The Twilight Zone

Season 5 Episode 25

The Masks

Aired Unknown Mar 20, 1964 on CBS
out of 10
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146 votes

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Episode Summary

A dying man demands his family wear masks that he's given them at a Mardi Gras party.

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  • Long wait.

    It's a long boring wait till the grand finale ending. The ending is one of the best for any episode. Very, very creepy to say the least. Most of the episode is about a group of family members sitting around talking. It's a long wait but it's worth it.
  • Reclusive tycoon Jason Foster summons his heirs, whom he despises, to his New Orleans home on Mardi Gras. He tells them that they must wear specially designed masks until midnight in order to receive their inheritances. The heirs reluctantly agree.moreless

    "The Masks" works on every level, the writing, the story, the acting is just terrific. All of the actors give great performances and are very believable in their roles. The dying family patriarch's speech to his heirs just before his death is one of the best moments of dialogue in any episode of The Twilight Zone. The episode is also a bit scary. Seeing the heirs wear their masks added just the right amount of chills to a very engaging and entertaining episode of one of the greatest television series ever made. "The Masks" is definitely not to be missed.moreless
  • The one about the, um, "masks"....

    One of the reasons that the Twilight Zone is arguably the greatest television show of all time is that it was fearless in presenting us with the undisclosed truth. Our innermost, unfortunate nature that we hide with behind a smile, utter hypocrisy which, alas, is the base of world. People wear a mask everyday. Imagine what we would all look like if the ugliness inside of us was exterior. In "The Masks" we are presented with four people who pose as the poster children for the ultimate human error.

    A dying man's daughter, along with her husband and children, visit him on the eve of the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Though not with scrupulous intentions. During their stay, they are given four hideous masks and are told that they must wear them until the turn of the midnight hour. Though reluctant, they eventually comply. While the dying man himself obliges to wear the mask of death, which is the face of a skeleton. As the hours progress, his four malicious family members grow weary of their masks. Soon they are able to remove the dreadful masks from their faces, when they learn that their host has finally died. As they mirthfully prepare for a considerable inheritance and remove the masks, the true nature of their notion is prevalent among their detestable new appearances.

  • the masks

    this episode of the twilight zone was about a dieing old man and his family is their with him, the old man hates his family because they are selfish and greedy and all they care about is money and there just waiting for him to die so he tells them to put on masks ugly masks to represent how ugly they are on the inside they think hes just wasteing their time. it was a great episode the moral was someone may look nice on the outside but on the inside they could be an ugly person. . . .moreless
  • Jason Foster, wealthy resident of New Orleans is not much longer for this world. His family is only interested in collecting inheritence when Jason passes. He knows. He has a surprise planned for all of them. Their own Mardi Gras, with "special" masks.moreless

    by Dane Youssef

    "What Do You See When You Look At Me?" "The Twilight Zone" was a turning point in television because of its entirely human characters, its situations, its usage of the supernatural and the astronomical and it's perplexing surprise endings which were a study in divine poetic karma. Back when the pop-culture geek fad of choice was pulp fiction magazines which contained short stories dealing with fantasy, science-fiction, horror and macabre... it was "Twilight" that started the great practice of putting them on the small screen. And with an urgent moral commentary about humanity overall no less.

    But what's really made so much of this series stand the test of time and the measuring stick for what the quality of "quality programming" is measured by the fact that the show was a lot like a fairy tale. Or the Bible, or any religious tome.

    This time, the "Zone" shines it's twilight on an elderly wealthy man on his last gasp. His doctor tells him how critical his situation at this point. He may not have years or even months... he may not even have more than days or minutes.

    This particular rich elder still has a few more tasks and loose ends to tie up before he shuffles off this mortal coil. One final task. The family is coming into town... for Mardi Gras. But Mr. Foster is not fortunate enough to be embraced by the bosom of a warm embrace full clan when he makes his way down the stairs. His kin is not there to spend the holiday of Mardi Gras with someone they care for deeply in his last few moments. They are only there to assure they will inherit everything of value once Jason passes. He is not entirely pleased to see them. He knows why they are all there.

    The family are the type who have not only character faults, they wear them quite prominently. The family almost seem to be living embodiments of the seven deadly sins. But they all withhold two precise to heart--greed and selfishness, if not outright absolute evil.

    After a magnificent meal, he tells everyone he has a surprise for the whole family. He presents a collection of masks hand-made by an old Cajun. He informs the family that a custom of Mardi Gras is to wear masks that are the exact opposite of a one's true self. Thereupon, he says sarcastically that these masks are just that. The family refuses. He threatens to disinherit them all but completely if they do not humor this little eccentric, dying, senile old man... Funny thing, the masks almost seem inspired by the seven deadly sins. When the family's little no-tech masquerade ball itself ends, and the masks themselves are to be removed...

    This is one of Serling's most famous episodes. And with good reason. There isn't a lot of action and topical subjects such as the Cold War and conformity to be had here. It deals with a timeless subjects such as family and love.

    Actors are all fine here, they all seems big as life. Flesh-and-Blood. But much of this show belongs to one Robert Keith who plays the terminal Jason Foster.

    But of course, the real star of this one is, as always the teleplay of one Rodman Edward Serling. The man not only penned the bulk of what was seen on "The Twilight Zone," he raised the bar for what was seen on the tube and what "well written" really meant. He took home six Emmys, more than anyone had in history back then. After him, scripture for television became a respectable pursuit.

    NOTE: This review is dedicated to Edward Rodman Serling, a man who not only fought to protect our country and our way of life in WWII and took a fair amount of injury for it. But also fought the censors on TV twice as hard to make sure his vision was seen and heard. When TV was about shows like "Leave it to Beaver" and "Donna Reed," here was a man who wanted to use the box to illuminate serious problems like the cold war, racism, anti-society, paranoia and other destructive elements that come from within us. He was buried with military honors. I hope television honors as well. All he wanted was to remembered as a writer. Well.... I remember....

    --Holy Worship for Rod Almighty, Dane Youssefmoreless
Robert Keith

Robert Keith

Jason Foster

Guest Star

Alan Sues

Alan Sues

Wilfred Jr.

Guest Star

Brooke Hayward

Brooke Hayward

Paula Harper

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Jason:[dying] ... It's the moment you've all been waiting for, I believe. Now you can dig deep in the treasury.
      Emily: Are you feeling weaker, Father?
      Jason: At last... a note of hope in your voice, Emily?
      Emily: Why must you always say such cruel and miserable things to me?
      Wilfred: I quite agree, Father!
      Jason: Why indeed, my loved ones! Because you're cruel and miserable people! Because none of you RESPOND to love! Emily responds only to what her petty hungers dictate, a prime example of this being her marriage to Wilfred... a marriage which broke her dear late mother's heart, in every sense! Wilfred responds only to things that have weight and mass and gaugeable value! He MEASURES novels, he doesn't experience them! He JUDGES artwork, he doesn't seek out its beauty or its meaning! And Paula lives in a mirror; the world is nothing more to her than a reflection of herself. And her brother... Humanity to him is a small animal, caught in a trap, waiting to be tormented! His pleasure is the giving of pain, and from this he receives the same sense of fulfillment most people get from a kiss or an embrace! You're CARICATURES, ALL of you! Even without your masks, you're CARICATURES!

    • Closing Narration
      Narrator: "Mardi Gras incident, the dramatis personae being four people who came to celebrate and in a sense let themselves go. This they did with a vengeance. They now wear the faces of all that was inside them--and they'll wear them for the rest of their lives, said lives now to be spent in shadow. Tonight's tale of men, the macabre and masks--on the Twilight Zone."

    • Opening Narration
      Narrator: "Mr. Jason Foster, a tired ancient who on this particular Mardi Gras evening will leave the earth. But before departing he has some things to do, some services to perform, some debts to pay--and some justice to mete out. This is New Orleans, Mardi Gras time. It is also the Twilight Zone."

  • NOTES (3)

    • The main lobby of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney World has exact replicas from the four-foot statue holding the glass from the mansion in this episode.

    • Directed by Ida Lupino, the only woman to direct a Twilight Zone episode. She also made an appearance in "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine".

    • This episode was included on Image-Entertainment's "More Treasures of The Twilight Zone" DVD.