Tales from the Crypt (1996)

Season 7 Episode 9

Smoke Wrings

Aired Unknown Jun 21, 1996 on HBO

Episode Recap

After a long morning of tedious, tiring interviews, ad-exec Jacquelyn hires a novice in the advertising field to help with her advertising slogans.

Jacquelyn seems to like the young man, Barry Mann, and compliments him by saying he has "brass balls."

Jacquelyn introduces Barry to her boss, Ellen Edwards, who also seems to take a liking to Barry.

Jacquelyn's underling, Frank, meets up with them all in a conference room to show his new designs for a chocolate company known as "Chalmer's Chocolate" (a reference to the "tales" episode entitled "What's Cookin'?"). Displeased by Frank's psychedelic designs, Barry publicly trashes them in front of Jacquelyn and Ellen. He goes on to say "When people see this, they're not going to want a chocolate, they're going to want to vomit!," much to Frank's chagrin.

Alone in his office, Frank talks to Jacquelyn about Barry. Apparently, Frank doesn't enjoy this newcomer. Jacquelyn tells Frank to shake it off and let it be. The two make plans for a special rendezvous and Frank leaves.

As Frank walks off, we see that Barry has been listening in the whole time... Jacuqelyn spies Barry and tells him to ocme in.

Thinking he is about to be punished, Barry walks in and says "Look, I know what you're going to say--" and he is then interrupted by Jacquelyn's laughter. She smiles and says "Oh, it's great! You've got Frank running scared!" And Barry and jacquelyn have a short discussion about how boring Frank actually is.

Later, as everyone else is heading home, Barry runs down to the boiler room where he meets up with Jacquelyn's ex-partner, Alistair Touchstone. It seems that Alistair was let go by Jacquelyn a few years back, and he's been on the streets ever since. But, that hasn't stopped him from inventing new advertising gimmicks! It seems that Alistair has built a device that gives new meaning to "subliminal advertising." It is a microchip that can open someone's mind to any suggestion, making advertising a product as simple as breathing! Alistair tests the device out on Barry by altering his fear of mice--making Barry have horrible hallucinations of mice crawling all over him.

With the device in hand, Barry wastes not a moment to put the device to work. He demonstrates its power on Jacquelyn and Frannk, making them want to eat lots and lots of chocolate. Then, he makes them drink lots and lots of soda. Then he makes them try on lipstick. Then--he suggests they try out some condoms. The whole time, it is as if Frank and Jacquelyn are enjoying being mind-controlled.

Jacquelyn, in love with the device's power, decides to make a demonstration for Ellen by showing the effects of giving out "free chocolate samples" while using the device. The demonstration succeeds and Ellen authorizes the use of the device.

Later, while talking with Alistair, Barry inquires "When that machine is on, everyone is going crazy for chocolates... Why don't I?" Alistair replies "The device doesn't change thought, it just heightens what's already there!"

The next morning, after a violent outburst from Frank, Jacquelyn fires Frank and gives Barry the Chalmer's account. Alone, Jacquelyn and Barry begins passionately kissing in her office. Barry turns on the speaker phone, directly into Frank's office. Hearing the noises of love, Frank--in a blind rage--grabs a letter opener and storms towards Jacquelyn's office.

Jacquelyn tells Barry to "wait outside" while she freshens up.

Barry hides behind a column and uses the device on Frank, trying to make him murder Jacquelyn, but--it doesn't work! Frank's murderous thoughts weren't strong enough. Frank tosses the letter opener to the ground and walks off.

Angry at the failure, Barry grabs the letter opener and walks inside Jacquelyn's office. He leers at Jacquelyn and mentions that he knows Alistair. he says that he has a message from him, "...and that message is: drop dead." Barry leasp at Jacquelyn and Jacquelyn screams a blood-curdling scream.

In the boiler room, Barry confesses to killing Jacquelyn to Alistair. But, in doing so, he says that Alistair killed Jacquelyn "...which is what the police will think when they find you!" Barry tires to kill Alistair, but Frank arrives in the nick of time, pointing a gun at Barry and saying that "...the police will think [Barry] did it! Which is exactl what [he] did!" Barry fights off Frank and Alistair and runs back upstairs, meeting up with a cadre of policemen.

Barry, fearing being sent back to prison, runs down a long hallway and decides to leap out of the window.

Unfortunately for Barry, most humans can't survive a ten-story fall onto the hood of a car. Barry dies on impact with the car's hood. His last moments are spent in irony as he sees that Jacquelyn is indeed alive. Frank, Ellen, and Alistair (now clean-cut and suave in appearance) show up and reveal say that "The silent version [of the mind-altering device] is much mroe powerful!" As it runs out, Barry was just a lab rat in a pitch to sell the same mind-altering device he had used before. With this, Barry dies.

The episode ends with a laugh when Ellen claims that she's "DYING for something to eat!"