger)? I guess we’ll find out when we make one final voyage into… The Twilight Zone! ML
No, I think it was definitely anti-gun, and that was presumably a brave writing move. You can’t show children finding a discarded gun and then claim you’re not making a show with an anti-gun message. The clear indication for me was when he went to the firing range and started liking how powerful he was feeling. I found it a hard episode to watch because I can’t stand all that stuff – you already know my thoughts on all this Mike. The anthropomorphic stuff was interesting though.
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I agree that the obvious consequences in TV or film about carelessly handled guns can qualify as anti-gun messages. It’s the best wisdom to oppose how guns tend to make some people feel powerful. Power to get by without guns would qualify as a truly dignified power as recent tragedies in this world can certainly verify. That’s the kind of Twilight Zone cautionary tale that Rod Serling would approve of.
Thank you both for your reviews.
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