The Twilight Zone

Season 2 Episode 27

The Mind and the Matter

Aired Unknown May 12, 1961 on CBS

Episode Recap

Archibald Beechcroft works at the Parkland Insurance Company at a desk from 9 to 5, and trudges to work each day on the subway where he's overwhelmed by the noise. When he arrives at the office this day, eager assistant Henry spills coffee on him. A dismayed Archibald goes to the restroom where his boss, Rogers, complains that Archibald isn't taking care of himself and looks like he's been drinking. Archibald snaps and says that he's exhausted from the constant pressure of people all around him, shoving and talking. He says that if he could he'd fix the universe so he'd be the only person left. Archibald storms off and goes to lunch in the company cafeteria. Henry calls him over to his table and apologizes for earlier, and offers Archibald a gift: a book titles "The Mind and the Matter." Henry says a friend recommended it to him and that his friend used the book to gain the power to influence people. Archibald doesn't believe it but when Henry spills more coffee on him, Archibald accepts the gift just to get rid of him.

Archibald reads the book on the way home, fascinated, and can't put it down at supper that night. He finishes it and figures that the author is right: if you concentrate hard enough, you can do anything. When his obnoxious landlady pounds on the door to demand the rent, Archibald concentrates… and she disappears. Encouraged, Archibald decides to change the world to his liking. The next day he goes down to the subway station, concentrates… and everyone disappears. He goes to his office where everyone vanished, and looks out the window to a world with no else.

Archibald does his work but quickly gets bored. He ends up talking to his own subconscious, which notes that now that he has what he wants, he's bored to death. Archibald admits that he could use a diversion and accidentally summons an earthquake. He quickly stops it and tries something a little less exciting like a lightning storm, but soon gives up on that.

On the way home, Archibald draws a mustache on a woman on a perfume poster but that only temporarily relieves his tedium. Back at his apartment, his subconscious appears in a mirror and reminds Archibald again of how lonely his new life is. Archibald admits he wouldn't mind having someone around, but he can't stand anyone. Then he hits upon a plan: the next day on the subway he concentrates and creates a new world of people: all just like him. However, he soon discovers how irritating it is to be around himself, as his duplicates, men and women alike, are all rude and complain about the noise the others make.

Despairing, Archibald admits to his subconscious that he hasn't fixed anything and he's worse off then he started. He concentrates and everything goes back to the way it was. Back at the office, the eager Henry spills more coffee on him but Archibald displays a little more tolerance and shrugs it off, then tells Henry that the book was just hokum.

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