The Twilight Zone

Season 2 Episode 3

Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room

2
Aired Unknown Oct 14, 1960 on CBS
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7.9
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  • "What's to do now?"

    9.2
    Most Twilight Zone episodes have a moral (though in a few it's hard to figure out what it is), and this one is no exception. Jackie Rhoades is a small-time hood who could move up to the big time by performing a deed ordered by his gang boss, who wants Jackie to kill a man he never met, but his boss wants dead. Jackie, sitting in his cheap, dingy room, somewhat reluctantly agrees. Though he's afraid to kill this man, he's more afraid of his boss's wrath if he doesn't. There's one man who's not afraid. Jackie himself, or rather, his "other self", the one he suddenly sees in the mirror, and who won't leave him alone until he lets the man in the mirror take over. This other Jackie is the man Jackie could have and would have been if he'd conducted his life differently, and reminds Jackie of the mistakes he made that put him, "them", in this position. Jackie could have been married and been a respectable citizen, if only he'd listened to his other self. After much nagging, Jackie acquiesces and lets his other self take over. He gives his boss, George, the boot, and leaves the dingy little room a new man, ready to make up for his misdeeds and become the man he could have been if only he'd listened to the other Jackie. He was a man at war with himself, and is now ready to make peace.

    Make no mistake, quitting a gang is not so easy as it appears here, but it's the moral that counts. A leopard can't change its spots, but people are not leopards, and behavioral patterns are not spots. Forget meaningless cliches. They can be effective in communicating ideas, but are not rational ideas of themselves. You can change, if you earnestly want to.
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